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Ariat is Bringing Back Traditional Cowboy Bootmaking with their New Bench Made Collection

William Barton

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2024
3 min read

Back in 1993, Ariat took off as a disruptor of the cowboy boot market. 

30 years later, they’re bringing traditional cowboy bootmaking back. 

Ariat’s new Bench Made collection has all the hallmarks of what makes cowboy boots so special: unique materials like lemonwood pegs, brass clinch nails, butyl leather soles, and of course: exquisite leather choices. 

Traditional Cowboy Boots Are Back

The Ariat Bench Made collection is all handmade in Leon, Mexico: the bootmaking capital of the world. 

If you’re familiar with Ariat, you know their boots have always been performance and comfort driven. Their famous WorkHog is a great example: with modern materials and technologies throughout, it’s a waterproof beast that’s easy to stand in all day long. 

Ariat Benchmade James 2

In fact, over the past 30 years, Ariat has continued to push the limits on just how modern cowboy boots can get. They’ve been on the forefront for three decades. 

So why the big push back in time? 

Old World Styling

Ariat Benchmade Collection 4

Even for those of us who love the comforts of the modern world, anyone who wears a western-style boot has a bit of nostalgia for the classics. 

And that’s just what Ariat’s Bench Made collection delivers. 

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I reviewed the Ariat James in Black Bison leather, and what really stood out to me was the material quality and overall construction. 

Each Bench Made boot features a Goodyear welt construction, which basically means there’s a strip of leather stitched to the upper and through the outsole. This leads to a stronger build quality you can feel through the entire sole. 

Ariat Benchmade James

Ariat’s new Bench Made collection is outstanding. It has some of the comfort features Ariat is known for, but is a bit more “high end” than what Ariat usually produces. I’m a big fan of the black bison leather for how supple but thick it is.

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Ariat Benchmade James 5

Not only that, but like all truly traditional cowboy boots, Ariat is using lemonwood pegs and brass clinch nails to fasten the outsole and insole. 

You’ll see a lot of modern brands opting for stainless nails, which is fine, but eventually the stainless will begin to rust a bit and rot out the insole and outsole. That’s not the case with brass. 

Another standout bit of the Bench Made collection—at least for my James boots—is the 8-row stitching design on the shaft of the boot. That’s something that’s easily overlooked, but a fine boot is all about the details. 

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You’re also getting a leather stacked heel, calfskin lining, and a choice between a variety of beautiful leathers. Speaking of leather…

Choose Your Leather

Ariat Benchmade James 3

Ariat released the Bench Made in a square toe, round toe, and roper style, available in three different types of leather: bison, ostrich, and caiman. 

The bison is decently corrected as well, so you’re not getting such an extreme texture—they’re perfect for both weekend nights out or if you need to get some work done. 

Of course, there’s caiman and ostrich leathers as well, which have their own unique texture and styling to them. 

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No two boots from the Bench Made are identical, and that’s because each tanned hide is selected for the best possible quality. 

Then, taking the expertly selected hides, artisans handcraft each boot for a one-of-a-kind look. 

This is what traditional bootmaking is all about. 

Tradition First

To get my full thoughts on Ariat’s Bench Made collection, you can read my review of the Ariat James here. 

And if you want to see all the styles and leather options available in the Ariat Bench Made collection, go here.

Ariat Bench Made Clanton

An elevated version of the traditional roper boot, the Bench Made Clanton is fashioned from caiman crocodile leather by expert bootmakers in León. The exotic but understated leather is eye-catching without being ostentatious and pairs perfectly with a crisp pair of dark blue or black jeans.

$549 at Arial


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  1. Wow, Ariat is really taking a nostalgic leap with their Bench Made collection