Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The Lalaboots And Leaves
Her Campus Media
Fashion

Cowboy Boots: Timeless or Trendy?

It will come as no shock to anyone consuming social media on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok, to learn that cowboy boots have recently come back into style in a big, big way. Although cowboy boots have flirted with being on-trend for several years now – first reappearing on runways in 2017 in A/W collections like Céline, Maison Margiela, and Calvin Klein – they have finally bitten the bullet and been absorbed into the mass public’s fashion consciousness. 

To understand this phenomenon and what it means for fashion, it is critical to go back to the start of the cowboy boot journey. Cowboy boots were first introduced by the iconic cowboys of North and Central America in the 18th century, who preferred a heel in a horse’s stirrups and the height of the boots to protect their legs from chafing. Originally an adaptation of their English cousins, the British Wellington Boot, and their Anglo-German relatives, the Hessian, cowboy boots still spark controversy over whether they first showed up in Kansas, Denver, or Texas. Exact origins aside, the boots’ durability, high-quality, and superior craftsmanship earned them a steady spot in history. 

However, cowboy boots did not gain a seat at the fashion table until two centuries later, when Marilyn Monroe was captured wearing a pair in a flirty Valentine’s Day-themed photoshoot in 1951. The pin-up quickly gained notoriety, as it captured the fun and edge that cowboy boots offered in contrast to other popular choices for footwear. It is this combination of durability, quality, and playfulness that has afforded cowboy boots the sense of timelessness yet trendiness with which they are now synonymous.

In my opinion, the fashion world has embraced cowboy boots so wholeheartedly because of the sheer fun they harbour. Unlike other recent footwear trends like knee-highs, chunky boots, and Doc Martens, the move to cowboy boots signals a real nod to the idea of keeping fashion exciting, fresh, and on-its-toes (pun intended).

In particular, cowboy boots are fascinating as a trend item because they aren’t particularly easy to style due to their close association with cowboys – whether in Western films or at the rodeo. As such, they present a real departure from more recent trends whose adaptability is far easier to fit into public consumption. I, for one, have loved seeing cowboy boots come into style, not only because of the sheer diversity of their colouring, shape, and authenticity, but because of the way that they are being styled to reflect the wearer’s personal taste, and the effort they have put into either departing from typical Western associations, or leaning into them. Whether paired down with a white tee and a good pair of jeans, or dressed up in country-bumpkin couture with a babydoll or mini dress, cowboy boots are versatile, fun, and here to stay. 

In addition, the built-to-last element of cowboy boots is important to note because it highlights a potential move of the fashion industry away from fast-fashion, microtrends, and cheap-quality products that are made to be worn once. Dr. Jana Scholze explained the changing nature of luxury and demand in an article with House & Garden in October 2019, stating that “for many buyers, smaller and local labels seem to better fulfil the promise of the special, the rare and the unique.” The statement reflects the sentiment of thousands of fashionistas and shoppers following the pandemic years. Now more than ever, consumers are trending towards purchasing quality over quantity, and cowboy boots are the best attestation to this concept that there is, with most consumers buying into the cowboy boot trend in one of two sustainable ways. On the one hand, consumers are shopping directly at leather boot manufacturers like Lucchese, Old Gringo, Justin’s, Ariat, Tony Lama, etc. What these brands all have in common is that they are family-owned, with up to 100 years of experience in cowboy boot manufacturing. Alternatively, shoppers are buying second-hand from local thrift or charity shops, or resale sites such as Depop, Ebay, Vestiaire Collective, and so on. The rich history that makes cowboy boots so timeless as a fashion item has forced consumers to go back to basics when thinking about how to acquire a pair, hinting at a future move away from fast fashion as the first port-of-call, and encouraging the movement toward resale sites or smaller, specialised, family-owned businesses. In fact, resale fashion is predicted to be bigger than fast fashion in the next ten years due to the rapid rate at which it is currently expanding.

Ultimately, cowboy boots are fun, durable, and high-quality. These elements give the boots a sense of timelessness yet trendiness that is not easily achieved, but that makes them all the more fun to see personalised!

Amelia Ward

St Andrews '22

Hi! My name is Amelia and I am the Senior Editor for the St. Andrews Chapter of Her Campus Media. I am a half Australian and half English third year student studying French and International Relations, with a passion for personal style, sustainability, and writing.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️