And now after Wednesday’s dose of reality, it’s back to my regularly scheduled program as I give you RRL’s $850 Roper Boot. Now to be fair, $850 is an entirely reasonable price for a suede roper, especially when you consider what it actually takes to create such a boot. These stompers come straight from the heartland, as they’re produced in a Nebraska factory that’s been churning out hand-made boots for over one hundred fifty years. That legacy of craftsmanship can be seen in each detail, from the fully lined uppers to the rubber coated goodyear sole, to the steel shank, right down to the leather stacked heel.
Of course, most of RRL’s customers won’t really be wearing these to rope cattle, so the boot’s aesthetic features likely outweigh all of its guts in the end. Built upon vintage lasts from the 1940’s, it’s about as classic a boot as you can get, devoid of any superfluous ornamentation or stitching, this roper could probably sneak by without being called a cowboy boot at all. Maybe it’s because I’m having my typical mid-summer southwest dreams, but come Fall I could see myself wearing these with a pair of 501’s (never boot tucked of course) and a navy blazer. I’d dub it “the confused East Coaster in Santa Fe.”
I always think of the names that brands bestow on their collections the same way that I think about drink menus. The names that bars use for their drinks are always either overt, or contrived, or painfully personal, or sickeningly clever, but ultimately, these names add up to just about nothing once you take that first sip. I don’t know what title RRL used for this collection, although I imagine names like “Desert Storm Dropout” or “Leather-skinned Legionnaire,” or maybe even “Aviator’s Heirlooms.” To be honest, it doesn’t matter what title RRL’s design team dreamt up for this collection, because it’ll be forgotten the second you look closer at the collection. Every detail looks like it could (and should) warrant an epithet all it’s own, so go ahead and make your own assumptions. In the meantime, let’s leave those overly clever monikers to the “mixologists.”
I think it’s about time that I make a confession: I as an “adult” have never actually owned a suit. And yes I do realize that preaching about the importance of dressing well, while not even owning a suit myself is more than a bit hypocritical. So, after years of not practicing what I preached, I finally decided to take the plunge this weekend and head up to Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander Mansion to pick up a suit. While I plan to follow up the suit story with a full post in a couple weeks once I get it back from the tailors, I’d like to shift gears now, because aside from riding that “I just bought a suit” high, walking through the maze of sub-labels throughout the Mansion, I was continuously impressed by the shawl collar cardigans that I saw.
What is it about the southwest U.S. that makes it so appealing to a Jewish kid from the East Coast? Now, I don’t have much in common with the mighty Ralph Lauren, but I can say that he and I do share this particular question. For the past decade or so, since my parents decided to purchase a vacation house not near the beach, nor the mountains, but in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this question has been on mind. At first I dreaded coming out here, yet as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to love the Southwest for the much needed change of pace that it provides. For Ralph, the southwest was an untapped well of inspiration, a region with colors, designs, and textiles that were unlike anything he could find in his homebase of New York. And so in 1978, with the west on his mind, Ralph Lauren launched a new side of his brand, a move that elevated him from being merely a designer for the natty East Coast mentality, to a designer for the American history books.