The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Students wear boots, demonstrate Texas pride

Ten-gallon hats, belt buckles and saddles are some of the largest icons any Texan can be recognized by. 

However, there is one accessory — that has stomped its way across the Southern lands to the west, east and all over the country — cowboy boots.

The leather apparel may not be the latest fad or an up-and-coming accessory, but it has been around long before your first pair of Steve Madden knee-highs or Columbia work boots. 

The first pair of cowboy boots was put on sometime in the late 1800s.

After the Civil War, when cowboys were driving their cattle across the country through rivers, creeks and brush, the time came for a new pair of boots to be created. 

According to many Western stories, in 1870 a cowboy took his pair of boots to a shoe maker and asked for a pointy toe for easier entry into the stirrup, a knee-high design to protect his shins from the thorny bushes and snakes and a thicker heel so the boots would remain locked into the stirrup even on the bumpiest of rides.

They were then made loose at the top, so the cowboy can easily slide out if he was hung up in the stirrup. Leather was added for cushion between the cowboy’s ankle and the wooden stirrups.

That day, the cowboy walked out with the first-born cowboy boots to last centuries. 

Today, these boots have taken the country by storm.

Native Highland Park resident and University of Oklahoma student Austin Reynolds brings out two pairs of his favorite boots to showcase for the interview.

“For my 20th birthday, I got these. They were worth around $2,000,” he said.

A jaw-dropping $2,000 may seem unreasonable to the untrained eye, but for those who are familiar with the process and the ultimate result, it is well worth the price.

“These are a pair of M.L. Leddy’s, a popular custom handmade boot store in Fort Worth,” Reynolds said. “The entire boot was not only stitched and made by hand, but was also custom. This boot was designed just for my feet. It took two hours just to size my foot.”

The two hours were nothing compared to the actual wait to finish the boots.

“It takes anywhere from six to 18 months to have them finished. Mine took 10 months, so you have to be patient,” he said.

Reynolds says the boots are extremely comfortable, especially since they were created just for his feet. He also adds they have exceptional quality and they will “last a


The hand-stitched design that Reynolds had requested delicately tumbles down the leather and discloses a bit of his personality.

Boots can say something about someone.

“My dad even got his initials done on the outside, which looks pretty cool,”  SMU football player Blake McJunkin said about his boots that embody Mustang pride.

“My uppers were quite simple. I got a solid royal blue upper [the part of the boot you don’t see that’s hidden under the pant leg] with a red mustang in the outside and my initials in red down the inside. So while [my father and I] didn’t spend an enormous amount on fancy material or stitching, my boots are still very custom to me and are one of the greatest gifts I ever received,” McJunkin said.

While Austin Reynolds recalls his first pair of boots at age 4, Blake McJunkin’s first pair could have been sooner.

“I don’t remember how old I was when I got my first pair, because I was too young to remember. My parents had me wearing boots from an early age,” McJunkin said.

For SMU Phi Delta Theta fraternity members, it is mandatory to wear cowboy boots throughout pledgeship.

“Coming from California I didn’t know anything about cowboy boots — I’ve never worn them in my life — but I did learn a lot about them afterwards,” sophomore Phi Delt Brendan Ahern said. “I think the reason for making us wear them is that the cowboy boots are tradition, and it taught us responsibility.”

McJunkin expressed a possible cowboy boot connotation for those outside of Texas.

“I think, based on my experience meeting people from different parts of the country at SMU, that some people from other states kind of see Texas as an in-your-face, prideful group of people, and that we can show that in what we wear…like cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans,” he said.

Perhaps the in-your-face style is what people go for or why even celebrities look to these showstoppers to make the statement they aim to transpire.

Billy Bob Thornton, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey are customers to a single boot store: Rocketbuster Boots in El Paso, Texas.

Stallion Boot and Belt Company, also located in El Paso, has served Madonna, Robert Plant, Bob Dylan, Ashley Judd and Tom Cruise.

So, whatever the statement you aim to make — simple, dramatic or bold — just remember: “If the boot fits, wear it,” because cowboy boots will do the job in rocky plains, mud-covered ranches and even red carpet evenings.

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