WEST TOWN — Gold Coasters aren’t the only Chicagoans willing to drop some serious coin on fancy footwear. On a stretch of Chicago Avenue filled with discount stores and taquerias sits Alcala’s Western Wear – where high-end cowboy boots can cost more than a pair of Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks.
After spending nearly $900 on a pair of black Lucchesse boots made of elephant leather, Alcala’s customer George Hart had no regrets about his pricey purchase.
“They are comfortable, and they are stylish,” Hart said. “They hold your back straight. I like to wear jeans a lot, so [the boots] make me look good in them.”
Compared to other boots for sale at Alcala’s — Hart got a bargain. The Lucchesse full hornback alligator boot will set buyers back $4,599.99. A pair of Old Gringo boots with nearly 2,000 tiny Swarovski crystals in the shape of an eagle have a $1,499 price tag.
Richard Alcala, who owns the family-run business at 1733 W. Chicago Ave., said there are three things that determine the cost of a good pair of cowboy boots: the materials, where they are made and labor.
“These are handmade boots. They are not made in an assembly line by machines. Each element, like the sole, is made by a single worker,” Alcala said.
The fit and exotic skins used for high-end boots are also important factors, according to Fred Gibbon, vice president of product development for Lucchesse.
“There are millions of cows, so leather is widely available,” Alcala said. “But alligator, ostrich or rattlesnake skin? Not as much. ... These boots are the equivalent of a Rolls-Royce.”
And the people who buy these handcrafted boot beauts?
Says Gibbon: “Those with impeccable taste.”
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