The Tecovas Johnny Is the Western Boot You—Yes, You—Should Bring Into Your Stable of Shoes

SHOP NOW $255, tecovas.com


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I was born in Texas, but I’m a Northern boy at heart. I don’t even recall my first few months of life down in the Lone Star State. My memory kicks in where I grew up: Pennsylvania, nestled in the Brandywine Valley between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. And now? I live in Brooklyn. What I’m saying here is that I have no grand cultural claim to cowboy boots. And yet, I’m about to tell you why I’ve started wearing them, and why you should, too.

The pair in question is by Tecovas, a brand also born in Texas. The make is called the Johnny. And it convinced me that embracing a little yeehaw this spring isn’t just possible—it’s a damn good idea.

tecovas johnny boots

A closer look at the signature toe stitching.

Philip Friedman

tecovas johnny boots

The suede isn’t just soft—it’s waterproof, too.

Philip Friedman

It’s a well-made, chilled-out take on the cowboy boot

Cowboy boots present a conundrum for the uninitiated. On the one hand, you want something that feels authentic to the form. Something isn’t “inspired by” but simply “is.” On the other hand, the truly ornate ones—the ones with exotic leathers like ostrich or crocodile skin, the ones with colors that’d make even the most world-weary Nashville session player’s eyes pop—are entirely too much for most of us mere mortals. The Johnny, though, is rendered in soft, waterproof suede, with ornamental toe stitching to give it just a touch of Western flare but no embellishment on the shaft of the (monochromatic) upper. The angled heel and the pointed shape ensure the impression is still “cowboy boot,” through and through, but the rest of the detailing keeps the vibe more “denim” than “rhinestones.”

The other thing about those flashy boots? They can cost an arm and a leg. The Johnny, like all of Tecovas’s offerings, does not. Sure, it’s handcrafted in León, Mexico, a city with a 400-year history of shoemaking and a highly regarded tradition of craftsmanship that endures to this day. But thanks to Tecovas’s direct-to-consumer model, you’re paying about half of what you’d pay for similarly well-made boots from a traditional brand.

SHOP NOW $255, tecovas.com

tecovas johnny boots

The angled heel.

Philip Friedman

tecovas johnny boots

The unadorned shaft of the boot.

Philip Friedman

It’s surprisingly comfortable

I have some supremely fucked-up feet. Wide in general, with an old injury to the right that, over the course of many subsequent re-injuries, has made it even wider. I figured cowboy boots, with their pointed toe box and pull-on design, would not be kind to me. I was wrong, in large part because Tecovas helped me really tune in the sizing (of the utmost importance in all footwear, but even more so with a pull-on leather boot that doesn’t have any built-in cheats like laces or elastic to help you make due with a not-quite-right fit).

The brand offers standard and wide widths, so after trying on an 11 medium and feeling a familiar crunch around my midfoot, I opted for an 11 wide. It was too big. My heel slipped. I landed on a 10.5 wide for proper testing. I got some resistance pulling it on until my heels kind of popped into place. It was snug, but not tight, so as I wore my new boots around Brooklyn and Manhattan, they began stretching to fit my feet while keeping me securely locked in place. Owing to the aforementioned fucked-upedness of my feet, I need a thin insole below my smaller left foot to keep the feeling consistent with the right. Tecovas suggested as much right on the website. And once everything was tuned in and I’d gotten used to the height of that angled heel, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I could wear them all day without any undue discomfort.

SHOP NOW $255, tecovas.com

tecovas johnny boots

Tecovas branding on the leather sole.

Philip Friedman

tecovas johnny boots

A rubber heel means a little extra comfort and traction right out of the box.

Philip Friedman

It’s the right kind of attention-getter

You know earlier, when I called the Johnny a chilled-out take on the cowboy boot? It is. But it’s still a cowboy boot. When you’re hoofing it around New York City, that tends to stand out a little bit. And though I’ll admit the Esquire offices are perhaps more style-attuned than most, it’s worth noting that when I first wore my boots to work, they were the first thing a lot of my coworkers noticed. I like experimenting with fashion, but dread looking the victim just as much as anyone, so that had me a little nervous. But the reaction was universally positive. Turns out a cowboy boot can be both an eye-catcher and restrained enough that it doesn’t transform your outfit into a getup or, worse, a costume.

I wore mine that first day with black Wrangler Wrancher “dress jeans” with a bit of a flare to accommodate the wider shaft of the boot, plus a simple black T-shirt and a denim jacket. The vibe was Western, of course, but only a little. If you’re pondering how to try out a boot like this yourself—meaning you, like me, are not a dyed-in-the-wool Western wear enthusiast and are looking to expand your horizons—I’d recommend something similar. Maybe swap in some straight leg jeans or a chore coat, if you like. Or, hell, go all the way out there and see if you can score a Nudie suit on eBay and wear it with that. Really, it’s up to you. After all, what do I know? I’m a Northern boy.

SHOP NOW $255, tecovas.com

Photography by Philip Friedman. Prop styling John Olson for Halley Resources.

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