Recently, Jose Luis Gonzalez, a Lucchese artisan, was asked to represent Lucchese at the Houston Rodeo parade. During his trip, he found two cowboy boots he made ten years ago while visiting the new Lucchese retail store in the Highland Village shopping area in Houston, Texas. We were lucky to capture the moment on film while Jose Luis was admiring his work, and posted it on our social media pages. Lucchese fans enjoyed seeing the photo of the man who has handmade the boots they wear and love. We thought this was a good opportunity to share his Lucchese story with you.
Jose Luis ventured into handmade boot-making industry when he was 21 years old—back when the Lucchese boots factory was still Dan Post. He had recently lost his job at Farah, a clothing and textile factory in El Paso, when Jose Luis’s older brother told him Dan Post was looking to hire new employees. Jose Luis decided to pursue the opportunity to work with his brother at Dan Post. At the beginning of his bootmaking career, Jose Luis’s brother taught him how to make boots— mastering the craft over the past three decades. When Dan Post left El Paso in 1986, Jose Luis’s supervisor offered him a job with Lucchese, explaining to him Lucchese was looking for experienced bootmakers.
Once he started with Lucchese, Jose Luis had the opportunity to learn more about bootmaking with the Gilbert and Jesse Garcia, two master bootmakers based out of San Antonio. The Garcia brothers taught Jose Luis old world techniques that Lucchese still uses to this day for the quality, craftsmanship and comfort Lucchese is renowned for. And after thirty seven years of working for as a boot artisan, Jose Luis “knows almost every bootmaking stage and technique Lucchese uses because [he] learned from experience and would often practice at home.” So far though, he’s enjoyed lasting the most—the process of securing the upper soles with tacks and lemonwood pegs. But, “what he really wants to do is one day teach someone the old bootmaking techniques, so they won’t be lost.”
Bootmaking is not only a career to Jose Luis, but has become a part of his identity. When we asked Jose Luis about the picture of him with the boots, he said, “I felt nostalgic. I made them a long time ago when I was younger. It reminded of happy moments in my life. I never imagined finding them [at the Houston store]after so many years. Everyone has congratulated me about that photo. It made me proud and excited about the work I do. ”
This interview has been translated from Spanish to English.