Footwear for the well-dressed scientist: day 3

October 20, 2010 • 10:42 am

Alligator is one of the most expensive hides for use in boots, my darling little pullets, and is usually restricted to the vamps, or the “foot part” of a cowboy boot. But if you’re doing really smoking science, what you want are full gator boots, with both vamps and shafts made from the hide.  These are hideously expensive: a new pair from a good maker can run several thousand dollars—well beyond the means of even the hottest scientist.  Nevertheless, papa has this gorgeous footwear: full belly-gator boots, custom-made by Rios of Mercedes for Billy Martin’s in New York:

How could he afford these? Easy—they were made for a guy named “Leo” who had his name inlaid on the shafts in gold leather:

The savvy footwear buyer knows that personalized boots sell on eBay for only a fraction of what they’d normally cost, even if the name doesn’t show when you’re wearing them.  Leo, whoever he is, never wore these; his loss is my gain.

27 thoughts on “Footwear for the well-dressed scientist: day 3

  1. Alligator is one of the most expensive hides for use in boots

    Why? I didn’t realise there was a shortage of gators and/or crocs.

    Or is a question of tanning?

    1. Alligator and croc hides are not cheap. There’s a limited season in the US south, but I imagine most of the hides are from farm-raised animals.

      I think it takes about 30 years for a croc to reach maturity. (From my last visit to a croc farm in South Africa.)

      1. OK, I did a little web browsing — they apparently slaughter them before they are full grown, and at least some varieties of croc mature in about 10 or 12 years.

  2. Savvy viewers know that the alligator’s name was “Leo”. You’ve got your dogs parked in the Leo Signature Series.

  3. Considering that Leo was a kitteh, I’m guessing the name on the boots isn’t at all inappropriate.

    And, if the boots make you feel so tall that it’s like you’re in Low Earth Orbit, then they’re all the more suitable….



      1. I just plain don’t get this fetish. It’s weird combination of ostentatious and ugly. I’m sure they’re durable, but even with the secondhand cost, who would wreck them up?

        I like either a lightweight pair of fabric sneakers for fast walking or blizzard hiking boots that keep snow & slush out. Maybe Doc Martens or other affordable leather for in-between.

        At least the stories behind the cowboy boots can be interesting I guess. Do what make ya happy I guess.

  4. I saw your reply about Black’s BBQ. I was over near there and they had billboard that said they would ship anywhere in US.

    Not sure if Smitty’s or Central Market will.

  5. I couldn’t read the 3rd letter properly, so I will assume it says “LEG”, just in case you forget which body part that is (it would be too confusing if it said “CALF”, since it’s really alligator….).

    1. In Norway you can get things made of fish skin – very attractive mottled gray – “gråsteinbit” or Anarhichas minor. Not sure if it is suitable for boots though!

  6. I remember back in 1985 – boots started at about $800 and went up rapidly from there. $2k was typical and some people pay up to $45k (hey dude, dig my boots – they cost more than your car!) and some rare customers shell out much more than that.

    The cheapest (if you could find a pair that fit) would be the ones which were not picked up by the person who commissioned them. The downpayment pretty much covers material and a bit of the work and it seems to be a tradition of sorts to dispose of unwanted or unclaimed boots by selling them relatively cheap (as little as $200 back in ’85).

  7. I’m sure you have a perfectly good Darwinian explanation for all this extravagant footwear, right Dr. Peacock? I mean Coyne.

  8. I have a cousin who used to own a leather shop in Alabama where he made alligator skin boots (some for semi-famous country singers) and bizarre nicknacks (e.g. little boxes with pop-up rattlesnake heads). Now he works for a company that makes prosthetic limbs and I have suggested to him that it would be cool to combine his previous and current vocations, and for instance make a rattlesnake skin covered prosthetic leg. I bet there’s a market for it.

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