Parker Boot Company: Roper boots review
These are my finished western boots from Parker Boot Company in Houston, Texas. I’ve had them for a while now, but various other things (mostly Japan) have got in the way of coverage.
As I wrote in my first article on Zephan Parker - ‘Would you, could you wear a cowboy boot?’ - this is a style called a roper, which doesn’t have the pitched heel or pointy, upturned toe that make a cowboy boot so distinctive.
It means they’re much easier to wear, but they do still have a western style. Certainly when you see the embroidery on the side, or the shape tops, but even if you just see that pointed-almond toe shape (below). No other style of footwear we cover looks like that.
The fit of the boots was very good with the fitting boot covered last time, and is very good now.
It’s particularly hard to make a long slip-on boot like this, where there’s no elastic, laces, or other adjustable fastening to help with the fit. The boot needs just the right balance between holding the foot in place, and still being able to get it on.
There’s very little margin for error, and when you’re pushing your foot in with all your might, or pulling it out with the aid of the tabs, you feel how small that margin is. Fortunately Zephan got it just right. Especially impressive given we’ve never actually met (see previous post for how the fitting worked).
In terms of quality, this is a real step up from the trial boot, which is good because the slight roughness of that first one had me concerned - even though Zephan made it clear what they were.
The stitching is good, the finishing clean, and the tattoo-inspired embroidery nicely executed. We’re not talking the level of finishing of a top bespoke shoemaker, or perhaps one of the best manufacturers, but it’s still well done.
The style of the finished boot is also different around the top - side seams rather than front seam, heart shaped top line, and contrast pullers - and this too is pleasing. I’m glad I didn’t go for the alligator tops I originally wanted, as that would have likely been a step too far.
I also changed my mind on the colour of the leather, and I’m still a little unsure about that. I wanted something a little lighter than the brown of the fitting boots, but this snuff is a little stronger and warmer than I expected.
It looks great here with lighter clothes like mid-blue jeans and a white T-shirt. I can wear a grey knit or sweatshirt over the top, and various casual outerwear styles work well - like a military drab M65 or jungle jacket, or a duck-canvas chore coat.
But it’s not so great with other colours of jeans (other than white) and a darker brown would have been more versatile. As, probably, would a paler, sandy brown, like my Edward Green desert boots. That’s a colour you often see western boots in, and I think that more muted colour would have been easier.
In fact given I’ve had these boots for six months, we can ask the actual question - how often have I worn them?
Not an awful lot is the answer, perhaps 12 or 14 times. And actually the boots would look better if I’d worn them more and they were more beaten up. (They’re new in these photographs, but haven’t changed that much since.)
Now I have a lot (lot) more shoes than most people. Partly because clothing is my primary interest, but more significantly because it’s my job.
But even if it wasn’t, I think these boots would remain a nice alternative for me - something to go for when you want a change, when the rest of the outfit seems a little predictable or boring. Like wearing a black beret rather than a watch cap.
However, I do think they could be more fundamental to a wardrobe for someone else. I know Alex Natt wears his Red Wing Peco roper boots in that way, as the cold-weather option alongside non-western clothes like a short waxed jacket, and it looks great. People like Ben Chamberlain - manager of the London Bryceland’s store - does something similar.
In fact, if anything my experience with western boots so far has emboldened me, made me think I could wear a regular cowboy boot as well. If it was in a dark leather, I could wear them as I wore the fitting boot here, in winter, quite easily I think.
They would still be that nice alternative, but that was always going to be the case. It’s still a big step from my original fear that western boots would simply look ridiculous.
As is often the case with an unusual piece of menswear, this article has become about whether to wear something, rather than the maker themselves.
That was the point of the first piece really, so I want to emphasise here how impressive Zephan’s fitting was, and how much I’d recommend Parker Boot Co to anyone else looking for something along these lines.
You’ll be in good hands, and when I do finally get to return to Texas, he’ll be my first stop.
Zephan’s boots start at $2500 and are all made custom, to order. Like many custom bootmakers he is in high demand, with a current delivery time of 16 months. The other clothes shown here are:
- White PS Tapered T-shirt
- Vintage 60s Levi's
- Omega 70s Speedmaster
- For clothes from the previous article (outfit below), see here