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Scott Emmerich has spent his adult life keeping alive the age-old tradition of custom handmade boot making. It’s almost a lost art and one only a handful of boot craftsmen continue worldwide today. “I have in-house, 6 of the best master boot makers in the world and 4 who are older and pickup work and take it home,” Emmerich says with a chuckle. Emmerich then sighs and adds, “My master boot makers range in age from 57 to 86. When we’re gone, we’re gone. There’s no boot makers like us anymore.” Emmerich owns and operates The Tres Outlaws Boot Company in El Paso, Texas.
From tanning their own leather to the finishing polish, Emmerich and his team create custom western boots that are not only molded to fit a customer’s foot perfectly, but every stitch and detail are meticulously and completely done by hand. Emmerich proudly says,
“I like the artistic side of me that can create boots that have never been done before. You have to engineer them because my boots are art that can also be worn.”
This fall, Central Oregonians will get a rare treat and opportunity to meet Emmerich and see some of Tres Outlaws’ prize boots at a special one-day event on Saturday, November 8th. Joanne Sunnarborg has been a fan of Emmerich and his boots since she opened her store 18 years ago. “I have a collection of Tres Outlaws Boots and just when I tell myself I have enough, we do a show and I discover a pair I just have to add to my collection,” says Sunnarborg. As proprietor of Desperado Boutique in the Old Mill District, Sunnarborg says, “Bringing Emmerich to the store gives people a chance to learn about boot making and the opportunity to create their own pair of wearable art.”
Tres Outlaws Boots start at about $500 and have gone as high as $50,000. The ultra expensive boots include details like exotic leathers, 18 karat gold and precious stones. A simple pair of Tres Outlaws Boots has 210 steps and takes 40 hours to make. The company makes about 10 pairs a week, and depending on difficulty customers can expect to wait anywhere from 4 weeks to a year to get a pair made. Emmerich says, “I am very detail oriented. There are no short cuts when you’re getting the best of the best,” and adds, “My customers know the cost and wait are worth it.”
Recently a prize pair inspired from a trip to Spain won Emmerich the Western Spirit Award and the People’s Choice Award at the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The boots took hundreds of hours to make and nearly 200 different colors can be seen in the butterflies and crosses that adorn the leather. “I like my boots to tell the story of people’s lives or what they love in life,” reflects Emmerich.
Tres Outlaws boots are also featured in numerous books and on display in museums including a permanent exhibit called “Legends of the West” at the George Bush Presidential Library. Emmerich says, “It’s nice to be in museums, but my favorite part is the testimonials from people who love my boots and making people happy is the largest compliment of all.”
So when asked in our recent phone interview why people should come see his boots when he visits Bend, Emmerich again says with a long laugh, “All you need to bring are your ideas and your feet. I’ve designed 40,000 boots over the last 32 years and my favorite ones are the ones still in my head.”
Scott Emmerich of Tres Outlaws Boot Company will be at Desperado Boutique in the Old Mill District on Saturday, November 8th from 12pm-8pm. 330 SW Powerhouse Drive, Ste 120, Bend, OR 541-749-9980 www.desperadowesternwear.com