Cowboy boots are synonymous with country music. Not simply for the aesthetic, but the personal connection established between the artist and the history of the boots. Lucchese Bootmaker works to help establish that connection. The high-end boot company has been operating for more than 130 years after native Sicilian, Salvatore Lucchese, made his way to San Antonio, Texas in 1883, ultimately creating the distinct style of cowboy boots that draws in fans from around the world.
Though its flagship location is in El Paso, Texas, one of Lucchese’s most successful stores is housed in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood. In conjunction with its permanent Music City location, the popular boot brand has opened the Lucchese Record Shop, a limited time pop-up attached to the new JW Marriott hotel downtown that will remain open through the 2018 holiday season.
The pop-up serves as a representation of the long partnership between Lucchese and record label Universal Music Group Nashville. Home to the likes of Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban and more, many of UMG’s artists have made Lucchese boots a part of their daily lives. This longtime relationship inspired the two companies to combine their talents in the form of a pop-up shop featuring a variety of Lucchese products, along with merchandise from UMG artists.
Visitors can sip on Texas brewed Shiner Beer and hear live music while exploring an array of vinyl, including Underwood’s Cry Pretty, What Makes You Country from Bryan and Twain’s iconic Up!, along with copies of vintage Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline records.
A wall of skillfully-crafted boots meets your eye as you walk in, including custom styles that were built as a prototype and are no longer in production, and specialty boots brought in from other stores around the country. In the corner are sewing machines dating back to the early 1900s from the production shop in El Paso, along with a model of the brand’s twisted cone last design used in every pair of its boots. They’ve even created a replica of the famous “What Lifts You” angel wings mural in downtown Nashville using Lucchese’s signature boot stitch.
“We have a lot of good friends that’s been Lucchese fans, even before we had any idea that they worked for UMG,” says Dustin Bowen, general manager of Lucchese Nashville. “All of their artists offer such a unique sound, a unique experience. We thought that it was a no brainer to pair with Lucchese.”
“The records we’re selling in the record shop are the same records that are playing in our office and in our store, so it all came together very naturally,” adds Lucchese’s Senior Director of Marketing Teddy Boxberger about the partnership. “Lucchese boots are art, just wearable art. When you see how these products are made by hand, by craftsman, you quickly come to realize the similarities in creation no matter what the medium is, be it song lyrics or leather.”
There’s a sense of loyalty that’s developed between the artists and the boot brand, so much so that Lucchese staff view them not as customers, but family. Eric Church has created his own line of boots with Lucchese in the form of These Boots, with the singer designing 10 different styles that fans gravitate to at his live shows. Jon Pardi can often be seen wearing a pair of Lucchese’s on stage, while Lauren Alaina and “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” singer Travis Denning are also fans of the acclaimed boot brand.
“Pretty much all their artists that have ever come in with us we’ve always felt a really close connection with all of them,” Bowen describes. “Luke Bryan, probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in your life, he’ll help clean up after we’ve done a whole sit-down with him about what we want to do for his next pair. We really feel more like family than anything together.”
Chris Stapleton is the most compelling example of someone who’s established a genuine passion for his boots–a pair of vintage Luccheses that have long been a part of his life. After Stapleton’s impactful Traveller album was released in 2015 and took him from distinguished behind-the-scenes songwriter to revered superstar, he fitted every member of his band and crew for a pair of Lucchese boots to personally thank them for their hard work.
“He was like ‘I want them to know how appreciative I am of their work, so I want to get them a gift that’s going to last, that they’ll be able to pass down to their children one day.’ You could tell, he got a little emotional over it just because of how close of a connection he had with his boots,” Bowen recalls. “The stories that those boots can tell later on in life, that’s really what he wanted to give to them.”
The pop-up Lucchese Record Shop at the JW Marriott is open Thursday through Sunday and will close at the beginning of January.