Texas

Square-toe boots are popular among Texas Hispanic youth and are a symbol of identity and pride.

When speakers at the Rodeo West Dallas club in southwest Dallas played “La Boda del huitlacoche” by Karine Leon, the hugely popular norteña while dancing the national anthem, Teresa Vega took to the wooden floor with two friends celebrating a bachelorette party after a week of work.

The music, the stage and the crowd were like any other evening with norteña and regional Mexican music, but one element is new these days: instead of the traditional pointy-toed cowboy boots, much of the crowd on this early January evening was in square-toed boots.

Long considered a symbol of worker pride, these boots have become an unexpected and surprising element of cultural identity among young Hispanics.

Used by generations of farmers and trench builders, there is hardly anything new about these boots, except now they take center stage on the dance floor.

A couple dances in square shoes on the dance floor at Rodeo West Dallas on Saturday night, January 7, 2023.(Ben Torres / special contestant)

They have become a symbol of fashion and the main element of the constantly moving oval train of dancers who take two steps across the dance floor. Vega’s brown boots are decorated with blue flowers. Others wear boots with original designs of sunflowers, birds, and even Texas flag motifs.

“I love how they look (and match) with any outfit. It’s also a way to keep the tradition of how I dressed in Mexico,” said Vega, 30, from Guadalajara.

If cowboys are the symbol of Texas, then boots are what make cowboys. They are not only part of the Texas experience, but also part of the cultural heritage of people in northern Mexico, where cowboy boots and techana at weddings and formal occasions, hats are far superior to shiny black shoes.

Square-toed boots have always been around, but were mostly used by people doing hard work.

Not anymore.

Leo Hernandez, who runs Gomez Western Wear in Dallas, with several stores in North Texas, said the boots are most in demand among people under 30.

“Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in the number of young people coming to buy these boots,” he said. “The fashion has shifted from pointed boots to square boots, which are a mix of Texas country boots and traditional Mexican boots.”

A man in square-toed boots dances at the West Dallas Rodeo on Saturday night, January 7th...
A man in square-toed boots dances at the West Dallas Rodeo on Saturday night, January 7, 2023, in Dallas. (Ben Torres / special contestant)

“Our target customer base is young people… They always want the newest and any color. Just like in the past everyone wanted a Nike or Jordan sneaker, now they want a few pairs of shoes to fit the trend,” Hernandez said.

The fashion trend Hernandez is referring to is a recent style known as takuache kuh‘, where young people use the mushroom-shaped hairstyle (known as Edgar’s haircut) and listen corridos tumbados – songs describing their Mexican roots and experiences in the US as children of immigrants – and wear square-toed boots.

Part of this culture is driving modified pickup trucks with big wheels, also known asMamalonas”, but still keeping in touch with village life by attending rodeos and dancing norteña and band music.

Jonathan Angulo, member of the Dallas Mexican-American Historical League, said the square-toe shoe trend represents a generational change from millennials to Gen Z and an evolutionbouchon‘ in the style of the 2000s and 2010s, when young people wore shiny baseball caps, skull shirts and pointed boots.

Cedith Hernandez (left) dances with Esteban Cortes Gutiérrez as they both wear a pair...
Jedith Hernandez (left) dances alongside Esteban Cortez Gutierrez in square shoes on the dance floor at Rodeo West Dallas on Saturday night, January 7, 2023.(Ben Torres / special contestant)

“Difference between takuaches end buds is that the former are less associated with the drug culture. It seems that takuaches more related to the music of the band as a whole and without the emphasis on narcocorridos (drug ballads),” said Angulo, Ph.D. researcher in Hispanic history at Southern Methodist University.

A fashion trend may be a sign of the times, but it also comes with significant costs. Some square toe models sell for over $1,000, depending on leather type and design.

Vega, a nurse from Dallas, hit the dance floor in dark jeans, a long-sleeved floral blouse and her new pair of boots, which she said she bought for $700.

“For every taste and budget. We like to offer different prices because we know that some young people do not have much money or have to save money on buying shoes, ”said Hernandez.

“It all comes down to identity and a way to say, ‘I can afford these boots and these trucks.’ It shows (that) you have some purchasing power,” said Perez, a communications professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) who studies trends in Hispanic culture and identity.

In late December, 28-year-old Irving resident Francisco Hernandez visited the Gómez Western Wear store on Harry Hines Boulevard to buy a pair of boots and a cowboy vest he planned to wear for the New Year. He paid $500.

“I like to always be in style. With this pair (boots) I will now have four. Yes, they are a little pricey, but they are worth it because they last longer and you can pair them with (wear) anything,” he said.

Fashion for square-toed boots is also popular with teenagers.

Esteban Cortez Gutierrez, clockwise from top left, Cedith Hernandez, Teresa Vega Gomez and...
Esteban Cortez Gutierrez (clockwise from top left), Jedith Hernandez, Teresa Vega Gomez, and Juan Delfin display their square-toed boots at the West Dallas Rodeo on Saturday, January 7, 2023 in Dallas. (Ben Torres / special contestant)

Andrea Cervantes, 17, who lives in Farmers Branch, says she got hooked on the trend when she wore boots as part of a Quinceañera or lady de company last year. Right after that, she bought one pair.

She works at a fast food restaurant and is saving up for a new couple.

“Since that Quinceañera, I love to wear boots and now wear them often. I’m just waiting to be able to save some more money to buy a new pair,” Cervantes said.

A high percentage of shoes sold in Texas are made in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, which accounts for about 70% of Mexico’s shoe production. Guanajuato shipped 29 million pairs of shoes to the US in 2021, according to the Guanajuato Chamber of Footwear Industry.

The boots are made from the skin of different animals. The most common leather is calf, ostrich and crocodile.

No one has a specific answer to when this trend began, but Perez, a UTEP professor, said it was a manifestation of Latino youth identifying with Mexican traditions and culture.

“Each generation likes to create their own fashion, their own style and say: “Look, this is who we are.” And that’s what’s happening to these Texas youth. They want to say, “We are from here and from there. We have (roots) on both sides of the (border) and we’re proud of it,” said Perez, who has researched the Chicano movement, popular culture, and identity issues among Hispanics.

The couple dances on the dance floor at Rodeo West Dallas on Saturday night, January 7, 2023.
The couple dances on the dance floor at Rodeo West Dallas on Saturday night, January 7, 2023.(Ben Torres / special contestant)

“As with any trend, we don’t know how long it will last,” said Perez, a professor at UTEP. “But it’s interesting to see how it has evolved, what it means for the cultural identity and economic power of Hispanic youth in Texas.”

Edgar Torres, 25, said wearing square-toed boots reminded him of his childhood in Guanajuato.

“I’ve always dressed like vaquero since I was a child. When I came here, I sort of stopped using them. But I’m wearing them again. I like to wear them when I go dancing and also when doing other things,” said Torres, who lives in Oak Cliff and proudly wears his shoes when he goes to a dance club.

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