I’ve worn roper-style Western boots for as long as I can remember. In high school, when my feet were big enough, I got a pair vintage Red Wing Pecos from my dad. The roper style is a little different than traditional cowboy boots, which have a taller and angled riding heel. Ropers have a shorter heel, designed to handle a day of walking, and many styles are complemented with a shorter shaft as well. Over the years, I’ve picked up newer ropers from brands like Red Wing Heritage and Tecovas.
I recently came across the Jonah boot from American bootmaker Lucchese. Founded in San Antonio in 1883, the brand is distinguished in the world of Western boots, and it offers a range of modern styles that complement its traditional offerings. The Jonah boot blends a traditional roper with a narrow side-zip shaft. The Lucchese site says it’s equestrian-inspired, but apart from the zipper and slim profile, the style doesn’t scream horseman. It’s a slim boot that pairs well with modern pants, a style both versatile and rooted in tradition. To see if Lucchese’s boot really offered an advantage over my traditional ropers, I got my hands on a pair.
The Good: First and foremost, this is a very good looking boot. It has a slim profile and minimal flourishes, making it incredibly versatile. You can pair it with jeans for a more casual look or wear it with slacks as a Chelsea boot stand-in. The American construction is something a lot of people will get behind, and the materials are top notch. The maracca calf suede is a light shade of brown that will age more gracefully than lighter colors, and the zipper is from Riri — the best of the best. Because of the of the weight of the calf suede, these boots are comfortable out of the box and take little time to break in.
Who They’re For: The Jonah is for boot lovers. It has an incredibly versatile silhouette and blends the best qualities of roper boots with a slim profile more frequented by musicians than cowboys. If you love American-made footwear and feel waterlogged by workboots, consider this style. It’s a modern take on a boot that defined the West, suitable for a range of different wardrobes.
Watch Out For: The leather sole is not ideal for everyone. Ever take your leather soled footwear on the ice? No good. Also, if you’re worried about accelerated wear on asphalt or gravel, you can add a Vibram or Topy rubber sole-protector without greatly altering the silhouette. While the calf suede is more comfortable out of the box and breaks in faster than a thicker hide, it probably won’t have the life of a roughout boot (like Red Wing Heritage’s Pecos style). This is a boot for everyday wear; it’s not a work boot — and you should be aware of this if you aren’t already. The price is also a deterrent for some. They’re a substantial investment at almost $800.
Alternatives: There are a number of zip boots with Western silhouettes. One of the more affordable options is the Frye Campus Inside Zip, which costs $458. Like the Jonah boot, it’s made in the USA and comes in an earthy suede colorway. In an upper price tier, Raf Simon’s Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collection includes the suede Western Tod zip boot; it is made in Italy and costs $1,096. Then there’s up the Saint Laurent Wyatt Suede harness boots, which retail for $1,145, or the Tom Ford Icon Wilson leather boots for $1,790 (made in Italy with burnished leather opposed to suede).
Review: A couple years ago, I saw Snake Oil Provisions teasing its collaborative Lucchese Jonah boot on Instagram. They looked badass: a worn-suede roper silhouette tucked under a pair of raw-hemmed tapered jeans. It was equal parts cowboy, biker and rock star — a traditional boot modernized with a slim zip shaft. But time got the better of me and I didn’t get my hands on a pair of Jonahs until recently. Once I pulled them out of the box, I kicked myself for not doing it sooner.
The boots have a sleek profile akin to a few of Lucchese’s traditional Western models. Made from three pieces of maracca calf suede, the boot features a smooth and substantial Riri zipper with a leather zipper pull. The leather sole is complimented by a leather stacked heel, which has a rubber protector that can easily be replaced. The Jonah is lined with leather, sports a leather footbed and includes a steel shank for longevity.
Out of the box, these boots are very comfortable, due mainly to the use of calf suede. I’ve suffered the gauntlet of heel blisters and have come to expect as such from breaking in ropers (notably the Pecos). The suede here, though soft and easy-wearing, isn’t a cop-out. The hide ages gracefully and even looks a little better worn-in than new.
Other roper boots I own force compromises with how I wear my pants. Sometimes my jeans are too tapered and can’t cover the shaft, so they end up tucked inside. Other times, the pants can slip over the outside but can look a little wonky with the displaced silhouette. Only my traditional straight-leg pants sit over the shaft of my ropers without too much of a hassle. The Jonah looks good with all my pants, and there’s never a question of how to style it. The seven-inch shaft height is just long enough for a zip style, leaving your calves enough room to flex while still giving you coverage where you need it. Finally, the relatively simple non-embellished exterior makes this a winner for many different styles.
Verdict: This is a very cool boot. It checks many of the boxes that I personally look for: quality materials, American manufacturing, resolable, understated. It also draws upon Western traditions with a sleek foot profile and roper heel. The zip shaft is narrower than many traditional ropers, which makes it easy to pair with modern tapered jeans and chinos. If you’re looking for a versatile non-work boot style and have the budget to spare, this boot should be at the top of your list.
What Others Are Saying:
• “I’ve been waiting for years, more than 10 years, for Lucchese to come out with a slim, modern European-like boot and finally they have arrived. I purchased mine in San Antonio from the store. It took about two months for them to come in. I get compliments on mine all the time. They are comfortable but most importantly they are so slick!” — Elijah Zane, lucchese.com
• “Now, Lucchese, while being a large and well-known bootmaker, is no longer the top-quality manufacturer they once were – at least when dealing with off-the-rack boots (I’ve no experience with their custom process). The Jonah retails at $795, which is almost twice as much as smaller, more renowned Texan bootmakers — although they’re still a step up from makers like Frye. However, it’s not likely that you’ll find something that looks like a Jonah at these other shops, and I’ve only been able to find a few stockists of these boots.” — Jasper Lipton, The Styleforum Journal
• “Purchased Lucchese Jonah is espresso suede. Butter soft, fits like a glove. Only thing I would change is the price tag so I could afford all three color variations. No break-in period required — soft from the start and contours to your foot in hours. helpful to get a rubber topy sole installed for city walking — leather soles do not last unless you decide to wear them to the office and no sidewalk travels. Maybe a Dainite sole version would be best for true city walking.” — Alexander M., lucchese.com
Material: Maracca calf suede
Shaft Height: 7 inches
Widths: D, EE
Sizes: Half sizes between 8 and 12, whole sizes between 13 and 15
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