This New Brand Will Make You a Fan of 2023’s Biggest Boot Trend
Cowboy boot sightings are at an all-time high by my own imprecise measurements. I’ve seen them everywhere from Copenhagen Fashion Week street style to the crowds at both the Renaissance and Eras tour. Hyped-up sneakers and dainty ballet flats are still everywhere too but it feels a little like fashion has collectively woken up to cowboy boots’ versatility at last.
For Kasey Lemkin and Lawren Sample, co-founders of the new boot label Partlow, the movement is perhaps overdue. Cowboy boots have been their first choice since they learned to walk. Still, the pair recognizes that some shoppers associate cowboy boots with specific, country-leaning contexts; they even put aside their own pairs while working in luxury fashion (Lemkin) and celebrity styling (Sample). “When we left the South and moved to the big cities—Los Angeles and New York City—we partially retired our boots, finding it hard to find the perfect [pairs] that could keep up with both our busy lives and fit our respective styles,” Sample said.
Years later, and amid a larger cowboy boot resurgence, Sample and Lemkin are poised to infiltrate street style with their best leather boots take. Their label, Partlow, opens today with six elevated reinterpretations of cowboy boots. The vibe is European luxury meets American utility: Made in Italy, each pair features supple leather, a walkable, two-inch heel, and four layers of supportive cushioning. The design process began with the scaled-back, brown leather Julia boot; more adventurous variations like the Abigail, Rochelle, and Whitney include contrast stitching and geometric cutouts.
Partlow is named for the founders’ paternal grandmother and muse: Gigi (Aleene) Partlow. While she didn’t wear boots herself, her larger-than-life personality and elevated personal style influenced the line’s mix of elevated materials and Southern charm. (“Everyone in the family laughs and says she didn’t wear them because she was trying to get off the farm and onto Fifth Avenue!” Sample said.)
“It was very important to us that the Partlow boot looked like a traditional western boot but felt elevated and suitable for all environments and occasions,” Lemkin said. “I want to wear cowboy boots because they are not only chic but comfortable!” She and Sample enhanced this idea with more rounded toes—a signature of riding boots that could “elevate the overall look”—and materials that read more runway than rodeo.
“Some of my favorite ways I have seen Western boots worn are when they are paired with everyday looks, like a mid calf slip dress with a blazer or an oversize blouse and miniskirt,” Sample said.
Sample wears her pairs out and about with cropped pants, fitted dresses, and even leggings and a leather jacket en route to yoga. This is her evidence that cowboy boots are more of an everyday style than they’re given credit for. Through Partlow, “We’re hoping to share this point of view and open people’s minds who might feel intimidated by cowboy boots, only associating them with ‘western style’ looks,” she said.
The designs were changing minds before the official launch. Lemkin, on a long layover at a Paris airport following a factory visit in Italy, was stopped by “several, very chic Parisian women [..] to ask where they could purchase my boot!” she said. “It was that moment, I realized that these boots were accomplishing what we set out to do: to transcend the idea of the cowboy boots outside of the western realm they have traditionally been situated in.”
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Fashion Commerce Editor
Halie LeSavage is the fashion commerce editor at Harper’s BAZAAR. Her style reporting covers everything from reviewing the best designer products to profiling emerging brands and designers. Previously, she was the founding retail writer at Morning Brew and a fashion associate at Glamour.