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That's Lucchese? Legendary bootmaker aims for high-fashion future with big Houston flagship store

2 new Lucchese March 2014 Chiara
Lucchese Chiara sandal, $995, has an opanka leather sole hand-molded over a wooden base, shaping it to the contours of the foot. Photo courtesy of Lucchese
5 new Lucchese March 2014 Fausto
Fausto, $795, is made in a reverse sew construction and hand-dipped to attain its rich color. Photo courtesy of Lucchese
4 new Lucchese March 2014 Carina
Carina, $795, is a pointed toe stiletto with calfskin overlays paying homage to Lucchese’s Western heritage. Photo courtesy of Lucchese
3 new Lucchese March 2014 Alesandro
Alesandro, $895, is elegant oxford with cuoio exterior, goatskin inlay and calfskin lined interior. Photo courtesy of Lucchese
1 new Lucchese March 2014 Carolina
Carolina, $1,295, a pointed toe sling-back, is finished with a silver toe cap — a nod to Lucchese's Western heritage. Photo courtesy of Lucchese
2 new Lucchese March 2014 Chiara
5 new Lucchese March 2014 Fausto
4 new Lucchese March 2014 Carina
3 new Lucchese March 2014 Alesandro
1 new Lucchese March 2014 Carolina

Lucchese is proud of its heritage. But the famed Texas bootmaker is out to prove that it can expand beyond premium western footwear.

The company, known for making expensive high-quality cowboy boots for presidents, celebrities, ranchers and urban cowboys for 130 years, recently launched a shoe collection that the gals of Sex and the City would covet. Included in the lineup are sexy sling-back pumps, flat sandals and stacked-heel stilettos in luxe exotic skins.

 The company, known for making cowboy boots for presidents, ranchers and urban cowboys for 130 years, has launched a footwear collection that the gals of Sex and the City would covet. 

"It's a bit of leap, I understand that," said executive vice president of marketing and creative director William Zeitz. "But we've had a lot of fashionable women that wear Lucchese boots, so we knew that Lucchese had a tremendous amount of expertise in exotic leathers. That pump is a great example of how we can use our expertise in Nile crocodile but interpret it in a new way."

The new collection, while totally modern, pays homage to Lucchese's equestrian heritage with such details as a silver metal toe cap on a stilletto or four-stitch handbar tacking on an update Roper. One popular seller, a glamorous strappy sandal with a high heel called the Chiara, is handcrafted in Italy using an opanka construction method that molds the leather sole over a wooden base to match the contours of the foot. "It's a lost art,"  Zeitz said.

For guys, the new collection offers suede loafers, linen lace-ups and urban boots with metal buckle detail. 

The collection, which ranges from $695 for a flat linen sandal to $4,250 for a pair of riding boots in calvary blue Nile crocodile, is available at Tootsies and at Lucchese stores in San Antonio, Santa Fe and Nashville, as well as the Lucchese website.

The company, which under the direction of Dallas venture capitalist James Muse is aiming to become a lifestyle brand with a wide array of offerings, including handbags, accessories and apparel, plans a big flagship store in Highland Village, set to open in late summer in a 5,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Ann Taylor.

"We'll be rolling out one or two stores a year. And the very first place we wanted to be was Houston. I think it's the biggest boot market in the world,"  Zeitz said. "We'll carry the full Lucchese product range from western to fashion. In everything we do we're trying to give the customer the best experience possible. That's what it's all about."

But it won't be straying too far from its western roots. A national advertising campaign for the new high-fashion shoe line, which launched in the April issue of major fashion magazines, features models in cowboy hats. "Quite frankly, behind the scenes we tried it without the cowboy hat and it just didn't look as good," Zeitz said.

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