If you visited Calgary during Stampede Week, you couldn’t avoid being immersed in the ‘Western’ atmosphere of the event. With sights of large cowboy hats, leather boots, and plaid patterns across Calgary during Stampede, western wear is without a doubt one of the defining features of the festival.
Stampede is an international affair. Each year, Stampede Park hosts 4 million guests from all over the world, including more than 1,200 business, tourism, sporting, hospitality, and community events. Invest Alberta team members, for example, donned their western best to host an Investment Forum (or investment rodeo) during the festivities to show international investors what Alberta has to offer.
Western clothing is a source of pride for many Albertans — a distinguishable feature that brings people together and creates a sense of community. Some have taken this passion and turned it into their livelihoods by bringing the ‘Alberta style’ to international attention.
One company that perfectly fits this mold is Alberta Boot. Located in Calgary since their 1978 inception, Alberta Boot is known for designing, creating, and selling high quality men’s and women’s leather boots. Their high level of craftsmanship is ensured through meticulous production methods, resulting in boots that truly capture the Alberta spirit through their form, durability, and style.
The company supplies footwear to multiple law enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States, reaching areas as far as Dallas and New Jersey. CEO Eytan Broder believes these partnerships with law enforcement agencies have potential to be expanded to other countries in the future, due to the company’s ability to deliver the high quality and highly specialized footwear needed.
Alberta Boot was acquired last year by a group of local Calgary investors and is undergoing what Broder describes as a “brand renewal.” This attitude shift is largely characterized by a greater emphasis on showcasing Alberta Boot’s storied legacy, the brand’s ties to the province, as well as targeting younger demographics as part of its core audience. Immersive and interactive experiences are at the forefront of Alberta Boot’s vision as a result, and these elements are reflected greatly in their new Calgary flagship location that opened in July.
The location, referred to as the company’s “brand experience centre,” is designed to encourage people to explore the storefront while simultaneously learning about the stories behind Alberta Boot and the ‘modern west’. The retail space is also directly connected to Alberta Boot’s factory, giving customers the ability to catch a glimpse of the company’s boot manufacturing process via a 40-foot long interior glass wall that separates the two departments. Each pair of boots are hand-made without any synthetics and takes approximately twenty-two hours to complete from start to finish, which includes around seven hours of labour.
Twice the size of their previous location, the new space offers a variety of amenities to enhance the overall shopping experience, from a boot shining station, to espresso and bourbon bars, and even a space for private events. Modern, minimalist aesthetics have also been incorporated into the design of the retail space itself, and when combined with the rustic and western heritage of Alberta Boot, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the ‘modern west.’
Alberta Boot’s shift towards incorporating modern, future-focused elements is not just in retail. The company is committed to attracting the next generation of leather workers and bootmakers, working to recruit local talent through various institutions. This work is just getting started and is critical to their plans for the future. Broder hopes to introduce training programs and support systems in the near term to give prospective workers the technical and soft skills needed to build and grow their careers in the industry.
Earlier this year, Alberta Boot signed an agreement with the Calgary Stampede to make the brand the official boot of the event. The partnership is a natural fit, with Alberta Boot’s long-time presence in Calgary and plans to grow to an international level. With Stampede back to full force this year and Yellowstone actor Kevin Costner as the parade marshal, it was undoubtedly a fantastic opportunity for Alberta Boot to share their reinvigorated brand and an Alberta story they are eager to share across the globe.
“There’s something beautiful about the story we’re telling.”-Eytan Broder, CEO, Alberta Boot
While the days of the ‘Old West’ are long gone, Alberta Boot and other local businesses are still carrying the Alberta spirit. It is great to see local Alberta companies carry their heritage so proudly and hope that the Alberta story becomes more widely known world-wide.
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