Lucchese master bootmaker Pedro Lopez has been handmaking boots for over 40 years. A third-generation bootmaker, Pedro learned how to hand make boots 53 years ago from his father. At the age of 6, he used drop off lunch at his father's job and would help him with minor tasks.
In 1971, Pedro’s father moved to Ciudad Juarez to work in the boot industry for little shops like Posada Boots, Bob Boots and Rio Hondo Boots, among others; years later, he moved to Nogales, Sonora to work at El Gato Negro boot company. In 1966, Pedro’s father passed away, and Pedro stepped in to support his family and took his first job at the age of 13. He started hand-welt stitching, a skill that is rare among artisans and requires a high level of precision and dexterity. He began to gain recognition for his talent and fast stitching.
In 2002, Pedro Lopez joined Lucchese as a hand laster and became a wiring laster later on. He is one of very few people in the world that still know how to hand stitch boots, a part of the bootmaking process that is done by a machine.
In a regular 8-hour work day, he can make 90 to 100 pairs of boots a day, making the toe wiring. In his line of work, quality is essential, as it deals with the boot toes, where everything must be precise to yield an identical pair of boots. According to Pedro, the easiest boots to work with when toe wiring are the ones with smooth, plain leather in the toe; boots with exotic leathers, like the caiman crocodile tail, require more precision with the placement of the leather.
Pedro compares making boots to creating music—he says “there is always something new to learn, and a person must love what he or she does because it shows in the final product.” He likes working at Lucchese and making toe wiring, and says Lucchese is a whole team where everyone takes care of making products of the highest quality possible.
Among Pedro’s favorite boots are ones with a 7-toe, which is what he prefers to wear. When asked what he would do if he were not making boots, Pedro would have liked to have been in the entertainment business. In fact, Pedro used to perform in a band and was an impersonator of Juan Gabriel, a well-renowned Mexican singer. To this day, Pedro likes to play the guitar and sing in his spare time.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Pedro wants to make boots until the last day of his life. This familial passion for bootmaking continues in the Lopez family and has been passed on to one of Pedro’s nephews, who now works for Lucchese.
After 46 years of making boots, Pedro says this is what he wants, this is what he loves, and he strives everyday to learn something new as he simultaneously honors a centuries-old tradition.