When Thomas Arditti started his footwear business, he did not intend on making boots. He was interested in solely making men’s alligator shoes and other accessories such as wallets and belts. But instinct kicked in when a client asked for a pair of custom boots, and the rest is history.
Arditti is now considered one of the top custom bootmakers in the state. Texas Monthly named Tomasso Arditti Boots one of the Top 25 Custom Bootmakers in Texas. He has made boots for the Pope when he visited Juárez in 2016, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and other dignitaries, movie stars, musicians and athletes. He also made a pair of gold boots and a pair of Palladium boots, inspired by Art Deco tin ceiling tiles.
Arditti, who is from a family of lawyers, was heading down the legal path when he decided to go in a completely different direction just before entering law school.
“I always enjoyed footwear — shoes and dress shoes — and I was wanting to, you know, create shoes and be creative in the shoemaking industry,” Arditti says. “When I graduated college, I was supposed to go to law school and decided not to go. I decided to start making alligator goods.”
After making his first pair of boots, he was hooked and learned the trade from craftsmen who had been making boots for decades. What sets him apart from other bootmakers, he says, is that Tomasso Arditti boots are custom-made using the traditional methods he learned.
“Nowadays, there are factory boots where the top stitch, the tops designs, are all done by computer,” Arditti says. “We have workers that sit down at a sewing machine and stitch the tops freehand. It’s just a throwback to when boots were made all by hand.”
While he uses the finest materials for his boots — from ostrich to sturgeon and his go-to American alligator — Arditti is most proud of the craftsmanship that goes into each pair. He has a small team of five, each of whom he refers to as maestros, who help him build each set of boots to a customer’s feet — there are no off-the-rack pieces here.
Arditti’s team handmakes all their boots in a small building off Missouri Avenue in Central El Paso. There, Arditti and his team of boot maestros are making high-quality boots that are more than simply something worn on one’s feet.
“When people buy our boots, they’re actually purchasing an heirloom. It’s something that can be passed on, from father to son, mother to daughter, etc.,” Arditti says. “That is a reminder of the person who gave it to them, and it’s going to last. It’s indefinite.”