In 1887, Tony Lama was born to Italian immigrant parents. At the early age of 11 he learned his first lessons in the boot industry. Apprenticed as a young boy by his uncle a shoemaker in Syracuse, New York, where he learned the boot and leather trade.
Tony Lama joined the U.S. Cavalry after the turn of the century, he served as a cobbler at Fort Bliss, Texas for the soldiers stationed there. He decided to stay in a nearby border town of El Paso once he completed his tour of service. After his stint in Calvary, Tony Lama set out to make the most comfortable, best fitting boot possible after realizing the importance of a good boot fit.
At first, repairs were the largest part of his business, soon word spread quickly about Tony Lama's Western boots all throughout the Southwest. Ranchers and cowboys were carrying hides and joining other cavalrymen in requesting custom-made boots. Tony Lama in only one year had made 20 pairs of boots with him and only one helper.
Tony Lama concentrated solely on making quality Western boots, after the army phased out the horse soldiers. Western wear stores began asking for his boots in the 1930’s. In order to keep up with the growing demands, he developed methods to produce larger quantities without giving up the key steps in hand crafting. Nearly 50 years after the first store opened, in 1961, the company began making 750 pairs of boots a day and they then moved into larger quarters.
In 1974, Tony Lama passed away, but his daughters and sons continued his tradition of hand craftsmanship and quality, making this a true American success story. Tony Lama soon became part of the Justin Boot family in 1990. For many years they were competitors, and now these companies have set the standard for craftsmanship and quality worldwide.