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14 Western & English Today SPRING 2016 to produce his new designs. Te factory did a successful production run, and Lane delivered the fresh, new styles of boots to his e-retailers ... and they clamored for more. Business grew even faster than it had before, with Lane having more control over design, materials, and quality now that he worked directly with the factory. Wonder- ing if perhaps there was more in store for Lane Boots, he decided to test the wholesale market at the 2010 Dallas Western Market. Retailers responded with overwhelming excitement, and orders fooded in. Te strong response convinced Lane to cease serving the discount e-retailers and focus on serving brick-and-mortar stores. But as sales grew exponentially, so did the company's manufacturing needs. "We found ourselves begging for production space in other factories," says Lane Boots president Justine Lord, who joined the company in 2011 as director of sales and operations. "Sometimes we'd fnd that they just didn't have it to give, or that the leathers we'd specifed were back-ordered. Shipment of our frst collaboration, which was with Double D Ranch several years ago, had much longer delivery times than we'd anticipated. Tat's when Patrick decided to build his own factory." Te factory, built in 2013, is a state-of-the-art facility for a business that prides itself on handcrafsmanship: A lushly landscaped exterior leads to the front ofces, and the soaring, well-lit ceilings arc over the workspace below, where Lane now employs 80 artisan crafspeople. Several pieces of cutting-edge equipment, including a computerized precision leather-cutting machine, relieve workers of a few tedious tasks so they can concentrate on embellishing the cut leather pieces with stitching, stud- ding, inlays, and overlays; afxing hand-stitched welts to the fexible leather soles; and applying heels, tacks, and lemonwood pegs. Hand-sanding and -shaping the soles and heels comes next, followed by the application of unique fnishes. Te painting of the soles in the signa- ture turquoise marks the fnal touch. Owning its own factory has allowed Lane to better serve its employees as well as its customers, to meet deliv- ery schedules, and to add to its production by collaborat- ing with key high-personality brands such as Double D Ranch. Not only has that collaboration continued, Lane has added to its new factory's production with two new partnerships—one with the Junk Gypsies and one with Kippys. Te joint eforts allow the factory to run to capac- ity without having to accept work from other boot com- panies, as many of the other Léon factories do. "We'll probably do more collaborations when the opportunity arises," says Lord, adding that the whole equals more than the sum of the parts in the three collabo- rations so far. She has proven that brands with a signature style can efectively translate that into a boot design, know- ing that it will be manufactured to exacting standards. Te handful of boot styles presented at the frst mar- ket in 2009 has swelled to more than 200 Lane Boots SKUs today. Its three collaborative efforts add even more: about 75 SKUs for the Double D Ranch Collec- tion, 40 for the Junk Gypsies Collection, and 15 for the Kippys Collection. "I knew I had it right when the owner of the factory in which we manufactured previously asked if he could bring his father over to show him our factory," Lane says. In addition to the Léon facility, Lane's home ofce in Arlington, Texas, employs another dozen or so peo- ple. Lane, Lord, and Daniel Amado, Lane Boots' vice president of merchandising, as well as Jorge Fernandez, Lane's budget manager, rotate between the two locations. With all of this rapid expansion, the relentless com- mitment to quality that hallmarks the Lane product line from the beginning remains intact, with boots having many of the features of higher-priced brands such as a sof, full-grain cowhide lining not only in the shaf but in the vamp as well. Te exquisite crafsmanship is another hallmark—with elaborate embroidery, tool- ing, inlay, overlay, and studding. And, of course, there's Lane's signature turquoise sole. However, Lane's pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the comfort factor, which exceeds that of most fashion footwear, boots included. LAST IS FIRST "It all hinges on the last," Amado says when asked what makes Lane Boots so comfortable. "As does every foot- wear company, we have our own last, and it's driven by the philosophy and culture of the company. Naturally, there are specifc dimensions that are standard, but some other companies may sacrifce comfort to make it look good." Adds Lane, "Tere's no need for women to sufer when it's so easy to do it the right way." Amado, a 30-year veteran of the women's fashion footwear industry, elaborates on what Lane considers to be the right way. "Te technical aspect of the last means that it should cradle the foot; that is, the foot should rest on the last without pitching forward or backward. Ten, the pat- ternmakers must be true to the last so that the crafsmen aren't fghting the leather during assembly. Te premium super-fexible leather sole allows the foot to move natu- rally and the boots to be comfortable from the begin- ning without a long break-in period. Further adding to the comfort, we use a moisture-wicking, breathable insole and a shock-absorbing heel with the cushioned inset right where the heel strikes." THE 2016 COLLECTION All the signature embellishments—fringe, studding, inlays, and overlay—that Lane customers have come to love can be found in the 2016 collection, with shaf