Aggressive & rough: what cowboy boots have in common with the Vengaboys

Yeehaw! The girl sitting across from me on the subway looks intimidatingly cool, which is because she wears her oversized hoodie, super-broad-shouldered men’s coat, sweatpants with snaps at the sides, and low-brow baseball cap with extremely combined with an annoyed look, and with these shoes: huge black cowboy boots. It’s not the $2,500 lizard-skin “Nancys” by Saint Laurent named after Nancy “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” Sinatra, nor by Chloé (they have more embroidery) or Diesel (they have a taller one Unit volume). They are probably second-hand models.

No sneaker has such an aggressive, rough effect

The brand doesn’t matter anyway, what matters is the effect: that aggression that cowboy boots convey visually through their sharp points at the front and the slanted heels at the back, which seem designed to happily stub butts in the dust. No sneaker has such an aggressive, rough effect. Whereby the style power of cowboy boots, as the girl on the subway is a good example, also depends heavily on the context, i.e. on who wears the boots and how. When beer-bellied, 50+ denim rockers, knotting their remaining hair in a fluffy ponytail, walking around in the bourgeois version of western boots à la Deichmann (with a rounded toe at the front, lower heels, thinner soles, etc.), it looks ridiculous , and not rough at all.

It is important that the form is not watered down and – for the alienation effect – that the boots stand in contrast to the rest of the outfit. Like in the subway, where the girl counteracts the looseness of her sportswear with these shoes. It makes me think that Achilles Ion Gabriel, the designer at CamperLab, recently designed some very nice cowboy booties that collide with looseness and toughness.

They are called “Venga” and are probably named after the Vengaboys. According to the Village People principle “Something for every fetish” – a “cowboy” is one of them. He’s wearing a disco ball ball protector and western boots with football socks peeking out on top. Crazy! Inspired by this clash, the “Venga” ankle boots have a hard-pointed cowboy boot shaft and a bizarre rubber sole that looks as if a cowboy boot sole had been kneaded out of polymer clay with your fingers. The sole takes the sting out of the cowboy or the cowgirl, and seriousness combines with jokes. Yee-ha-ha!

This column first appeared in the Musikexpress issue 04/2023.