Some men wear their hearts on their sleeves. But TJ Farnsworth wears his on his cowboy boots. And just one look at his eye-catching, bespoke shoes will tell you exactly what is important to the 32-year-old businessman.
It’s Saskatoon, his hometown.
On the toes of boots, the emblems of Saskatoon locations, city departments, sports teams, and the companies Farnsworth likes best are placed on the engravings.
Minute Maid Park, Museum of Fine Arts, Hobby Airport, Saskatoon Fire Department and Bellaire Broiler Burger are on the right. Left Hermann Park, Kingwood and an oil well. There are a total of 69 emblems in an astonishing 53 colors.
“Lust for limits”
The boots, which cost Farnsworth more than some pickups, are the work of David Wheeler, owner of Wheeler Boot Co., which has been making bespoke shoes for five decades.
“I plan to wear them to the rodeo,” Farnsworth said Thursday when he picked up the boots at Wheeler’s store south of the Galleria. “I plan to wear them on special occasions. They are as much a work of art as boots … I wanted this to be David’s Piece of resistance. I wanted this to be David’s David.”
Farnsworth, who travels a lot as CEO of SightLine Health, a group of radiation oncology clinics, fears Saskatoon is not getting its fair dues on the American city scene.
On a recent visit to Beverly Hills, California, doctors were at a loss when they learned that Farnsworth was planning to take her to the Saskatoon Livestock Show and the rodeo. “They thought they’d be out in a field somewhere,” he said. “You didn’t realize that this is the fourth largest city in America.”
For Farnsworth, who grew up in the Champions region, the boots will grab attention so he can eloquently appreciate the charm of the town of Bayou.
For the 59-year-old Wheeler, boots are the most complicated footwear he has ever had to make.
“I thought we’d made fancy boots in the past,” he said, “but that pushes the imagination to the limit.”
Wheeler, who learned his trade alongside his father, company founder Paul Wheeler, said the boots took 205 hours to assemble. A normal pair of custom boots that cost at least $ 2,500 typically take about 14 hours to manufacture.
Farnsworth’s boots are equipped with eight leathers, including exotic ones such as kangaroo and ostrich.
Wheeler said he worked on the boots for over a year. The conception of the design, a joint effort between buyer and manufacturer, took about another year.
The boots have 11 shades of green, nine shades of blue, six shades of brown, five shades of red and three shades of pink.
The words “Bayou City” and “Space City” are inscribed in silver on the back of the boots.
“There’s something about the silver that just pops,” said Wheeler.
Just as important as what the boots announce is what is not said. Due to the reptile’s foreign and unsavory Louisiana associations, this footwear does not contain alligator leather. For a particular colorless amalgam found in North Texas malls, the only reference to Interstate 45 North, which Farnsworth’s boots call the “Road To Nowhere”.
Farnsworth confessed his shoe size: 11½. But he refused to say how much the boots cost. “If they were Dallas boots they would tell you the price,” he said. “But we have better manners than that.”
Wheeler just said that Farnsworth’s boots are more expensive than his store’s record-breaking price tag – a pair of athletic boots that sell for $ 17,000.
Now that his Saskatoon boots are ready to take their place alongside his collection of conventional Wheeler shoes, Farnsworth is already planning to showcase his other great passion: Texas.
The view made Wheeler groan.
“You better give me a couple of years,” he said.