Building Better Boots: An Interview with Austin Condit

Building Better Boots: An Interview with Austin Condit

Building Better Boots: An Interview with Austin Condit

Austin Condit, our Senior Director of Men’s Western Footwear and Outdoor Footwear, has been helping us build better boots since he started his career at Ariat over fourteen years ago.

Top photo courtesy of Jay Williams & Great White Oak Media

Austin Condit, our Senior Director of Men’s Western Footwear and Outdoor Footwear, has been in the Western business since he was only eight years old. What started as a lesson in budgeting and a small toy buying gig at his family’s Western store blossomed into a lifelong passion for the Western industry and making the best cowboy boots on the market right here at Ariat.

Austin is constantly striving to build better boots for cowboys. One of his greatest contributions is helping introduce our best-selling, breathable VentTEK boot technology. But he didn’t stop there -- he’s behind countless other fan-favorite products and is currently working on our new premium Bench Made collection launching this fall.

We recently sat down with him to learn more about his career at Ariat and the Western Industry, and what to expect from our upcoming Bench Made collection.

How long have you been at Ariat?

I've been at Ariat for fourteen years and am currently the Senior Director of Men’s Western Footwear and Outdoor Footwear. I actually met my wife Lauren here many years ago. Now, we have a two-year-old daughter and a baby boy on the way.

How do you live the Western Lifestyle?

I grew up in a ranching family and my parents actually owned a Western store. I started as a Western buyer when I was only eight! I would go to different places and look for toys I wanted us to sell in our store. It taught me a lot about budgeting and negotiation.

When I was a little older, my grandfather bought me my first horse and taught me how to ride. Family friends Greg and Sandy Simon took me down to the Sun Country Circuit in Arizona to show. I learned a phenomenal amount about horsemanship and roping, and that is truly what started my passion for horses. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved everything about the cowboy lifestyle.

What do you love about roping?

I love the horsemanship part of it, and I like being around people that are enthusiastic and happy to be in the arena. When you get to a higher level and you’re trying to win for a living and make a name for yourself, it can get really intense. I'm at the point now where I'm competitive and want to rope well, but most importantly, have fun doing it.

Why is horsemanship important to you?

To me, roping has always been about the horse. I genuinely love my horses and think they are some of the best animals out there. I want my horses to be happy, and I want to treat them better than I treat myself. If you’re cowboying every day and riding them a ton, you have to take good care of them. I want my horses to be well-conditioned and have a good temperament, but above all, I want them to be happy and enjoy their job.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working on the Western footwear and building boots for cowboys that are just like me. Perhaps my favorite part of my role is working with the Design and Development teams to create new technically-advanced features or products for the Western consumer. Season after season, its fun to bring these innovations to Western and Outdoor consumers.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

We are the leading producer in the world for men’s Western footwear products and we continue to grow every year. Naturally, it’s a challenge to manage the business and keep up with demand.

Tell us more about how you conceptualized our fan-favorite VentTEK boots?

I was out shipping cattle one summer with friends, and it was scorching hot outside. They were complaining about how hot their boots were, and the VentTEK idea came to me in that moment. I had seen similar technologies in athletic footwear and our VentTEK shirts, so I brought the idea for mesh paneling and breathability features in cowboy boots back to our designers. I had no idea it would become so popular with our consumers!

The cool thing about our VentTEK products is that the technology really works. The boots are so breathable and are great for both urban and country settings. There’s nothing worse than having your foot encapsulated in heat and it can be like a sauna down there. VentTEK boots solve this problem.

In your opinion, what makes Ariat boots so special?

Ariat has always been focused on making the best boots. We put a lot of time, research, and testing into building the best-performing products available. I collaborate with our design team, travel the market, and work with our athletes to understand market needs and what’s possible. This informs the process. You can always count on Ariat for Western boots with unsurpassed quality, durability, fit and comfort.

What can you tell us about Ariat’s upcoming Bench Made collection?

Our Bench Made launch is something I’m really excited about. This fall, we are introducing the extremely elevated, premium Bench Made boot collection with the highest level of comfort, durability, and technology on the market. We utilized beautiful leathers and exotic skins to build the best most comfortable boots for the cowboy lifestyle. Select styles launch in fall, and the full collection will be available Spring ’23.

You can bet that when Bench Made boots are available, I’ll be wearing them nonstop!

Meet some other friendly faces behind your favorite products at Ariat:

Brooke Teixeira, Senior Product Manager for Western Denim

Shane Holman, Senior Director of Western Footwear and Trends

Jenni Smith, Senior Product Manager for English Apparel and Accessories