What's in a name? For Ariat, it's a commitment to excellence

by Jed Blackwell
What's in a name? For Ariat, it's a commitment to excellence

You know they make your feet FEEL like a king (or queen) when you’re wearing them, but did you know that your Ariat boots have a direct link to thoroughbred royalty?

Wait...what?

You read that right (and you’re likely pronouncing it wrong). “Ariat” isn’t meant to be fancy, so leave that short-a pronunciation in your back pocket. It’s “Ariat” as in “Secretariat”.

Yep.

When Beth Cross, CEO and Co-Founder of Ariat, was looking for a name for the company’s new breed of boots, she looked back to her childhood growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania horse country. 

“That area of Pennsylvania is where Man O’ War came from,” Cross said. “Even going to a restaurant, they’d have trophies in a case or a picture of Man O’ War. It was just embedded there. This wasn’t a very wealthy area of Pennsylvania, it was really more rural. There are a lot of great thoroughbreds that came out of that part of the world, and we just always had an interest in it.”

One of her lasting memories is of watching Secretariat in the history-making 1973 Kentucky Derby.

“There were eight of us,” Cross explained. “I have seven brothers and sisters, my mom ran the farm, and my dad had a pipefitting business. We started out doing a lot of 4H shows with chickens, sheep, and pigs, but I’ve always loved horses. My mom started getting some horses for the farm, and she had a small breeding operation raising thoroughbreds for the tracks. This was on a very small scale. But once you get started in the thoroughbred world, you just love racing. Every Friday night, we’d go to the track for harness racing. We watched all the races on television. We just loved it. I was young when Secretariat won the Triple Crown, but we knew it was a big deal and it’s something you always remember. It was an extraordinary series of races.”

You know THAT story. The 1973 Triple Crown winner is a thoroughbred racing legend, with a heart three times the size that of normal racehorses, and a tremendous will to win. According to the Ariat website, “his athleticism and non-stop competitive spirit make him an enduring inspiration for our company”.

The son of Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal got HIS official name from Elizabeth Ham, secretary to Penny Chenery, his owner. Ham had worked for the secretariat of the League of Nations, and threw the term in on a whim with a second set of possible official names for “Big Red”, after an initial set was rejected by Kentucky’s Jockey Club.

The rest is history, and it’s inspired the name of some of the world’s finest work boots. Ariat was the first company to integrate athletic footwear technology into boots for equestrian athletes. That’s progressed to innovative and award-winning performance products for all types of outdoor and work environments. Ariat develops advanced technologies for boots and work shoes, partnering with biomechanical research groups, working with global suppliers to develop materials that are lighter, cooler, and more durable than anything in the market, and maintaining a commitment to real-world functionality. 

“Naming a company or a brand is tricky,” Cross said. “You want something that’s meaningful and memorable, but also something that other people don’t have. That’s how that worked.”

The design, materials, and workmanship in every pair of Ariat boots is unmatched, with many going through 150 steps during construction to ensure world-class performance, fit, and durability. The obsessive commitment to materials, fit, and function extends to the company’s denim and clothing lines as well.

A legendary product deserves a legendary name.

by Jed Blackwell

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