Rockies Rebels Partner Website

Finding Art in Western Boots

by Katie Thomas


Cowboy boots have always been prevalent in Montana. They used to be a matter of necessity for many folks, and still are for some. As any local can tell you, plenty of ladies and gents stand in line with us at the grocery store wearing manure-covered boots. However, those who don’t require boots for riding, ranching, or otherwise existing in The Last Best Place can often be found sporting some sort of cowboy boot as well; Western footwear is part of our local culture. As culture is always changing, cowboy boots are worn just as much for fashion these days as they are for function.

That’s where Rockies Rebels comes in. Founded in 2021 by Chiara Zaniboni, Rockies Rebels is a high-end boot company featuring handmade men’s and women’s boots in exotic colors and materials, each pair individually designed by Chiara with elevated craftsmanship in mind. Unable to find the quality and style of boots she herself wanted to wear, Chiara decided to design her own. She found, as she took her boots walking, that people began to stop her on the street and ask where they could get a pair like hers. Thus was born Rockies Rebels, a Montana boot company offering unique and versatile footwear, including mules, ankle boots, and full-length boots – all designed by Chiara herself. With boots like the Limestone Creek, for example, a deep blue full-length boot made of anaconda leather and emblazoned with bright orange butterflies, and the Porcupine Creek, a black and fuchsia mule in python leather, Rockies Rebels has a selection to put Beth Dutton to shame.


Chiara is Italian, and her hailing from the fashion capital of the world is clear. Her taste and style are inspirational, as evidenced by the artistry of her boots. Tooled and stitched by hand in Europe, her boots feature the finest raw materials, selected by Chiara, who pushes quality and oversees every detail. The superior materials allow the boots to withstand the elements, making them what she calls “frontier tough.” The leather expands and contracts with any moisture it may encounter, and it softens and deepens in hue with time.

What sets her product apart from others is Chiara’s thought process when designing the boots, which focuses on how best to mix the coloring with the leather and design. She sees fashion in a special way; she likes to use exotic leather and push the boundaries with her design and coloring.

Chiara also loves to dress the models when doing photo shoots. Her goal is for her boots to not just be worn in the West, but also to bring Western values and culture to urban life. She believes that Western values, culture, and style are in the heart, no matter where you are. In this way her product is intended to push boundaries and disrupt the market norm.

Each pair of boots is named for a local spot where Chiara and her family love to hike, like Drinking Horse and Emerald Lake. “I name my boots these things because I love Bozeman,” Chiara explains. “I have so many favorite hikes. When I was hiking Bangtail years ago, it inspired me to create the boot with that name. My family loves to support Gallatin Valley Land Trust because of our love of Bozeman and the surrounding community; that’s another reason why I give the boots local names.”


The first time we landed in Montana, I said, ‘Oh…this is home!’

–Chiara Zaniboni, Founder, Rockies Rebels

Chiara grew up at the foot of the Dolomites in Treviso, Italy, spending much time in her mother’s elegant home-goods shop, which she likens to an Italian Williams-Sonoma. For as long as she can remember, she was taught about quality, customer service, and aesthetics. “My mom was always stressing quality. ‘Quality first!” she’d say, over and over,” laughs Chiara. She dreamed of growing up to be a cowgirl with a farmhouse and horses and even wrote an essay about it in elementary school. As a teenager, she became a professional ski racer, training in Aspen, Colorado, in the summers, and going on to race for Italy in her twenties. She met her husband Fabio, a Frenchman and an electrical engineer, and joined him in his business travels around the world.


The couple eventually started a family and settled in Florida. In 2012, they opened Zaniboni Lighting, a lighting company, followed by BubblyNet, a lighting controls company, in 2018. Chiara is the CEO of both, which keeps her busy managing staff, developers, manufacturing, and a good deal more. “I was missing the artistic part of me,” Chiara says. “I love being the CEO and working in this business, but I had to find a creative outlet somehow. After people began approaching me about my boots on the street, my husband encouraged me to open my own company. Since my background is in the business and aesthetic industries, it was perfect.”

What about the name? Chiara credits Fabio with coming up with ‘Rockies Rebels.’ He knows her love of the Rocky Mountains, which remind her of the mountains where she grew up back in Italy. “The first time we landed in Montana, I said, ‘Oh…this is home!’” she says (Chiara and her husband have a residence and property between Bozeman and Livingston, and split time between Montana and Florida). Chiara has always considered herself a rebel. “I’m not a normal person,” she says with a laugh. “I never have been, and I’ve been a rebel ever since I was a kid. My poor mom.”

Chiara’s love of design and fashion is what wakes her up in the morning, and it is reflected in her boots. “I’m interested in life, you know? I have a very busy life – I cook a lot, I love to cut firewood with a chainsaw, I have 10 beehives,” she says. “Especially I love to wake up in the morning and feel that passion of art…but on the other side, I love to work with people and to make things happen as a CEO. I love both.” Indeed, Rockies Rebels are some of the most vogue yet whimsical pieces of Western footwear available, and to wear Chiara’s boots is to make a statement. For her, that statement is about fueling her inner rebel, and it can be yours too.