Best of the West 2016: Western Wear

Ready to Ride The bespectacled buckaroo models the best gear he owns from his hat to his spurs, including his wild rag, fringed shotgun chaps, leather wrist cuffs and grass rope. – True West archives –
Ready to Ride
The bespectacled buckaroo models the best gear he owns from his hat to his spurs, including his wild rag, fringed shotgun chaps, leather wrist cuffs and grass rope.
– True West Archives –

By the time Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery across North America from 1804 to 1806, the British, French and Spanish had been competing for control of the beaver trade—and the resources of the West—for decades. The beaver hat fashion faded in the ensuing decades, as did the supply of beaver pelts due to overhunting, but European and American hat makers would not be the last group to fill a need and define fashion in Western wear. From Levi Strauss inventing his signature denim jeans during the Gold Rush, to John B. Stetson creating his cowboy hat just after the Civil War (mimicking the style Spanish and Mexican vaqueros had found necessary decades before),  to H.J. “Daddy Joe” Justin making a boot Texas cowboys could count on in the saddle, craftsmen helped define Western style. The hard work defined the need for quality craftsmanship to produce the sturdy clothes, hats and accessories required to get a job done. Today, Western wear is as iconic as it is practical and fashionable. Craftsmen and artisans making cowboy boots, hats, clothes and accessories can be found across the West, from small towns to big cities, and are ready to outfit you the cowboy way.

—Stuart Rosebrook 

Best Western Hat Maker
Catalena Hatters, Bryan, TX

Catalena Hatters has been producing quality custom hats for over 30 years. Sammy and Carolyn Catalena own and operate the family business with their sons, Scott and Travis. Catalena Hatters was the first custom hatter to advertise and sell the Gus hat style made popular by the movie Lonesome Dove.
CatalenaHats.com

Readers’ Choice: Tie: O’Farrell Custom Hats/Knudsen Hat Company

 

Best Western Clothing Maker
Miller Ranch, Denver, CO

In 1918 Philip Miller traveled to the Great American West on the advice of his doctor, and to sell hats for his family’s New York City-based Miller Bros. hat company. Phillip Miller’s temporary stint in Denver evolved into a much greater journey—a lifelong love of the West and the creation of a Western wear business that survives to this day. The items they now bring to the marketplace are based on the traditions and values that made the Miller name a significant part of the history of the American West.
RockyMountainClothing.com

Readers’ Choice: Texas Jack’s

 

Best Western Bootmaker
Rios of Mercedes, Mercedes, TX

Rios of Mercedes boots are made by craftsmen who have lifetimes of experience in the art of bootmaking. Many of them are second- or third-generation bootmakers. Their devotion to this tradition is evident in the attention to detail given throughout the boots. Rios and Anderson Bean boots have a distinctive and comfortable fit.
RiosOfMercedes.com

Readers’ Choice: Lucchese Boots

 

Best Period Western Clothier
Recollections, Hawks, MI

Recollections is a fashion design and manufacturing company located in Hawks, Michigan. The business opened in 1981, concentrating on Victorian era-inspired fashions. Today, Recollections offers more than 1,000 garments and accessories spanning the Victorian era through the 1960s, including styles reflecting the American Old West.
Recollections.biz

Readers’ Choice: Scully Western Wear

Duded Up A cowboy who spent his hard-earned dollar to have his portrait made would wear the finest clothes he owned, such as this Texas cowboy in his fringed and conchoed Western suit. – Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –
Duded Up
A cowboy who spent his hard-earned dollar to have his portrait made would wear the finest clothes he owned, such as this Texas cowboy in his fringed and conchoed Western suit.
– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

 

67 Cowboy Star’s Shotgun Chaps America’s first cowboy star, Buck Taylor (below), wears shotgun chaps, so called because the legs are straight like the barrels of a shotgun. Each leg was cut from a single piece of leather and, due to their snug fit around the leg, shotgun chaps did not flap around the way batwing chaps, cut with wide flares at the bottom, did. Shotgun chaps were in wide use among Texas cowboys by the late 1870s.
Cowboy Star’s Shotgun Chaps
America’s first cowboy star, Buck Taylor, wears shotgun chaps, so called because the legs are straight like the barrels of a shotgun. Each leg was cut from a single piece of leather and, due to their snug fit around the leg, shotgun chaps did not flap around the way batwing chaps, cut with wide flares at the bottom, did. Shotgun chaps were in wide use among Texas cowboys by the late 1870s.
– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

 

Hashknife Cowboys Once the nation’s third largest cattle operation, the Aztec Land & Cattle Company spanned more than two million acres in northern Arizona, between 1884 and 1902. The cowboys were known as the Hashknife Outfit, since the Aztec brand resembled the hook cooks attached to their chuckwagon. The cowhands in front of the company offices in Holbrook include Pete Pemberton (seated on right) and William Swank (seated on left) in his sugarloaf sombrero. – Courtesy Aztec Land & Cattle Co. Mesa, Arizona –
Hashknife Cowboys
Once the nation’s third largest cattle operation, the Aztec Land & Cattle Company spanned more than two million acres in northern Arizona, between 1884 and 1902. The cowboys were known as the Hashknife Outfit, since the Aztec brand resembled the hook cooks attached to their chuckwagon. The cowhands in front of the company offices in Holbrook include Pete Pemberton (seated on right) and William Swank (seated on left) in his sugarloaf sombrero.
– Courtesy Aztec Land & Cattle Co. Mesa, Arizona –

If you want to see all of The 100 Best Historical Photos of the American Cowboy, buy our January 2016 issue here!

Related Posts

  • WW_Lakota-Chief-Black-Bird -by-Fred-Cummins

    John B. Stetson set up shop in 1865 in Philadelphia and began selling his “Boss…

  • 2014-western-wear-truewest-best-of-the-west

    When pioneers headed West, they had to adapt their clothing to the new unchartered environs…

  • Growing up in Southern California, we had two Western wear stores within a few miles…