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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Readers’ Choice: Scully Western Wear