Best of the West 2019: Western Wear Getting Western: Across the West, artisans produce and sell the finest-made Western clothes, tack, hats, boots and jewelry.

Best of the West 2019 Western Wear True West Magazine
In 1886 photographer T.W. Ingersoll photographed a youthful Theodore Roosevelt—who died prematurely a century ago in January 1919—standing with his favorite hunting pony in his best Western clothing and gear when he was a rancher and deputy in the Dakotas.
— Courtesy Library of Congress —

Growing up in Southern California, we had two Western wear stores within a few miles of our home: King’s Western Wear in Van Nuys and Nudie’s Western Wear in North Hollywood. I loved going to both stores knowing that I might be lucky enough to come home sporting a new cowboy hat, boots, jeans, belt or snap shirt. At eight years old, I was ready to go to Arizona for the summer and “get Western.”

Best of the West 2019 Western Wear True West Magazine
Mildred Douglas, a 1988 inductee into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas, is famous for being an East Coast school girl who went West to join the 101 Ranch Wild West show. She became world famous as a trick rider, trick shooter, actress and two-time World Champion Girl Bronc Rider.
— True West Archives —

Although King’s and Nudie’s have long since shuttered their doors, hundreds of artisans and shop owners—on historic Main streets to rural home workshops—are keeping the spirit of the American West alive through their craftsmanship, hard work and dedication to their customers and communities. At True West we consider these men and women our partners in maintaining a bond between our shared past and our present Western history. Their artisanship reflects their passion for Western heritage, and through their work—and your support—they are keeping alive the crafts of boot, hat, spur, tack, jewelry, leather, saddlemaking and forging.

Best of the West 2019 Western Wear True West Magazine
Edward S. Curtis’s 1905 portrait Jicarilla Man, captures a New Mexican Apache man’s spirit and pride in his Western-Indian fashion that blends his finest traditional accessories and cowboy clothes.
— Courtesy Library of Congress —

In our 2019 annual Best of the West we honor and celebrate these artisans—and their dedication to crafting the finest in Western wear and tack. We encourage our True West readers to seek out their shops in person when traveling across the West or frequent their shops online. Your support of these small business owners and craftsmen and craftswomen will keep the spirit and heritage of the West thriving. And, whether or not you wear cowboy hats and boots every day for work, or you are buying a custom hat and boots for the first time, getting Western is just the right way to live.

Best of the West 2019 Western Wear True West Magazine
Two cowgirls at the Bear Tooth Ranch in Nye, Montana, model contrasting turn-of-the-last-century Western fashion: both wear Montana peaked cowboy hats and oversized bandannas, while one models a Victorian-length dress in contrast to her friend’s woolly chaps, fringed leather gloves, gunbelt and six-gun.
— Courtesy, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University —

Best Western Bootmaker

Old Gringo, San Diego, CA

The owners of Old Gringo boots started the company in Chula Vista, California, in 2000 with the goal of producing superior, well-designed boots with the best leather craft possible. Old Gringo is famous for its unique Western, retro, vintage, contemporary, rock star and original equestrian designs.

Readers’ Choice:

Tie: Lucchese Boots, El Paso, TX, Rockbuster Boots, El Paso, TX

Best Western Hatmaker

Catalena Hatters, Bryan, TX

Catalena Hatters has built its international reputation amidst industry professionals and hat connoisseurs as the best custom handmade felt hat maker in the world by making every hat by hand, one at a time. Catalena Hatters is also famous for its felt hat restoration services and deep inventory of the best straw cowboy hats.

Readers’ Choice:

TIE: O’Farrell Western Hats, Santa Fe, NM, Knudsen Hat Co., Golden Gate, CA

Best Western Clothing Maker

Recollections, Hawks, MI

Specialists in Victorian (including Civil War, Old West and pioneer) and Edwardian era designs, Recollections also has a wide variety of styles from the Revolutionary War/Georgian and Regency eras, the Roaring 20s, and 1950s, too. It offers a full selection of hats and other accessories to help the customer complete their fashion goal.

Readers’ Choice:

Miller Ranch, Denver, CO

Best Period Western Clothing Maker

Patricia Wolf, Smithville, TX

For three decades, Patricia Wolf has been a pioneer in the Western lifestyle industry, specializing in apparel, fashion accessories, and home and ranch décor. Women and men who love ranch living, horses, and Western heritage admire Wolf’s Western Americana theme.

Readers’ Choice:

TIE: Recollections, Hawks, MI, Scully Leather, Oxnard, CA

What do you think?

Stuart Rosebrook

As senior editor of True West Magazine, Stuart Rosebrook oversees all editorial covering Old West travel, firearms and books. He has a Ph.D in U.S. History from Arizona State University, and he owns a multimedia communications business, Quo Vadis Communications, based in Iowa City, Iowa.