They are riding roughshod over the catwalk, lassoing shoppers on the high street and corralling stars of the big screen and music world. Rodeo trends are having a moment, with fringed jackets, stetsons and cowboy boots seemingly everywhere.
Two of the most successful women in pop gave the style their seal of approval this week. Taylor Swift appeared in a fringed denim jacket in images promoting her new single, Me!, while Madonna sported a white cowboy hat on the cover of Medellín, her first single in four years.
This month Wild Rose brought cowboy chic to the big screen, with the tale of a Glaswegian ex-con who pursues her dreams of being a country singer. The film’s rising star, Jessie Buckley, wears check and embroidered shirts, and tucks her electronic ankle tag into a pair of white cowgirl boots.
Cowboy boots – the most accessible of rodeo fashion – have been undergoing a resurgence since last year – and the trend looks set to continue. At Topshop, the rodeo-style Howdie boot has been a bestseller. The boot was initially available in three colours, and sold out in two weeks. Topshop has since launched three new colours to keep up with demand.
“We are definitely seeing an increased interest in western-style boots,” says Cassie Smart, the head of womenswear buying at matchesfashion.com. “They are so versatile and perfect to style with floaty romantic silhouettes in the summer and with denim in the winter.”
On the spring/summer 2019 catwalks, Coach 1941’s collection included a denim dress with leather shoulder detailing, as well as fringed leather waistcoats, and oversized cotton shirts. The fashion house’s creative director, Stuart Vevers, was inspired by a visit to the Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Even Burberry, a bastion of British design, included a cow-print miniskirt with leg stirrups.
“Historically, cowboys would associate themselves with particular colours and details. [These were] micro-trends of their own, so that you could decipher who they were and what their reputation was on sight,” says Susanna Cordner, a senior research fellow at the London College of Fashion. “Maybe this is a particular draw to the trend today – it implies both a pack mentality and individuality.”
At Asos, western fashions are dotted throughout the men’s and women’s collections, while Ganni aims for a prairie-inspired look with ditsy floral midi skirts, shirts with shoulder panel detailing and seven styles of cowboy boot.
This latest incarnation of rodeo dressing has a retro lilt, positioning it as an offshoot of the 70s trend currently dominating fashion. It can also be seen as a progression of “prairie dressing” – the flipside to the ankle-length, ruffle-sleeved dresses that would look perfectly at home on the ranch, which have gained popularity via designers such as Batsheva.
Cordner adds that one of the attractions of the “cowboy” look is that it “could be considered to have a connection to the history of gender-fluid dressing – it gives some striking examples of when, historically, the lines between menswear and womenswear designs became blurred”.
She also believes the “trend brings a cultural history with it, and with that history – appropriately or not – comes associations of adventure, activity and using clothes to stake out an identity”.