Return of the Cowboy: Denver Western Wear Keeps Fashion Design Authentic
by Marianne Salina
Fashion Career Center Columnist
The East Coast is credited with many things fashionable, housing some of the greatest designers, fashion schools, and well-dressed residents in the country. But when it comes to cowboys, the Western seaboard takes the cake. After the release of acclaimed film "Brokeback Mountain" last year, a craving for down-home, no-fuss Western wear has inspired fashion designers to channel a more rugged sensibility. The result is a swarm of cowboy boots, oversized buckles, and classic snap button shirts similar to those worn so well by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger on the big screen.
But the great fashion irony of it all? The famous western shirts seen in "Brokeback" originate from Denver, Colorado's Rockmount Ranch Wear store, retailer of classic cowboy gear since 1944. Sometimes the best fashion designs are without trendsetting motives.
Classic, Iconic Fashion Designs Make Lasting Impression
After "Brokeback Mountain", fashion designers had a heyday competing for the best vintage-inspired cowboy looks they could muster. Ralph Lauren opened two new stores devoted to RRL--a line with a vintage western feel. Marc Jacobs also chimed in, collaborating with Wrangler to reinvent several classic cowboy designs from the 1940's. But perhaps most successful of all is the inventor of the western shirt himself, Jack Weil, who continues to run Rockmount in Colorado, selling the no-frills look that many find so fitting. Incidentally, two of the Rockmount shirts worn in the film sold on eBay for $101,100.51.
Fashion Design School: Reinventing Old Looks to Fit New Trends
The trick to achieving the simple Western look, or any particular concept in fashion is to avoid over-designing. As designer, your job is to read between the lines. Why is a particular fashion resurfacing? What do people find appealing? Clothing that feels authentic and true to a particular aesthetic are design traits that consumers seek, although they are also qualities that are difficult to define. Fashion design school helps you locate the core values behind a design or trend that need to be upheld--a lesson that will help you ride out the ebb and flow of trends with casual confidence.
About the Author
Marianne Salina has a B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing and enjoys researching and discussing the myriad of fashion design pursuits in her columns.