LUBBOCK, Texas — Whenever you think of Texas, one of the first things that comes to mind is likely to be Western fashion, such as cowboy hats, belt buckles and bolo ties.
EverythingLubbock.com spoke to Dr. Monte L. Monroe, the Texas State Historian and a Southwest Collection Archivist at Texas Tech University about the origins of Western fashion in Texas.
“What we call modern Western wear today had its origin in the clothes worn by the cowboy culture and cowboys in the American West, in our case, particularly Texas during the 19th century,” Dr. Monroe said.
It was further popularized by the early cowboy movies, and later in the mid-1940s and 1950s by people like John Wayne and others. The ranching industry then came into its own in areas like King’s Ranch and the Llano Estacado where the origins of the open-range cattle culture began, according to Dr. Monroe.
Dr. Monroe then spoke of the origins of the cowboy hat.
“People like JB Stetson made famous the so-called Boss of the Plains Hat in the mid-1860s. It became very popular in the West among people and cowboys. Each ranch could almost be identified by the type of creases put in the hat,” Dr. Monroe said.
At first, belt buckles were only worn by people in the rodeo. Women popularized the buckle by adding jewels, according to Dr. Monroe.
How about cowboy boots?
“Boots originally started out just being made of cow leather. Cowboys wore these things all the way up the cattle trails. The earlier 19th century boots had antecedents with the British military boots going back into the 1700s and 1600s,” Dr. Monroe said.
After the American Civil War, there was a huge market for beef, and Texas decided to enter the market due to the large amounts of feral cattle in the state. As a result of this, cowboys needed the gear to cross the Texas terrain to the markets, according to Dr. Monroe.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the love of Western fashion.
“[It’s] very, very popular in Texas,” Karl Meyer, a store manager at Boot Barn in Lubbock, explained. “It goes well with all of the concerts, that are going on around here.”
Meyer told EverythingLubbock.com the industry of Western fashion is growing.
“Country music is mainstream now. Western wear is a culture — it is culture driven. We get someone in the age of 80 to kids in our store.” Meyer said.
“By the time the movies came along in the early 1900s, they were glamorizing this era that was rapidly disappearing,” Dr. Monroe said. “And these actors started to glamorize that.”
Dr. Monroe spoke of how the industry is continuing to grow and has become popularized recently.
“Examples in the movies from Clint Eastwood to John Wayne popularized these things. In more recent times, Taylor Sheridan is bringing back Western culture with Yellowstone and other TV series,” Dr. Monroe said.
According to Texas House Concurrent Resolution 12, the heritage of the Lone Star State is closely associated with images of cowboys and the western frontier.
The same resolution said the bolo tie gets its name from the boleadora — “a lariat with weights at the end that was used by South American cowboys to ensnare cattle.”
In 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed the resolution, designating the bolo tie (sometimes called the bola tie) as the official State Tie of Texas.