LIL NAS X AND COWBOY FASHION

Bandanas, western shirts, denim, leather belts, lots of fringe, cowboy boots and hats; maybe these elements are usually associated with actors from Western movies, but today’s cowboy fashion has nothing to do with all that. Artists like Lil Nas X or Solange have put the figure of the cowboy (or cowgirl) front and centre, as we’ve never seen before, by completely reinventing the concept. 

In just a matter of months, we’ve found ourselves with a mini cowboy revolution in music and fashion. A few summers ago we would see flower crowns in all festivals, but Kelela has decided to change the trend by wearing to Coachella a bedazzled cowboy hat –with Swarovski crystals, of course– echoing this sentiment. But, when and why did all of this start?

Kelela

The most obvious answer has the name of a song called Old town road, a track that has dethroned Despacito as the single that has been the longest amount of time in the number one position, which is quite a feat for an amateur singer like Lil Nas X. And still, it hasn’t been an easy road for him. At the beginning, Billboard vehemently denied that the song was country enough, as it had hip hop influences, as if the mentions to horseback riding, bulls and tractors weren’t enough. And that is exactly how Lil Nas X depicts the figure of the cowboy, with a beat that is closer to trap –or for example by alluding to Gucci– and by turning around the hypermasculine and Caucasian figure of the classic cowboy, managing to reinvent a completely obsolete stereotype. Until now.

Solange

But there are also other clear examples of this subversion that is hitting the nail on the head in 2019. Solange, without going any further, with her latest album When I get home, where she shows us what her childhood in Texas looked like, presenting how the real cowboys she got to meet used to look like, which according to her they had nothing to do with the characters John Wayne used to portray. We also can’t forget the Japanese American singer Mitski with her Be the cowboy album, where she interprets the typical entitled, macho cowboy, this way challenging the stereotypes that are usually associated to Asian women. Artists like Kacey Musgraves and Cardi B have also been instrumental when it comes to cowboy fashion.

Mitski

And talking about fashion, the most interesting example, apart from the most obvious ones coming from Levi’s, Wrangler or Calvin Klein, would be Pyer Moss. Its founder and designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond, who has been scouted by Reebook to lead the newly created division focused on design and new trends, has also been inspired by the new cowboy. Their Fall/Winter 2018 campaign stars the Compton Cowboys, a group of young men who have been able to preserve the cowboy legacy at the same time that they present a new and renovated image. The undoubtedly exquisite collection pays tribute to those African American cowboys that have been forgotten from history. Who would have known that in the year 2019 we’d find ourselves in a new cowboy era?