How the West Won: Why Cowboy Core Is Everywhere, From Beyonce’s Country Album to the Paris Runways

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Where Beyoncé Knowles goes, many follow.

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With the superstar’s brand new country album already captivating audiences everywhere, fans and the fashion world are catching cowboy fever. Further fueling the interest: the Western wear outfits she’s been wearing to promote the release, including her album cover, where she sports a pair of white Paris Texas boots.

According to e-tail company Boohoo, global Google searches for the term “cowboy hat” skyrocketed by 212.5 percent following Beyoncé’s Verizon commercial during the Super Bowl, which marked the debut of the first two singles from her new “Act II: Cowboy Carter” album. Searches for “cowboy boots” and “bolo tie” also soared by 163 percent and 566 percent.

This certainly isn’t the first time Beyoncé has gone country. The Houston native has regularly infused the Western aesthetic into her red-carpet looks and Ivy Park brand collections — and collaborated over the years on music with country artists like Jennifer Nettles and The Chicks.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: (L-R) Beyoncé and Jay-Z onstage during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z at the Grammy Awards in February 2024 in Los Angeles.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

And Queen Bey isn’t the only one embracing the cowboy core look. A wave of celebrities has been sporting 10-gallons and classic Western boots of late, including Kim Kardashian, Diplo, Post Malone and others. Singer-songwriter Lana del Rey announced last month that she’s also working on a country album. And since she began dating horse trainer Adan Banuelos last fall, supermodel and trend-maker Bella Hadid has become a rodeo regular.

On the runways in New York and Europe, Western wear made frequent appearances in the fall collections from Schiaparelli, Isabel Marant and Louis Vuitton. And Taylor Swift’s go-to bootmaker, Christian Louboutin, also embraced cowboy core in his fall 2024 line.

Christian Louboutin, Christian Louboutin fall 2024 women's collection, Christian Louboutin Loubi Show, Loubi Show
Christian Louboutin fall 2024 women’s collection, presented during Paris Fashion Week.Christian Louboutin

What’s Driving Western

Cowboy boots, hats and denim have been among the top-selling fashion trends for a few years.

In the U.S., Western boots in particular totaled $888.5 million in sales in 2023, up 30 percent from 2019, according to Circana’s consumer tracking data. So what’s behind this surge in popularity?

Isha Nicole, creative director and vice president of marketing for Western retailer Boot Barn, believes it’s a response to the fast-paced, high-tech world we live in now. “As technology, overstimulation and skepticism continue to spike, a yearning for simplicity and purpose will continue to permeate through self-expression,” she explained. “Western fashion is symbolic of the iconic American cowboy’s spirit — channeling untamed freedom, tenacity and rebellion.”

Nicholas Giuntoli, chief executive officer of El Vaquero, which has been making Western-inspired boots in Italy since 1975, believes the appeal stems from both cowboy culture and the functionality of the fashion. “There’s a growing appreciation for timeless quality and craftsmanship, qualities that are at the heart of Western wear,” he said.

El Vaquero Italian made Western boots
El Vaquero Italian made Western boots

For Annamaria Brivio, founder and creative director of the luxury brand Paris Texas, it’s about the inherent versatility of the footwear. “The Western style is ‘trans-seasonal’ and many Western wear items, such as cowboy boots, are ‘wear all day’ styles, which makes them very easy to wear during our busy lives.”

Others cited a post-pandemic demographic shift in the U.S. away from the country’s urban centers to Southern states. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the expansion of the South accounted for 87 percent of the nation’s growth in 2023, as the region added more than 1.4 million residents. Much of the country’s growth since 2020 has been concentrated in Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, while population declines have continued in states such as California, Illinois, New York and Oregon.

“For many people in this country, Western isn’t a fashion trend, it’s a lifestyle. They’re living and dressing for the country life every day,” explained Prasad Reddy, president and CEO of the Texas-based boot company Twisted X Global Brands.

Then, of course, there’s the influence of the small screen. “The biggest thing for us has probably been the TV series ‘Yellowstone,’” said Mike Winningham, Southeast regional sales manager at Justin Brands, the parent company of Justin, Tony Lama, Nocona Boots and Chippewa. “Anytime we have a big TV show or movie — like in the ’80s, it was ‘Urban Cowboy’ — it has a big impact.”

Since “Yellowstone” debuted on CBS in 2018, the drama about a ranching family led by patriarch Kevin Costner has been a ratings hit. Deadline reported that the show’s Season Five premiere racked up an estimated 6.8 million viewers, and it has spawned two successful spin-offs.

Cole Hauser, Frye, Lucky, brand ambassador, authentic brands group, abg, authentic, yellowstone
“Yellowstone” actor Cole Hauser stars in a campaign for The Frye Company. Courtesy of Authentic Brands Group

Western Becomes More Diverse

But what makes the Western fashion trend in 2024 so compelling is that it’s not solely centered in rural markets or even Southern states. In fact, Boot Barn’s Nicole said the retailer is seeing strong demand for cowboy boots in “fashion-forward urban centers where Western-inspired trends have gained popularity, such as New York City and Los Angeles.”

And the previously polarizing look has been increasingly embraced by Black designers, stylists and tastemakers.

Market insiders credit that, in part, to growing appreciation for the diverse history of cowboys

in North America, as well as to increasing diversity within country music and the rodeo and riding communities.

“Going back to the cowboy heritage, something like one out of every four cowboys was Black, but you never saw that in Hollywood. Now you’re seeing it more,” said Ron Owens, vice president and national brand manager of Dingo, produced by Dan Post Boot Co.

For instance, for his fall 2024 men’s collection for Louis Vuitton, Pharrell Williams (like his predecessor Virgil Abloh) drew direct inspiration from those early rough riders, creating Western-inflected pieces that were showcases for high-end craftsmanship.

Louis Vuitton, Paris, Paris fashion week, men, fall 2024, men's, mens shoes
Looks from Pharrell Williams’ fall 2024 men’s collection for Louis Vuitton.AFP via Getty Images

“I felt like when you see cowboys portrayed, you see only a few versions,” Williams told WWD backstage at the show. “You never really get to see what some of the original cowboys really look like. They look like us, they look like me. They look Black, they look Native American.”

Brands have also helped to highlight modern-day Black and urban cowboys, such as Timberland’s campaign in February featuring the Oklahoma Cowboys, a family-run community organization.

A 2021 Red Wing campaign starred horse-trainer Erin Brown (aka “The Concrete Cowgirl”) with members of the Philadelphia Urban Riding Community. And at Twisted X, one of its longtime brand ambassadors is Shad “Money” Mayfield, who became the third Black rodeo world champion when he won tie-down roping in 2020.

Twisted X commercial Shelby Boisjoli Shad Mayfield rodeo ropers
Rodeo stars Shelby Boisjoli and Shad Mayfield star in Twisted X’s classic westerns video series.Courtesy of Twisted X

Those changes mirror an evolution in the country music world as well, noted Owens. “It went from being kind of a redneck venue eight to 10 years ago to now being one of the most inclusive of all music genres,” he said, pointing to the 2019 collaboration between Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus on “Old Town Road” and Tracy Chapman’s recent work with Luke Combs on “Fast Car” (which made history at the 2023 Country Music Association Awards when Chapman became the first Black artist to win Song of the Year). “There’s so much crossover now,” added Owens.

While the country music community is still marked by clashes over cultural and partisan issues (see Maren Morris leaving the genre because of the “toxic parts of it”), more artists of color are getting their share of airtime, including Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton and The War and Treaty.

How Brands Are Responding

The heightened consumer interest in Western wear sparked a major boot trend in the footwear category last year, with everyone from Steve Madden to Prada offering their take on the cowboy style. And core brands in the space have reaped the benefits as well.

“We’ve seen a substantial uptick in demand for our moccasin boots and other Western-inspired products,” said El Vaquero’s Giuntoli. “This surge has allowed us to expand our distribution channels, not just within our traditional markets, but also into new regions where the appreciation for Western aesthetics is growing.”

Twisted X responded by introducing The Reserve Collection, a more elevated, one-of-a-kind boot series featuring luxury leathers and exotics. It launched in January with three men’s styles. Two women’s looks will be added later this year.

At Justin Brands, Winningham said the company has been expanding beyond the traditional square-toe silhouette to offer more pointed cutter-toe and snip-toe versions, as well as rounded-toe boots, which he said appeal to younger men. “All the fraternity kids, they like wearing their granddad’s clothes. When you go to the rodeo, you see them walking in roughout boots or even an old Frye look,” he said.

For Dingo, it also has the Gen Z consumer in mind. “We’re more fashion than we are truly Western because we have all the comfort features in our boots,” said Owens. “Young women are embracing the trend, but I don’t think it’s realistic to ask most women 35 and younger, who grew up in sneakers and flip-flops, to wear those hard boots, so we make sure that we incorporate a real fashion-comfort aspect.”

Dingo Western women's cowboy boots
Dingo boots are made with comfort elements to appeal to Gen Z.Courtesy of Dingo

The Outlook for 2024

Toward the end of 2023, some retailers reported a cooling of the Western trend. Circana noted that boot sales in the U.S. dipped 8 percent last year. And in its fiscal third quarter, Boot Barn reported slower-than-expected growth, prompting the company to adjust down its revenue outlook for the full year.

But then came Beyoncé and a fresh tidal wave of Western fans, which has altered the landscape for fashion in the coming year.

“Witnessing influential figures like Beyoncé embracing country music and Pharrell exploring cowboy-inspired themes with Louis Vuitton solidifies my belief that the Western wear trend is not just a fleeting moment in fashion but a movement that is here to stay and evolve,” said Giuntoli.

He believes the aesthetic will continue to evolve: “We will likely see an increase in the fusion of Western elements with streetwear, high fashion and international styles, reflecting the globalized world we live in.”

Boot Barn’s Nicole also expects a blending of influences. “[As more] fashion and pop culture contributors lean more heavily into their Western roots, we will see fashion expand to new markets, introducing more and more eyes to the world of the West while shining a light on cowboy culture,” she said.

Boot Barn campaign
Boot Barn is confident that Western fashion is a growing business.Courtesy of Boot Barn

Shop Women’s Cowboy Boots

black cowboy boots with pull tabs
black cowboy boots with pull tabs

Editor’s Choice

Tecovas The Jessie Boots

Buy Now At Tecovas $495

Editor testing and review notes: “I’ve owned my Tecovas boots for over four years now, wearing them multiple times a month with skirts, jeans, and dresses. I was raised in the South so I’m no stranger to a cowboy boot, and I can say with confidence that these are the most durable, well-made boots I’ve owned. The genuine leather felt like butter on the first wear, and they’ve only increased in comfort the more I’ve worn them, stretching a little bit to accommodate my foot shape without losing their structure. The mid-calf shaft height cuts a flattering shape on my legs and I love that the silhouette reads like a black boot with Western detailing — I wear them to work in New York City at least once a week and all the time when I’m visiting family down South. These boots have range!”

brown cowboy boot with heart charms, ankle strap, and brown heel
brown cowboy boot with heart charms, ankle strap, and brown heel

Editor’s Choice

Durango Crush Cowboy Boots

Amazon Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.5/5 stars
Zappos Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

On Sale 21% off

$164.99 Buy Now at Amazon

$185 Buy Now at Zappos

Editor testing and review notes: “Are these not the cutest cowboy boots you’ve ever seen? I’m obsessed with all the thoughtful details (I discover more the longer I look) and love that they feel like a true Western style with a little more personality. I grab for them when I’m looking for a little extra flair in my typical workwear or lazy weekend outfits — whether peeking out of the hem of my favorite baggy jeans or under a long, flowing linen skirt. Because of the narrow point-toe, I recommend opting for a half size up, especially if you have flat feet that lean wide like me. Overall, the low heel makes them so easy for daily wear, and I’m free to strut the city streets without any signs of discomfort from painful rubbing or strain on my heels.”

maroon cowboy boot with brown heel and white stiching
maroon cowboy boot with brown heel and white stiching

Editor’s Choice

Roper Riley Western Boots

Amazon Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.5/5 stars
Zappos Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

On Sale 38% off

$49 Buy Now At Amazon

$66.88 Buy Now at ZAppos

Editor testing and review notes: “Trust me, you’ll be shocked at how high-quality these feel when you first slip them on — so much that you may be tempted to pick up another pair. I love how easy these are to style, as they simply feature classic Western contrast stitching, and opt out of all the bells and whistles. The synthetic leather construction is strong without feeling stiff, and even holds up when I’m caught in the rain. The footbed cushioning is this boot’s star feature, accounting for complete comfort and durability in an affordable, authentic design.”

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