The Wild West

A Bellwether Insight

Photo: Madhu Shesharam
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As more and more consumers are looking at nationalist nostalgia influences, we are seeing a big Wild West trend popping up. Think Diplo & Orville Peck sporting cowboy looks, Balmain doing an ‘American Southwest’ collection, and a focus on American-made goods during the last year of the tariff scaries. At least, brands around the world are picking up on the wild west aesthetic. The trend started in 2016 with Raf Simons (surprise) at Calvin Klein, and we’ve seen it evolve into current seasons.

#HashtagTheCowboy

As the security guard at The National Cowboy Museum said: “And these are his boots. Hashtag John Wayne. Thanks, Tim.” While Tim may have blown up the internet recently with his hilarious posts, the cowboy aesthetic has been an influence in fashion for many decades. Recently, we see Levi’s doing #throwbackthursday to cowboys ads of the 1930’s and 50’s and the many (like surprisingly a lot of) musicians in cowboy garb all over our playlists. We are getting some serious Lone Ranger vibez and we say #HashtagTheCowboy 4evs.

Furs & Skins

We are seeing chaps and their references, leather jackets, suede accessories and more all playing into this part of the trend. While leather has come under intense scrutiny due to sustainability concerns, we still expect brands to find innovative ways of producing and using furs and skins.

Tassel & Fringe

We love a dramatic fringe, and these wild west inspired looks are serving us Buffy Sainte-Marie & Stevie Nicks in a time when, some may say, we need it most. Use a range of fabrics for your fringe, both unfinished and finished edges and creative placements to stay ahead of the proverbial wolf-pack.

Denim

Denim is nearly synonymous with classic American style. Doubling up on denim was such a symbolically 90’s into oughts trend, so of course with the return of 90s styling, it lends itself to coupling with this western trend. In other denim news, we are seeing a cleaner look as of late, with more eco-friendly washes and much less distressing. So, let your regular bull wrangling distress the jeans over time.

Prints & Visuals : Mountainsides & Horsies

The print trend here remains largely in sunsets, wild west scenes and horses, both playing on the landscape and creature print trends coming down the runways in recent seasons. Expect this to continue playing out, with creature and animal prints becoming a bigger focus.

Western Styling

There are a range of elements that can tip a (cowboy) hat to the wild west. Everything from western shirts to cowboy boots make this trend. Use simple white t-shirts, cleaner denim, cowboy hats and more to sell the look. The use of traditional Native American motifs are being explored by some brands — but, please, do so with respect.

A look at the data

Overall, we found that people aren’t actually searching for “western clothing,” but rather certain parts of the trend is appearing in searches. No significant data shows that people are searching for things like “horse print shirt” or “sunset print shirt.” Remember though, that brands are still using them, so consumer are being offered them to purchase.

Outside of western states, “cowboy hats” and “cowboy boots” searches aren’t significant. Although the searches for “cowboy boots” have been increasing slightly in the last 12 months; and, are searched for more than “fringe jacket” and “fringe bag.” Again, we see many brands using cowboy inspiration for silhouettes and styling.

For fringe, “fringe jacket” searches are increasing while the searches for “fringe bags” are declining, but still high in China, the UK and the US. The item “fringe crossbody bag” being a declining trend (peaking June & August, 2019 and again in January 2020) and “leather fringe bags” trending now (peaking February 2020). “Fringe jacket” searches are also increasing.

A look at our intuition

This trend has two big parts: Americana and nationalism. We believe Americana will be explored for many seasons, while US consumers question the direction of our nation look back to our past with a sense of nostalgia. While the Wild West is the current iteration, this will probably transform into other themes. For now, fringe will remain higher in womenswear and small pockets of menswear. Cowboy styling will, of course, influence menswear heavily. But, as we see a power-theme return to womenswear we may see some more of these traditionally manly influences.

The nationalism trend will be seen in nearly every part of the market over the next few years, with brands looking into their own country’s history for references on how they came to be.

For more trend alerts, check out our Quick Insights.