The Old West inspires menswear and contemporary labels at the Project Tradeshow
A common theme among brands that are showing at the Project trade show in Las Vegas has been classic Americana and the Old West. The look has been extremely popular in menswear for several seasons now (Adam Tschorn also reported on the trend of all things country), especially with the revival and hipsterization of labels like Pendleton and Woolrich Woolen Mills, and it is apparently marching forward into fall, but this time as women’s accessories, unisex knits and denim.
Bright southwestern prints a la Pendleton are extremely popular. L.A-based bag designer Natsuko Hagiwara of the line Me & Arrow is doing a collection of bags and wallets that are made of new and vintage fabrics that have an old wool blanket kind of feel. Most are mixed with worn leather handles and details for an even more authentic Southwestern aesthetic. Pendleton is also hot on the accessories trail with iPad covers in their signature bright, blanket fabrics.
The Old West is coming across the strongest in outerwear. Besides Pendleton’s wide range of jackets -– a light washed denim jacket with a pattern yolk from the men’s fall line was getting an especially good response from buyers –- Junior and Young Contemporary lines such as the Orange County-based BB Dakota and Jack brands tapped heavily into the old West and Southwest prints for their fall coat selection.
An 80-year-old Canadian company called Granted has heavy, hand-knit wool jackets that incorporate Native American details such as images of dream catchers and eagles knit into the back of the jackets.
And a company called The West is Dead, who are just launching their menswear line for fall 2011, has focused its entire brand on preserving the details and aesthetic of the American Wild West. All the garments are designed and made in Los Angeles, but the company’s two creative directors, Will Cheng and Kaelen McCrane, are based in Salt Lake City and San Diego, respectively. A designer in L.A executes the duo’s vision, after they’re done digging for inspiration in piles of vintage wares. They incorporate interesting details from authentic industrial work wear into the jeans, barn jackets and cotton knit shirts.
Even the brand’s cold weather gloves are modeled after work wear -- construction worker style gloves. And every single hang tag contains a buffalo head nickel from between 1918 to 1930. Talk about attention to detail. But it seems to make sense since Cheng and McCrane met while teaching fly fishing in northern Montana and soon bonded over their appreciation for classic American work wear. “I think I belong in a time period from 50, no, 100 years ago.” says Cheng.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photos: (Top) Denim jacket and iPad cover from Pendleton's Fall 2011 line. (Right) Jackets from Jack's Fall 2011 line. (Left) A bag from Me& Arrow. (Bottom) Chinos, button-down shirts and gloves from The West is Dead. Credit: Melissa Magsaysay / Los Angeles Times