Cowboy Cool: Wrangler Celebrates Heritage Amid Western Revival

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From “Barbie” to Beyoncé, the Wild Wild West has been a hot topic in pop culture.

For Western denim brand Wrangler, the fanfare surrounding the masses chasing after its heritage has been “quite flattering.”

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“Long live cowboys,” Vivian Rivetti, Wrangler’s global vice president of design, said at Fairchild Media Group’s second annual Wear House event at South by Southwest (SXSW) last Saturday.

“Wrangler is a wonderful brand and it’s truly the authenticator of Western wear,” she told a packed audience at the kickoff panel moderated by Rivet’s executive editor Angela Velasquez. “Western is not a trend; it’s a way, just like activewear, ready-to-wear, outdoor—it’s a choice.”

Rivetti argued that Western is all about how it makes the customer feel, harkening back to cowboys and cowgirls. There’s a sense of pride and a sense of confidence in the way they carry themselves,” she said.

“I do think that the ‘trend’ per se, or the Western way, is really about exuding confidence,” Rivetti continued. “And I don’t think there’s anything more attractive than someone who is confident.”

When Wrangler celebrated its 75th anniversary two years ago, it was a chance for the brand to revisit its archives and bring some pieces back to life. That milestone, which spanned a popup shop at Fred Segal to a “Mr. Wrangler” NFT Collection, may have been the catalyst for the Western revival the industry is seeing today.

“When someone wears a Western type of product—whether it be a fringe vest or cowboy boots—it’s an attitude,” Rivetti said.

To celebrate the anniversary, Wrangler took the brand through the decades and created capsules really “standing up and standing behind” the brand to talk about “cowboy cool.”

“Not the literal cowboy, but the spirit of a cowboy: that sense of boldness and courage,” Rivetti said. “We like to say that a cowboy mindset fills a room without saying a word. It’s a sense of humble confidence.”

Those capsules were also a homage to some of the partnerships the Kontoor Brands-owned label has pioneered throughout the years, such as its 1980s collaboration with NASCAR. It also provided a runway for where the brand is going next, like its upcoming collection with Grammy Award-winning country artist Lainey Wilson.

“Taking our heritage and colliding it with today’s technologies and innovations and consumer mindset—that really gave me the confidence as a leader to lean in and ramp up innovation for the brand itself,” Rivetti said.