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CMA Awards Bring Western Fashion Back to its Roots

Long a fixture of the country music scene, Western fashion saw its influence expand into the cultural mainstream this year as pop artists like Beyoncé and Dua Lipa embraced the boot– and denim-filled niche.

Last week’s CMA Awards, however, brought the trend back to its roots as the annual celebration of country music gave the genre’s hottest stars a venue to show up and show out.

Though far from ubiquitous, cowboy boots saw their fair share of endorsements, including from singer/songwriters Hardy, Luke Bryan and Drew Parker. According to product intelligence company Trendalytics, searches for cowboy boots are currently up 39 percent versus last year. More niche searches, such as “knee high western boot,” “white cowboy boots” and “knee high cowboy boots,” have all experienced triple-digit growth. Interest in silver cowboy boots—as seen worn last week by Jimmie Allen, 2021’s New Artist of the Year, and Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town—has climbed 92 percent. Searches for cowgirl boots and women’s cowboy boots are up 76 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Interest in Western belts and cowboy hats, seen here worn by Album of the Year winner Chris Stapleton, has grown over the past year
Interest in Western belts and cowboy hats, seen here worn by Album of the Year winner Chris Stapleton, has grown over the past year. Ed Rode/AP Photo

According to retail analytics platform StyleSage, introduction rates of cowboy and western boots in retailers’ assortments increased from 8 percent in October last year to 15 percent last month. Over that same time frame, sellout rates have jumped from 8 percent to 17 percent—a 24-month peak.

Trendalytics also highlighted the popularity of cowboy hats and Western belts, both of which were seen on Chris Stapleton, the “Starting Over” hitmaker who last week took home Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year. Interest in cowboy hats and men’s cowboy hats, specifically, increased 17 percent and 33 percent, respectively, Trendalytics said. Searches for Western belts, meanwhile, have grown 28 percent year-over-year, while “social buzz” has increased 57 percent.

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Caroline Jones attended the CMA Awards in a sequin fringe dress
Caroline Jones attended the CMA Awards in a sequin fringe dress. Ed Rode/AP Photo

“At the CMAs, country singers embraced Western fashion in varying degrees,” Kristin Breakell, Trendalytics content strategist, said. “Men made a statement with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, and western belts, while women took a more subtle approach to the trend, opting for fringe details and corsetry.”

One of those taking a subtler approach to Western styling was singer/songwriter Caroline Jones, who attended the awards show in a sparkly sequin fringe dress. Searches for fringe dresses grew 112 percent year-over-year, according to Trendalytics. Selloutout rates for fashion with fringe stood at 21 percent last month, up from 16 percent a year earlier, StyleSage said.

At the Nov. 11 CMA Awards, Jennifer Hudson stepped in a corset dress, one of the Western fashion trends popular styles.
Jennifer Hudson styles a corset gown. “At the CMAs, country singers embraced Western fashion in varying degrees,” Kristin Breakell, Trendalytics content strategist, said. “Men made a statement with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, and western belts, while women took a more subtle approach to the trend, opting for fringe details and corsetry.”

Interest in corset dresses—which Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry and Kelsea Ballerini all wore last week—has also soared, with searches up 143 percent. Trendalytics identified corset dresses, lace corsets and leather corsets as “safe bets,” meaning they have been growing for a year and are expected to continue rising over the next 12 months.