Boot Barn’s Wonderwest Offers New Take on Western Women’s Wear – Sourcing Journal

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Boot Barn artistic director Isha Nicole is hoping the 45-year-old franchise that caters to cowboys and ranchers can leapfrog on the Western style pattern and convey the life-style totally into the mainstream.

A veteran SoCal stylist, Nicole was a later-in-life convert to the country-Western scene and famous how cowboy boots, fringe, wide-brimmed hats and plenty of leather-based influenced tastemakers outdoors the scene. “I noticed this actually cool fusion of manufacturers, artists, stylists and public figures that had been embracing Western style inside their very own worlds,” she stated.

A stint at Tennessee’s Dan Submit Boot Firm helped Nicole perceive the boot provide chain, which largely depends on world-class artisans in Leon, Mexico. She developed an appreciation not only for the cowboy boot’s distinctive aesthetic, however the craftsmanship that goes into creating its rugged toughness. “You determine this affiliation with a product and the way it encapsulates the American spirit, and it type of turned an habit, and a segue for me,” she stated. “I simply totally dove in after that.”

The 'Burning Bridges' campaign featured diverse models and a blend of fashion and Western flare.

Becoming a member of Boot Barn in 2016, Nicole was instantly tasked with implementing a rebrand that might reinvigorate the prevailing buyer base whereas serving to the chain attain a broader viewers. “Throughout the mainstream market, there was a lot momentum already,” she stated, pointing to the “YeeHaw Agenda,” an embracing of nation fashion fueled by Black artists like Beyonce and Lil Nas X, of “Previous City Highway” fame. Tv hits corresponding to Kevin Costner-led “Yellowstone” have additionally performed a task in bringing the West’s aesthetic to the fore.

However creating a roadmap for the long run has meant abandoning parts of the previous—particularly, an uncomfortable and evident lack of range and illustration all through the Western house. Via a marketing campaign dubbed “Burning Bridges” that launched in July, Nicole sought to reframe Boot Barn’s mission by way of a brand new lens. The style showcase featured new seems to be from its womenswear vertical, Wonderwest, which Nicole established as a house for extra trend-forward styling, on fashions who characterize a real cross-section of the nation’s cities and cities. Dusty roads, pink rock canyons, and wind-swept fields featured in a marketing campaign that centered on prairie clothes, piped button-downs and embroidered vests and jackets layered with belts, bolo ties, holsters and hats, together with boots in tones starting from earthy sepia to Barbie pink.

Nicole joined Boot Barn as creative director in 2016, and was tasked with rebranding the range.

When Nicole first began working within the Western house, she centered on catering to the retailer’s core buyer, who principally was searching for workwear and versatile kinds. However after solidifying the messaging round these product strains, Nicole was intent on revamping the model’s method to ladies’s style. “I had the flexibleness to consider a buyer who isn’t essentially a cowgirl—possibly she’s actually only a mainstream up to date style buyer that loves Western-inspired items,” she stated.

It’s a shopper profile that represents one thing new for Boot Barn, she stated. “It’s been actually enjoyable to carry to carry her to life as a result of she is fantastical and eccentric”—a complete departure from the retailer’s roots. The “fierce, working cowgirl” doesn’t need to see her uniform worn as a dressing up, stated Nicole, who sees room to include references that champion Western styling and motifs. “Nothing about these product selections are sensible—that is enjoyable, it’s style, it’s fantasy,” she added. “I’m not suggesting that she put on a fringe mini skirt and thigh-high cowboy boots to feed the cows—that’s not actuality.”

Whereas Nicole stated Wonderwest was met with skepticism, “increasingly individuals inside the Western world are embracing Western style” in current seasons—and the proof is within the numbers. Boot Barn president and CEO Jim Conroy in Might referred to as fiscal 2022 “among the best, if not one of the best, years I’ve seen in my whole retail profession,” because the retailer reported a file $1.5 billion in gross sales, breaking the billion-dollar mark for the primary time. Every of the 52 weeks of fiscal 2022 noticed gross sales development better than 55 p.c on a two-year foundation, he stated, with ladies’s attire, boots, hats and equipment outperforming all different classes.

Boot Barn's women's assortment drove sales to a record $1.5 billion in fiscal 2022.

“We’ve prolonged our attain to extra clients. We’ve broadened our assortment. We’ve contemporized the model to make it extra accessible to individuals which can be outdoors our core Western buyer,” he stated. The largely brick-and-mortar enterprise has even introduced plans to triple its footprint over the subsequent decade, increasing from 300 shops to 900.

Nicole needs to leverage Wonderwest’s success to go greater. The Burning Bridges marketing campaign teases the autumn Wonderwest assortment, which gives leather-based trench coats, beaded cocktail clothes, denim clothes, fringed shirt-jackets, suede flares, pearl-adorned cowboy boots and embroidered peasant clothes.

Requested why Western styling is on the rise, Nicole pointed to fundamental American values. “Everybody can hook up with the themes of grit, perseverance, tenacity, neighborhood and connection,” she stated. “And if some stitching on a boot sparks some curiosity for somebody residing on the coast of California to look into Western tradition—if that’s the hook that creates some curiosity—that’s phenomenal.”

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