Western & English Today

Summer 2016

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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SUMMER 2016 Western & English Today 5 LEATHER AND THE AMERICAN WEST By Holly Henderson, Editorial Director W HEN FIRST HIRED AT OUR SISTER PUBLICATION, Cowboys & Indians, I wasn't exactly well-versed in the Western lifestyle. I've always been in some way con- nected to the West — loving to ride and be around horses since I could walk, spending my childhood summers in the mountains of Colorado, and as an adult marrying the son of a Texas cattle rancher and hay farmer. But I grew up a Dallas girl. And when it came to fashion, I looked more to New York and Paris than the American West. So when charged with managing C&I's fashion/ style content, I was amazed by how much I had to learn, and how the Western genre sets itself apart. Now, taking my frst steps into the English arena with W&E, I'm excited to relive that experience of frst immersion, and I look forward to all of the surprises in store. Looking back to my Western beginnings, one of the things that surprised me most, and continues to do so today, was the leather- work. Not just that of the artisan saddles and custom furnishings but also the bags, belts, and boots hand-carved with no lack of detail. Seven years later, I'm still ofen bewildered by the leatherwork that crosses my desk, trying to imagine the time it would take to, say, carve a pair of boots with an ornate foral pattern from top to toe. It's an art form to be cherished. So, to add to this issue's feature of contemporary jewelry and accessory designs that incorporate leatherwork, I want to raise a toast to a company that this year celebrates 30 years in the leather business, and share the new limited edition designs of its Com- memorative Anniversary Collection. The embodiment of artisan leather goods, American West makes its timeless Western luggage and totes entirely by hand from start to fnish, tooling each one strike of the leather at a time. For its anniversary, the label debuted a line of coordinating doctor's bags hand-carved to every corner. Tey remind me of something I'd hope to fnd at a vintage market or the back of my grandfather's closet. Which makes sense when founder Louise de Kok explains the designs pay tribute to American West's origins. "It all started with a hand-tooled leather travel doctor's bag my late husband, Michiel, bought me on a trip to South America 30 years ago." EDITOR'S NOTE

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