Cowboy hats and boots are in fashion with Idris Elba’s film about a black Outlaw.
Wild-west style, also known as the ye-haw agenda, exploded onto the scene two years ago. The pop culture juggernaut Lil Nas X’s .Old Town Road was the driving force behind the new trend, which was black, queer, and subversive.
The “black Cowboy” had a real history. One in eight cowboys was African American in the wild west, something that has been lost to the segregated history books. Trump’s administration was gripping America in 2019, deeply divided into red and blue. Yee-haw was a provocative historical correction.
One pandemic later, the ye-haw is back. It is bigger, more bizarre, and has a greater cultural footprint than ever before.
“While the west trend of circa 2019 was all softly Little House on The Prairie vibes,” said Aoife Bryne, an analyst at Edited, a retail intelligence company.
She believes lockdown has emphasized the new era’s ye-haw. “Following a year in austerity, the desire for playfulness has played a key role in the trend’s revival.”
Beyonce’s fourth Ivy Park collaboration is out on the 19th of August with Adidas. It is called “Rodeo” and includes denim chap pants, fringed face covers, and a slashed, cow print skirt.
The uniform of the American West continues to be an iconic symbol of rebellion and outlawry. Julien Calloway (the lead character in Gossip Girl) has been seen wearing white cowboy boots and a shaved hair, while posing provocatively at the fictional high school. She was also dressed in chaps with bolo ties by BTS for the Permission to Dance music videos. According to Digitaloft, worldwide searches for cowboy boots has increased by 54% over the past two years.
Bri Malandro, the original creator of the term ye-haw agenda and who runs an Instagram account that archives African American cowboy histories, believes this new wave is doing new things.
“People are becoming more creative.” Neon Cowboys, the company behind Dua Lipa’s LED stetson, is constantly releasing futuristic cowboy-themed merchandise, which is a delight. Malandro claims she also sees new, athleisure touches in Beyonce’s Rodeo collection. “I saw denim chaps in this trailer with Adidas stripes which is something entirely new. Bullriding is a sport so it’s great to see these worlds collide.”
Beyonce may have been inspired by her Houston-based childhood that was steeped in rodeo culture. But there’s also a political side. Harper’s Bazaar spoke to Beyonce about the collection and why it is important to tell the story the “overlooked black cowboy”. She explained that many of these cowhands were called cowhands in the beginning and had to deal with discrimination.
Malandro points out yeeh-haw’s appeal to the socially conscious generation Z. She says, “The aesthetic is appealing but the fact that it has so much history is what will keep them alive.”
For her, Netflix’s .forthcoming western .The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba and Regina King, which tells the true story of black outlaw cowboy, Nat Love, is an important moment. She says, “Regardless of how many times we discuss these topics in print it has a different effect when it’s presented on film.”
It just puts all of history on the mainstage and makes it nearly impossible to miss.”
Antoinette Messam was the costume designer for this film. She says that it was very stimulating to design a costume for a period not well documented. She says, “There’s so little information about the black cowboys of that era.” “I found this fascinating and thought that costumes could bring them to life.”
She said: “Jeymes Samuel [the filmmaker] wanted to show blacks in the parts he loved growing up, while he was watching westerns. It was a chance to see us in a genre we don’t normally think of when we think about westerns. Cowboys, gunslingers, and property owners. It is important that we know they exist and how they helped. They played an important role in the construction of the American West. They were more than slaves in that time. Black cowboys rode alongside white, Native (American), and Spanish-speaking people.”