As throngs of cowgirls and cowboys descend upon Las Vegas for the 10-day National Finals Rodeo, our desire to pinpoint the perfect outfit to match the aesthetic of the annual event escalates to a fever pitch. After all, who wants to be seen in last year’s boots? Dena Mercera, Zappos’ Western buyer, decodes what rodeo enthusiasts should be wearing now.
What kind of growth have you seen in the Western-wear category?
Footwear has grown about 58 percent in the past three years and accessories about 279 percent. Our customer split is about 75/25 percent women/men.
Why is it so popular right now?
The music festival scene and the ongoing boho trend have been huge contributors. There is a lot of crossover between that style and scene, and Western fashion. Southwest patterns, fringe, turquoise, and ankle boots are all foundations of Western wear, but can be found all over music festivals and on boho inspiration boards. Pop culture also influences this category. In the 1980s, [the film] Urban Cowboy pushed the style to the forefront. Nowadays, the rise in popularity of country music has helped tremendously. Artists like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, etc., are crossing over into mainstream and creating awareness for Western style and flair.
What toe should we be buying?
Those who buy Western for fashion gravitate more toward a snip toe or snub toe versus a Midwestern customer who gravitates toward a broad square toe. We are seeing the trend move toward a classic round toe for men as well.
Ankle boots are on fire. They continue to sell well even as the temperatures dip. For the past few years, fall/winter has been all about the knee-high riding boots. Ankle boots are performing just as strong this year.
Fringe and stud boots represent flare. American flag boots are also on the rise.
Bright colors dominate during the holidays. Our customers love purple boots. We create exclusives just for them with some brands.
ìPendletonî/Southwest-patterned fabrics are being incorporated into footwear. A few brands showcased this in their holiday lines, but I think it is going to continue to grow in 2015.
Ariat, Lucchese and Justin are the top brands for boots. These lines have represented our core items for years and are still selling very strong.