From Louis Vuitton to Beyoncé’s Album, Black-Owned Businesses See ‘Cowboy Core’ Boom: Purchases of Western-style boots have grown since “Cowboy Carter” dropped in March.

It started as an April Fools’ Day prank: KIN Apparel, an athleisure brand known for hair-protecting, satin-lined hats and garb, announced via Instagram that its next drop would be satin-lined cowboy hats. But the post resonated deeply. Within 24 hours, hundreds of comments accompanied 1,000 people signing up for the waiting list of a prank product. Founder Philomina Kane saw the rise in “cowboy core” from Louis Vuitton’s fall/winter runway to Beyoncé’s latest album, “Cowboy Carter.” She just did not think the prank would inspire a real-life item aimed at Black consumers.

“We just hadn’t seen ourselves represented that way,” Kane said of Western wear in the mainstream. “It’s usually white people wearing it.”

Soon enough, Kane knew it was time to start sourcing. “I went on Amazon to buy some cowboy hats, just to see the construction. None of them fit my head,” Kane said about her mission to make the line inclusive and Black hair-friendly. “And I was like, ‘OK, if I’m having this problem, then a lot of people are too.’”

Even beyond KIN Apparel, purchases of Western-style boots have grown by more than 20% in the week after “Cowboy Carter” dropped in March, according to Circana, a consumer behavior research firm. Alongside Beyoncé, more Black country artists like Willie Jones, Shaboozey, and Tanner Adell are on the rise, including those catapulted into the spotlight over their collaborations with Queen Bey.

Genia Moses, owner of MCD Boots, is feeling the Beyhive’s buzz, saying sales have taken off like “wildfire” since “Cowboy Carter.” Moses cited a 20% burst of boot sales after “Cowboy Carter,” shipping orders from coast to coast and servicing new clientele outside of her local, southern sphere. Her demographic has also shifted, with female customers catching up with her formerly predominantly male shoppers.

At MCD, nestled in Byram, Mississippi, country isn’t a trend; it’s a lifestyle. What started with Moses selling Western-style boots off her mother’s porch developed into a shared storefront. She turned heads in 2022 when she proclaimed MCD the “first Black woman-owned boot company” in a viral TikTok video.

Moses’ newfound exposure in the wake of “Cowboy Carter” reflects a growing thirst for Black-owned Western wear among Black consumers. “It used to be where people would talk about you for being country; now everybody wants to be country,” Moses said. “We have people that want to support Black-owned because they know we’re deprived of resources and revenue.”

To Moses, building a foundation on good customer service with her clientele, new and old, is everything. An Arizona customer recently reached out saying her boots didn’t fit because of the width of her feet. Instead of demanding a refund, she asked if Moses could find a way to fit her because she wanted her first pair of Western boots to come from MCD. After exchanging measurements and trying two alternative boot styles, they found their match in a round toe pair. In shopping with her, Moses wants customers to know they’re “not just another number.”

Cornell University Africana studies professor Riché Richardson said part of country apparel’s mainstream embrace among Black communities can be traced to Beyoncé’s producing a version of the genre that’s inclusive — and not steeped in Confederate undertones. “Beyoncé gives us a script of country that celebrates its iconicity while not marring it in that symbolism, which is much more alienating for many of the population who associate it with, say, hate rather than heritage,” Richardson said. Instead, she added, Beyoncé is challenging “narrow” narratives of American identity.

Richardson sees “Cowboy Carter” as a reclamation of Black contributions to country music that have remained “invisible” — citing Beyoncé’s inclusion of previously overlooked genre pioneers like Linda Martell. As a Black woman from the Deep South, Moses said country is in her “DNA,” stretching to when enslaved West Africans introduced the banjo to the Americas. With “Cowboy Carter,” Beyoncé is showing people that “country is here to stay.”

“Western is one of those trends that never goes away, but its popularity ebbs and flows,” said Beth Goldstein, footwear and accessories analyst at Circana.

Richardson recalls growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the early ’80s, with the popularity of puffed sleeves, prairie skirts, and designer jeans. A generation prior, her grandparents dressed her young mother in cowboy outfits for Christmas photos. While she’s accustomed to Ivy League academia, she says her voice remains cross-fertilized by her country roots, much like how Beyoncé never strayed from her “Texas femininity” throughout her robust career.

Beyoncé’s most recent “Renaissance” tour was credited with boosting the U.S. economy. As whispers of an upcoming tour intensify, Kane and Moses anticipate the breadth of opportunities that the “Carter” era has in store for their businesses.

Kane burst into laughter after saying she’s “kind of scared” seeing that sign-ups for KIN’s cowboy hat line breached 2,400 signatures — she only has 1,000 hats currently in production. She’s planning a June release for the hats before bringing KIN to Urban Outfitters this winter for a weekslong pop-up — the first time her brand will be available at a major brick-and-mortar outlet. “Beyoncé shows us that anything is possible,” Kane said. “She’s an inspiration but also like a motivator as well.”

As for Moses, Beyoncé’s latest venture inspired her to dream bigger. This September, Moses plans to launch her first-ever MCD-branded boot line. A smile unfolded across her face as she described her plan to expand out of her shared retail space into her own store. “As a Black woman, never limit yourself based on what you see presently because anything is worth time and research,” Moses said. “And when it’s meant to be, it will happen.”

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