Before settling in Texas, in 1997, designer (and California native) Kathie Sever worked on a cattle ranch in Montana, where she was taken with the style of the local cowboys. “These rugged, macho guys cared about the crisp, starched edges on their jeans. I loved that dichotomy,” she says. “They would dandy it up a little.” That attitude influences Sever today as she produces Fort Lonesome, her line of custom-embroidered Western wear.
The thing we have to overcome is that people think of Lucchese in a one-dimensional way,” says William Zeitz, the creative director and executive vice president of marketing for the El Paso–based company. “The challenge is to shift perception beyond ‘We just do Western boots’ to ‘We craft beautiful leather goods.’ ”
Sneakerheads—the subculture of rabid fans of limited edition athletic shoes—converged on Houston in November for the H-Town Sneaker Summit. Famous artists/rappers/etc design their own sneakers, released in small batches, and the shoes quickly become collectors items.
Abundant and sturdy, leather has long been associated with the style vocabulary of cattle country: think of all those hand-tooled saddles, chaps, and gun holsters used by cowboys past. Now a new generation of Texas designers is taking the material off the range and giving it a modern spin, applying a low-tech, hands-on approach to produce sophisticated accessories that still bear a hint of rusticity. Of course, one thing will always remain the same: the more worn-in the leather gets, the better it looks.
There’s no article of clothing more American than blue jeans. Initially an inexpensive garment created for factory workers (and soon embraced by cowboys), the “waist overall” is now a universal wardrobe staple that can easily cost two or three hundred bucks.
At the top of the list of things they're not supposed to mess with when people are cautioned with the words "Don't Mess With Texas" is the slogan itself. As Manny Fernandez reports in the New York Times TXDOT, which holds the trademark on the phrase, has filed over 100 cease-and-desist letters since 2000 to companies making unauthorized use of "Don't Mess With Texas."
The history of the phrase—which was coined in 1985 as part of an antilittering campaign—has been well-documented, but TXDOT's determination to protect it ("to prevent 'Don't Mess With Texas' from losing its original antilittering message," according to state officials cited in Fernandez's story) is a bit surprising. The phrase has been widely used in other contexts by people from George W. Bush (who included it in his speech accepting to the Republican Presidential nomination in 2000) to Greg Abbott (who dropped it on Twitter earlier this month to congratulate two Dallas-area teenagers on helping stop a kidnapping), which presumably makes the stated goal of retaining the antilittering message a difficult task. Over at UrbanDictionary.com, a skirmish appears to have been waged surrounding that confusing context.
Of course, "Don't Mess With Texas" isn't the only unofficial state slogan to receive official protection: "Remember The Alamo" has been at the heart of similar legal battles in Texas, and a New York coffee shop ran afoul of "I ♥ NY" earlier this year. Still, just because TXDOT has its finger on the "cease-and-desist" button doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of unsanctioned "Don't Mess With Texas" merchandise running around out there.
The romance novel cited in Fernandez's report may have been required to change its name, but on Amazon, they're still selling it as Don't Mess With Texas.
In addition to George W. Bush and Greg Abbott, no less a Texas icon than Nolan Ryan has claimed the phrase, signing memorabilia with the words "Don't Mess With Texas" proudly beneath his signature.