Friday, September 24, 2010

Inventor of the Cowboy Shirt

Jack A. Weil. Photo by Rick Wilking, 2006

Most of the flannel and denim shirts available nowadays have lost their direct link with cowboys and lumberjacks. They are a integrated part of fashion. The more interesting is the history behind some of the detailing on shirts that you can probably find in your own closet. One of these is the snap button. For good reason, snaps were used on western shirts because they released quickly when a shirt got caught on the horn of a angry bull.

The first to implement snaps was Jack A. Weil (1901-2008) also called "Papa Jack". He started Rockmount in 1946. The shirts were tailored slim-fit and featured yokes that seemed to broaden the shoulders of the person wearing the shirt and often featuring "smile pockets". I was amazed when I found out that he was the oldest CEO in the world, until he died at an age of 107 years old. He was famous for refusing to take the production out of the USA.

NY Times has published an article on this wonderful person just after he died. A must read for all fellow fashion historians about the father of western shirts.

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