Feature Image Courtesy of Ashley L. Evans & Ashlevans Entertainment.
When thinking about vintage western fashion, several icons come to mind. Nudie Cohn, Nathan Turk, Manuel Cuevas, the list goes on. Tailors and designers to the stars who through their wearable art pieces, helped create an iconic place for cowboy culture in the world of fashion. Bright colors, shining crystals, and of course cowboy hats, the era of the Rhinestone Cowboy was much more than a passing trend. From Country and Rock n’ Roll music royalty, to film icons, to runways across the world, vintage cowboy style has continued to influence trends and styles from decade to decade.
While full suits adorned with colorful rhinestones are fewer and far between, one designer is honoring the western styles of days gone past all while incorporating the modern flair of today’s fashion world. Jess Hanebutt Snell is bringing the art of Bespoke fashion to the forefront. Through highlighting America’s western heritage, Jess is bringing Vintage Western Soul™ back to fashion through her iconic brand, Rockin’ B Clothing.
If you love vintage western styles, then Rockin’ B Clothing is the brand for you. Colorful, exciting, handcrafted fashion that is “Inspired by the spirt of Cowgirls past and present, stirred by the nomadic sojourns through the great American West, and channeling the soul of Nashville queens and vintage Americana” (Rockin’ B Clothing).
Rockin’ B Clothing was founded in 2007 by Jess Hanebutt Snell during her final year of design school. A graduate of both the Fashion Institute of Technology and Purdue University with degrees in fashion design, Jess is passionate about tailored womenswear and vintage style. In 2014, she was tapped as Creative Director for the historic Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, relaunching the Nudie’s label and designing fabulous bespoke western wear for a variety of celebrities and western aficionados. Jess is now focused solely on Rockin’ B, designing award-winning vintage-inspired, western-styled clothing for private and wholesale clients the world over. Rockin’ B is proudly made in the USA. Jess resides near Denver with her husband Ryan and young daughter Kit. She enjoys painting murals, collecting all things vintage, and is the proud owner of a standard poodle named Fritz.
With first-hand experience in vintage western fashion, there is no one better than Jess to bring the past alive through her handmade, hand-painted, wearable art pieces. With an ever-growing following, you might recognize Rockin’ B Clothing on some of your favorite folks in the spotlight. From Kacey Musgraves to Miss Rodeo America, Rockin’ B Clothing has become a staple in the world of western fashion.
I had the honor of interviewing Jess and getting the behind-the-scenes on Rockin’ B Clothing and the inspiration behind her creations. Check out the exclusive interview below!
What inspired your creation of Rockin’ B Clothing?
“I was in my 3rd year of fashion school at FIT and was doing a lot of work centered around vintage western wear with a punk vibe – I was in the throes of a serious punk/psychobilly obsession back then. My professors were all very encouraging towards my aesthetic, as I was designing a lot of pieces that were a throwback the golden years of 40s and 50s western wear, but with idiosyncratic fabric and imagery that drew from my love of punk culture. To be honest, there was nothing being done like that in 2005, ESPECIALLY at an elite fashion school. I stood out from my peers, and my school encouraged that. I worked on developing a sophisticated version of those early pieces to create Rockin’ B as a brand for my senior year runway collection/thesis. Of course, my work has continued to evolve over the years, and I’m very happy with the direction and growth my own aesthetic has taken over the past 12-13 years.”
What is your process for creating your pieces?
“I always start with sketches, it’s the best way for me to work out my ideas and keep my thoughts organized. I have a bookshelf full of sketchbooks, I never discard old sketches. I’m a conceptual designer – I like to plan out my work on paper in every way possible before executing the final piece with patternmaking and fabric. After sketching, I’ll sometimes pull the final sketch into Photoshop to experiment with colorways, unless I’ve already found a fabric I’d like to use. From there, I plan out my pattern, which I usually draft – though sometimes for more complicated style lines I will drape directly on a dress form to coax out the shape. From there – cutting and sewing, trim and embellishment, finishing. It’s a highly-complicated process, and I give careful attention to my initial sketches and patterns – they are, after all, the foundation of each garment. Nothing will look right if the pattern is not perfected first.”
Do you have any specific fashion icons you draw inspiration from when creating your works?
“I have a long list of favorite designers, some of whom inspire me artistically and others in a business sense. Contemporary: Carla Fernandez of Talles Flora, Jeremy Scott, Lena Hoschek, Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, J. Okuma, Amber Doyle, John Galliano, Iris Van Herpen, Viktor Luna, Valerie Mayan, Rocketbuster. Vintage loves: Claire McCardell, Nudie Cohn, Nathan Turk, Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Thierry Mugler.”
Rockin’ B has been worn by a number of popular country musicians. What was the experience like collaborating with these artists?
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some highly successful people in the music and film industries. Each one of those clients has been exceedingly genuine and gracious – they appreciate the art I create and treat my work with great respect as fellow artists. Respect and professionalism are gold in my business – I do not hesitate to decline work if the client is disrespectful or rude – I don’t put up with ill treatment for any price or level of fame. Typically, I work with the artist and their stylist as a team, though the artists tend to know what they like and what they want – their stylist helps facilitate that for them.”
If you could describe Rockin’ B in five words or less, how would you describe it?
“Vintage Western Soul™ meets Cowpunk”
Why do you believe vintage western fashion is still so important today?
“Vintage western style is the fashion heritage of America when viewed on a global scale. American western wear as we know it was formed from an amalgamation of multiple cultures including Eastern European, American Indian, Northern European, Spanish, Mexican, West African… I personally feel that it’s a significant melting-pot style that reflects the cultural heart of the modern United States – true Americana. Of course, many large fashion houses are currently showing cowboy-inspired lines, which is wonderful – but it never goes out of style does it? Successful lines such as Ralph Lauren have proven that many years over.”
Cowboy Lifestyle Network would like to congratulate and thank Jess Hanebutt Snell and Rockin’ B Clothing for the continued success in keeping Cowboy and Cowgirl style alive and for bringing Vintage Western Soul™ to today’s fashion world! Make sure to check out Rockin’ B Clothing at their Website, Facebook, and Instagram!
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