In recent years, the cowboy hat has become somewhat of a rare sighting in country music.
Most of country's biggest stars have chosen to hang up their hats and go for a more modern and sleek look. If you walk down the main streets of Nashville, Tenn., the only cowboy hats you'll see are those waiting to be purchased by tourists inside gift shops.
Stetson, which used to be known as the largest cowboy hat maker in the world, has been feeling the pain of changing fashion tastes in recent years. Now, Izumi Kajimoto, Stetson's CEO, is trying a different approach to keep the company's business and the cowboy spirit alive.
Kajimoto is targeting the young "hipster" crowd with the hopes of bringing Stetson back into style.
In August, the brand's team set up a booth at a music festival headlined by folk-rockers Mumford & Sons. Inside the tent, festival-goers could try on a selection of newly-designed hats that would fit right into their thrift store-filled closets.
While the classic cowboy hat is still a big part of Stetson's market, they've created new lines of hats that are trendier and more fashion-forward.
With Americana music hitting its stride, there has been a resurgence of interest in a new type of classic country attire. Bolo ties and high-wasted and Wrangler jeans have become coveted items for many who are too young to remember when the clothing was originally in style. Kajimoto hopes to target this growing market by tweaking their design and marketing methods to fit into the hipster culture.
Stetson is also sending free hats to many up-and-coming Americana, country and folk acts as a way of earning promotion. According to Bloomberg, the company is also providing an endless free supply of hats to distinguished artists including Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson and Brad Paisley, as long as they wear the hats regularly.
This new move by Stetson seems like a slam dunk for the company that's trying to make cowboy hats cool enough to wear anywhere, from down on the farm to downtown.
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