Lifestyle

Beyoncé has a Western-inspired clothing line that’s stirring mixed feelings

markie hageman

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In August, superstar musical artist Beyoncé launched a clothing line honoring cowboys of color — but it wasn’t without controversy. The Ivy Park Rodeo collection, full of cow print and denim, stirred up mixed feelings when it was first announced, mostly because the celebrity publicly advocates a plant-based diet, which is something not conducive to a cowboy lifestyle. However, some supporters believe this is a chance for agriculture education.

In a partnership with Adidas, Beyoncé curated a collection of rodeo-inspired street wear for all ages and genders; it’s an entire line blending the contemporary trend of athleisure and western-esque ranching staples. Reportedly inspired by the lack of diverse representation of cowboys and cowgirls, this collection came to be after she said she had an “epiphany.”

“After understanding where the word ‘cowboy’ came from, I realized how much of the Black, brown, and Native cowboy stories are missing in American history,” Beyoncé told the Houston Chronicle.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by IVY PARK (@weareivypark)

Her global campaign included commercial spots featuring real-life cowboy and actor, Glynn Thurman, who sported a denim jumpsuit with Adidas’ iconic three stripes down the sides as he rode his sorrel horse around his ranch. In the commercial, Thurman spoke about people of color in the cowboy world.

Thurman is the perfect model for the Ivy Park Rodeo line as he is a well-known rodeo cowboy and is heavily involved in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, an event highlighting Black cowboys and cowgirls in rodeo.

The official new release stated that Ivy Park Rodeo “celebrates the formidable impact of Black men and women on American Western culture. The collection celebrates oft-hidden history of Black pioneers within cowboy and cowgirl culture and their continued influence and impact on the American Rodeo.”

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by IVY PARK (@weareivypark)

The cowboy community had mixed reviews after the launch.

Some felt the line was distasteful and disrespectful to those in the cowboy community, much like the controversy with FFA jackets being bought in thrift stores by people who were never members of the organization.

Additionally, the over-sexualization of protective wear required while riding horses and working livestock feels insulting to others who don’t want to idolize a celebrity whose background in rodeo and the cowboy culture is skeptical.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by IVY PARK (@weareivypark)

Other people are simply afraid this line is just a cover up for her plant-based influence and she is not actually bringing awareness to the cowboy lifestyle but rather taking advantage of the western fashion trend to make sales.

Fans of the line disagree, however. They believe that this line will increase awareness with those who don’t know anything about rodeo and the cowboy way of life. Even if one person reads stories from real-life cowboys and learns more about the culture, it will be worth it, the supporters say. They also feel as though people who enjoy the sport of rodeo enough to “represent” it in casual, everyday wear, shouldn’t be shamed. Our industry is suffering enough that being exclusive and snobby isn’t helping to spread our message.

Of course, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Beyoncé is highlighting Black cowboys and cowgirls through this campaign, as well as other people of color. Her Instagram page for the brand, We Are Ivy Park, proved this by featuring rodeo athletes from across the country leading up to the launch of the clothing line.

Beyoncé is an undoubtedly powerful international figure, and regardless of where people stand on the Ivy Park Rodeo collection controversy she is bringing awareness to the diverse culture of cowboys and cowgirls all while raising awareness of ranching, and people of color — two things our industry is in desperate need of.

 

Markie Hageman lives in California and is an agribusiness graduate from Fort Hays State University. She is the Communications Coordinator for California Rangeland Trust and is an avid agriculture advocate. Her AGDAILY articles can be found here.

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