Men’s Heritage Denim Strikes Fashion Gold With The West is Dead


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Guest Author


Image Credit:

The West is Dead
Will, Kaelen, Crosby

As a girl who regularly cites the struggles from Oregon Trail as metaphors for her own life (apply the tourniquet! this is a real, to caulk or not to caulk the wagon type situation), I immediately fell hard for the hard-working fashion renegade cowboys behind The West Is Dead. And then I checked out the handsome beardies on their site. And by that, maybe I mean the buffalo this brand new heritage denim label is fighting to protect. Maybe.

The West is Dead
The West Is Dead

Founders Kaelen McCrane and Will Cheng met in Northern Montana, doing the kind of things guys do, “Will was living in an abandoned school bus and Kaelen in a modified horse stall when the two of us realized our shared appreciation for denim and a concern for the dying tradition of American craftsmanship.” WHAT?? I think I just peed whiskey.

While stopping by for a chat during WWDMAGIC, the boys explained how the line itself emerged out of road trip across American to find the best features of all denim brands. They then worked to refine those components and develop new fits for traditional workwear, like a slim-fitting barn jacket. The label features all the heritage req’s – triple stitch, wearable washes, cozy knits and subtle branding, including their signature red embroidered label. The clothes, Kaelen says, “are authentic, they are made for you, to last.” A selection of vintage buttons was used on the initial run of shirts and everything is made in Los Angeles.

Style Caster got additional goods on the line and a bit of the back story in this great video:

Project + StyleCaster: THE WEST IS DEAD from Evan Lane on Vimeo.

Making the investment in creating a slice of frontier fashion in the middle of Vegas, The West is Dead earned a juried spot at Project’s Workroom for their 2011 debut, and spurred (kicked?) things off in the right direction by staking a claim (ha!) next to the big guns – their booth was across from Pendleton and a stone’s throw from Levi’s.

The booth itself was impressive and on brand, using old worn doors and nails to hang jeans, coats, chinos and shirts, while military back-packs and a heavy wooden center created a little slice of the old general store. The immersive experience caught the attention of Japanese and Canadian buyers (both of whom have a thing for double denim – go figure), and editors from GQ and Apparel News.

The West Is Dead
The West Is Dead

With a start-up budget, Will and Kaelen are relying on social media and a bit of PR to spread their message, all while making smart, strategic business decisions to establish themselves among the ranks. At Project, they accomplished this, no breaking in required.

The label will be available for purchase online and in select locations in late April. Follow along on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.