Western Preview: Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors

Flashback to fashion in 1962 including Nudie Suits, Acme Boot Company, Jack Maddox, Lasso Manufacturing Company, Hyer and Sons, and more!

From time to time, we receive inquiries from readers requesting information on where they might obtain parade outfits. Quite naturally, the answer to this question is prefaced by just how elaborate an outfit one wishes to have and how much time and money one can spend for the desired effect.

Requests this month prompted us to write to Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors in North Hollywood, California. Nudie himself replied with photos, catalogs, and data — and a brief resume of his background. All of which we found very helpful and interesting.

Nudie — the only name he goes by — was born in Brooklyn, the son of a bootmaker who gave him his first sewing lessons. At an early age, however, he filled club boxing dates in California and went on to work in bit parts in silent movies. In 1926, Nudie began whipping up costumes on an individual-order basis with Gloria Swanson as one of his customers.

Elvis Presley and Nudie’s $10,000 outfit.

After several attempts at starting in the tailoring business and going broke, Nudie made the costumes for a new band. Tex Williams was organizing in Los Angeles and from then on — success. Starting his career in a garage with a $150 sewing machine, this cowboy clothier has now expanded to a modern building and inventoried stock of $150,000.

Nudie explains it this way, “I retain my business by keeping in close personal contact with my customers and by tailoring their clothing to suit the styles. During the war, when drape suits were the fad, I came out with a drape cowboy outfit instead of the usual body-fitting one. Now I am making a slender-style, sort of a western Ivy League.”

Nudie has tailored for the big western stars and the movies. He has made $3,500 suits for Rex Allen and $2,500 suits for Dale Evans. But, the most expensive single suit was one of 24-karat gold lamé with rhinestones made for Elvis Presley at a cool $10,000.

Nudie’s fame has recently been recognized with hat and boot stories in TV Guide. Both articles, illustrated in color, show fabulous designs – from a gold kid hat trimmed with rhinestones to boots with real gold and sterling silver. Most of Nudie’s business consists of a personal contact with each customer, discussing the kind of clothes he wants and then making them for him.

A big catalog from Nudie’s contains dozens of his distinctive designs. Many of the parade outfits have a matching serape with embroidered themes ranging from orchids, music, strawberries and shamrocks to Indians and western motifs. Often boots are designed to harmonize with the particular outfits. And, Nudie makes lavish use of gold and silver kid as well as rhinestones in many of his ensembles for men as well as women.

Acme Jodphurs

New from Acme Boot Company, Clarksville, Tenn., is the jodhpur with a one-piece seamless back. It has a full-crimped vamp, tailored combination last, and is available in black and brown in both men and ladies sizes. These Acme jodhpurs are made in mellow grain leather, fully leather lined, with genuine Oak Bend soles.

Acme officials say there has been an increased demand for these smart-looking, close-fitting, self-adjustable jodhpurs. They have the comfort and ease-of-wear of boots, with the classic lines and smart appearance of dress footwear.

Acme is also proud of its Fastow Toe on the Wellington boot which they label a “revolution in Wellington styling. Perhaps you’ve seen this toe which gives the popular Wellington a dressed-up, fashionable look in footwear.

Flashback to fashion in 1962 including Elvis' Nudie Suit, Acme Boot Company, Jack Maddox, Lasso Manufacturing, Hyer and Sons, and more!
Typical American cowboy Jack Maddox.

A group of Americans visited Europe in October to promote travel in America by Europeans. Representing the United States as the typical “American Cowboy” was Jack Maddox, ranch foreman of the Pritchard-Ray Cattle Company of near Paris, Texas.

Included in the attire Maddox took with him on the tour were such Texas-made products as Nocona Boots, Lasso Western Wear, Lee Jeans, and others. Maddox was an All- America basketball player when he attended West Texas State.

The European tour was made under the sponsorship of Pan-American Airways and Greyhound Bus Company.

“Washable, wearable, and wonderful” — that’s the description Lasso Manufacturing Company gives to its 1962 spring coordinated shirt and pants called the Trotter. The shirts are fashioned of cotton satins and woven ginghams and are designed with divided front and back yokes. The trim pants continue the divided yoke theme at either side of the waist, and are half and half -arnel and avron – in a faille weave. Trotter colors are violet, aqua, orange, black, pink, and gold.

Flashback to fashion in 1962 including Elvis' Nudie Suit, Acme Boot Company, Jack Maddox, Lasso Manufacturing, Hyer and Sons, and more!
Lasso’s Side-Saddle matched yoke pants and shirt.

Another coordinated set with the Lasso label is the Side Saddle. The fine-fitting, beautifully tailored pants carry a detailed yoke for side, back, and front interest. An embroidered arrow at the knee starts a spring-like flare — a kick pleat. You’ll think the fabric is raw silk, but it is pure cotton – luxurious, easy-to-care-for, and moderately priced. The Side Saddle shirt, floral design, matches the solid-color pants yoke at the shoulder, front, and back. Colors are black, gold, lime, blue, and white.

Flashback to fashion in 1962 including Elvis' Nudie Suit, Acme Boot Company, Jack Maddox, Lasso Manufacturing, Hyer and Sons, and more!
The Ranchero wool jacket by Levi Strauss.

C.W. Hyer and Sons, Inc., Olathe, Kan., has named Cliff Berens their west coast sales representative. He will cover Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and northern California as far south as the bay area. Berens takes over the territory from Chuck Brunk, who was recently named Hyer Field sales manager. Brunk will continue to serve as sales representative for lower California and Nevada.

From the California firm of Levi Strauss & Company comes a new western-style coat branded the Ranchero. It comes in a broad variety of solid colors, muted colors, and hombre checkerboard plaids, tailored from high grade wool-cashmere-nylon material. Double arcuate yokes decorate the front, and a two-point yoke highlights the back. The flap-covered side pockets have a special slash construction which enables them to serve as warm-up pockets. The jacket is fully lined.

Flashback to fashion in 1962 including Elvis' Nudie Suit, Acme Boot Company, Jack Maddox, Lasso Manufacturing, Hyer and Sons, and more!
Western pants by Karman.

Washability is most important these days — and now Karman, Inc, of Denver has designed ladies western pants with a tailored look and fit in washable sheen gabardine, 70% rayon and 30% acetate. Keystone belt loops, square point pocket flaps, and pearlized snaps are added features. Modest ly priced, the pants come in 15 fashion colors.

John Justin, president-general manager of the Justin Companies, makers of Justin boots and leather goods, announced the recent appointment of B.F. Whisenant as general sales manager. The appointment is in line with company policy of promoting personnel up through the departments. During the past five years, Whisenant has served as customer service manager and assistant general sales manager. The new appointee is active in Fort Worth civic and service organizations.

This article was originally published in the February 1962 issue of Western Horseman.

1 thought on “Western Preview: Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors”

  1. I lived in North Hollywood right near Nudie’s. I would visit the store and being young, I wished I could afford many of the items he produced!


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