The 5 coolest ways to get your fashion fix at the Calgary Stampede

Photography by Samir Hussein/WireImage
Photography by Samir Hussein/WireImage

While some may associate the Calgary Stampede with rodeos and fried delicacies, “the greatest outdoor show on earth” is also a great showcase for the city’s best local design talent. And as the West continues to inspire everything from pop culture (ahem, Nashville) to designers like Isabel Marant and Ralph Lauren, what better time for a Canadian-bred “yeehaw!”

Calgary-based designer Paul Hardy is easily Stampede’s golden boy. Over the years, Hardy has worked on several collaborations for the rodeo: his “tweet dress” was made using design suggestions from twitter users, he later created a one-of-a-kind Smithbilt Hat for the white hat’s 50th anniversary, and last year he was contracted to create and refresh merchandise for the Stampede.

This year, his western/urban collection includes several rodeo-ready pieces, and the fringe shawl is perfect for the changeable Calgary weather. Additionally, he’s started a new offshoot line called Lamb.S Laughter, with a focus on scarves and shearlings. His just-launched, first-run scarf line uses original prints with a focus on animals and designed with a sense of humour (read: headless sheep and carcasses).

Continuing on the animal theme, Hardy will be curating his first exhibition at Glenbow Museum, examining human’s relationship with animals, and how that’s influenced art, fashion, design and culture.

Photography by Samir Hussein/WireImage

Since 1919, Smithbilt has been producing hats in Canada, making the move from dress hats (such as fedoras) to western-style in 1926. In 1950, the mayor of Calgary initiated the tradition of “white-hatting,” a symbol of hospitality and friendship, similar to giving officials a key to the city. Dignitaries to country music stars, such as the Dali Lama and Dolly Parton, have been bestowed with this honour. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, put the hat on the map during her stopover in Calgary.

This year, Smithbit worked with Holt Renfrew, who commissioned several artists to custom design, a small run of their hats with proceeds going to several charities.

Justine Stabner is a local, fifth-generation Calgarian and designer who honed her sartorial skills sewing wedding dresses. She is one of the official designers for the Stampede royalty that means she makes countless custom-designed outfits for the Stampede’s queen, two princesses, and the newly anointed Indian princess.

As a kickoff to Stampede, Stabner just announced that she is designing a women’s clothing line for Smithbilt Hats that is now available in their store. Her signature wrap skirt using vintage or new Pendleton blankets, trimmed with hand-cut leather fringe is a definite showstopper.

From movie stars to RCMP officers, Alberta Boot Company has put cowboy boots on Jake and Heath when Alberta subbed in for Montana on Brokeback Mountain, and they make the riding boots for all the male and female Mounties.

Designed and manufactured in Canada for 37 years, the on-site factory sits behind the store. They specialize in handmade, original products, so if you’re heading to the rodeo, pop in the back and customize your own western boot by choosing the leather, length, stitching and heel.

Making its debut this year on the Stampede’s grounds is Etsy’s Marketplace, a pop-up shop housing fashion pieces and accessories. Look for local, one-of-a-kind pieces such as Raw Boho’s handmade leather cuffs, bracelets with turquoise stones and fringe necklaces.