Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Best in U.S.-made: Houston Rodeo wear

Every March, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is known for its cook-off and other local delicacies, rodeo activities, musical guests and its marketplace.

The exhibit hall at Reliant Park is huge. You can find just about anything in there, especially Western clothing. There are at least three must-sees at the Houston Rodeo exhibit hall, all of whom have custom-made capabilities:

-- M.L. Leddy's: John Ripps, a former Neiman's employee with at least 30 years of experience in menswear, knows how to put together a stylish Western look at the Fort Worth-based maker of fine apparel, boots and saddles. Oxxford is a major player in his inventory. I tried on an Oxxford silk-cashmere tan blazer that fit like a glove, one of his best jackets. The $3,640 tag represents the high end, not to mention made-to-measure options. For that kind of money, it's considered an investment in the best.

-- Shorty's Caboy Hattery: Here's a hatter who can make a 100x fur felt hat for under $1,000. Lavonna "Shorty" Kroger ain't so short in stature; if anything, she's long on experience. Shorty's range of hats reflect what customers want and how they want it. Shorty is a regular at the Rodeo, coming to Houston from Oklahoma City.

-- Old Frontier Clothing Co.: Larry Bitterman makes it his business to outfit Hollywood with his authentic Western styles reminiscent of what you might see in the HBO drama "Deadwood" or the older films that may include John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. Bitterman has an eye for detail and can cut a jacket for you at a reasonable price ($285 and up, depending on availability of fabric) using natural fabrics.

The Houston Rodeo continues through March 21 at Reliant Park in Houston.

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