Beyoncé’s latest Frontier with their Adidas x IVY Park collection tells the often forgotten story of black cowboys and cowgirls.
The Houston native superstar who donned cowboy boots and fringes for the Houston Rodeo as a kid uses her athleisure brand to honor the black Americans who helped create American cowboy heritage and the western border. With this collection, like many of her works of art, she continues to use her talent to awaken and educate social awareness.
In an exclusive statement to the Houston Chronicle, Beyoncé said, “The Houston Rodeo is a gumbo of family, connectedness, delicious food and eclectic genres of music. I grew up with artists like Selena and Frankie Beverly and Maze and today it’s just as diverse with artists from Kacey Musgraves to Mary J. Blige. I remember the ride where people drove to the Houston Rodeo from all over. “
Her new IVY Park Rodeo collection, which hits stores on August 19 at adidas.com/us/ivypark and in select Adidas stores, includes nearly 60 pieces and includes Houston rappers Tobe Nwigwe and Monaleo, Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles Lawson and the actor and the real cowboy Glynn Turman in the glossy campaign. The collection combines fashion with Western tradition and offers buckles, chaps and a cow print in an unexpected purple-brown mix. There are, among other things, jeans pants and bodies with wide legs, a denim tracksuit and a bucket hat, a canvas hip bag and even a cowboy hat.
“After understanding where the word ‘cowboy’ came from, I realized how much of the black, brown, and Native American cowboy stories is missing from American history,” Beyoncé said. “I’m proud to represent Houston culture, my roots, and all of the people who understand fried snickers and fried turkey legs.”
Nwigwe, who is from Houston and studied fashion merchandising at the University of North Texas, said he was honored to be tapped by the superstar as part of her new collection.
“She’s a fan of what we do and she really wanted us to be a part of what she got in front of her. It was an extremely significant occasion, ”said Nwigwe during an interview at Gatlin’s BBQ. He arrived wearing an IVY Park Rodeo sweatshirt and shorts in an ambient red color that he thought went with “dark chocolate” skin tones like his. The rapper will make his movie debut in Transformers: Rise of the Beast next summer and is also part of the Emmy-nominated team for Outstanding Commercial for You Love Me for Beats by Dre. He narrates the two-minute commercial that was released late last year.
Although Nwigwe said he learned little about black cowboys and cowgirls in school, he remembers seeing black men on horses roaming the streets in Fifth Ward.
“I’ve never really seen black cowboys in action, except in Fifth Ward. I’ve always wanted to know where they kept the horses, ”he said. “I’ve ridden a horse two or three times, but I’m solid. I’m not Indiana Jones, but I can maneuver. “
Although black cowboys are often absent from popular Western narrative, historians estimate that 1 in 4 cowboys were black in the early 19th century. Being a cowboy was one of the few jobs open to colored men after the Civil War, according to William Loren Katz, an African American history scholar and author of The Black West.
Today her influence can be seen in the rodeo scene and even in Hollywood with films like Netflix’s “Concrete Cowboy” starring Idris Elba. Black cowboys and cowgirls across the country have also joined protests for racial justice.
Paying tribute to black history runs deep in Beyoncé’s family. Her sister Solange Knowles celebrated black cowboys with her 2019 album “When I Get Home” and Jay-Z, who is married to Beyoncé, is producing the upcoming film “The Harder They Fall” with Oscar winner Regina King and Elba. based on real cowboys and historical figures from the American West, including Bill Pickett, Stagecoach Mary, and Cherokee Bill.
Knowles Lawson said rodeo culture was an integral part of her childhood in Galveston.
“When I was little we went to the Huntsville prison rodeos for the Houston rodeo, but as I learned about the West and how it was built, black cowboys are left out of this story. Just seeing them get recognized, knowing how big their role is and how many black cowboys there are, warms my heart, ”said Knowles Lawson, who recruited her friend Turman for the IVY Park Rodeo campaign.
Turman, the Emmy Award-winning actor who recently starred with the late Chadwick Bosman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is an advocate of black rodeo culture and history. He also has a nonprofit that runs a horse riding and outdoor camp for children from inner-city communities on his California ranch.
“I had always offered Beyoncé to use my ranch, but was surprised and flattered that she wanted to include not only my ranch, but me and my beautiful granddaughter Melinda, who has been riding horses since childhood,” said Turman.
“Black cowboys have played such a big role in building the West and the legacy of cowboy history. But like other aspects of building this land, we were not drawn into the story. It is therefore a great pleasure to see that they are finally being honored and appreciated for their contribution to the history of the cowboy. “