Cowboy hat. Big buckle belt. Leather boot with cactus and rose ornament. Fitted jeans with sequin application. Brown jacket with fringes on the sleeves. These pieces are not part of the look of female models in department stores, they are not on the bodies of the most famous style influencers, nor on the catwalks of fashion weeks in Brazil.
However, they are worn by thousands of people in states across the country where agriculture is an essential part of the economy. Virtually ignored by trendsetters in the Southeast, country fashion has its own production and distribution ecosystem, in addition to a constellation of influencers eager to make country looks objects of desire and ostentation.
At the same time, in recent years, the agro style has taken over pop culture – it began to be shown to millions of people in the concerts of the sertanejos Ana Castela and Gusttavo Lima and in the Globo soap operas “Pantanal” and “Terra e Paixão”. At this year’s carnival, revelers jumped to the sound of Ivete Sangalo dressed as a “cowgirl,” in a bright red look.
“Country fashion is very old, but it became popular thanks to Ana Castela. In the past, it was criticized, especially by women. Girls saw it as something very masculine and cheesy”, explains the make-up artist and influencer Ana Júlia Bernardes, from Goiás, who has almost 120,000 followers on Instagram @diariodeumabruta. “But since Ana Castela is so famous, she really broke the taboo.”
Bernardes also highlights social networks as broadcasters of rural fashion. According to her, with the mobile phone it has become easier to know what is worn in the corners of the United States, the country of reference for Brazilians in this style of dress. This is where an essential part of the cowboy wardrobe comes from, also considered a classic of the 20th century, the Wrangler “boot cut” jeans.
Developed in 1947 and virtually unchanged to this day, these pants have slightly wider ankles to allow them to fit over boots. The original model is made entirely of cotton, without the use of spandex, which makes the denim resistant to dents in daily work with cattle or for riding in rodeos. The pants are the official jeans for professional competitions in the United States.
It is in the rodeos that the country style reaches its peak. Lohana Martins, queen of the Expoacre 2023 rodeo, reps her title with an all-green outfit—one of Acre’s flag colors—full of fringe and very, very bright. The crown rests on the hat, and in her ears she wears large earrings. When choosing her costume, with which she parades on horseback, she says she is careful not to be vulgar or carnivalesque.
But the cowboy look isn’t limited to competitions or farms, says costume designer Awa Guimarães, who is responsible for character styling in “Agropeça,” a Teatro da Vertigem show that criticizes agribusiness. According to her, who grew up going to rodeos, the hat, boots and jeans combo is worn by men on a daily basis as well as at parties and weekend rides.
The agroboy’s wardrobe also needs a short-sleeved plaid shirt or an oxford shirt, both styles in a traditional palette. “There is no pastel tone in the country universe. We have solid colors, blue, black, brown which comes from the earth, ocher green which refers to trees and mature nature” , explains stylist Maris Tavares, who takes care of the image of singers and singers of sertanejo, such as Zezé di Camargo and Maiara, of the duet with Maraisa.
“Country clothing is not fragile, it is associated with protection. It has no fragile fabrics, patterns, colors. These are subliminal messages of strength and security”, adds the stylist. For Tavares, the super-masculine look of country boys has become a fetish and fuels the female imagination, especially when worn by singers on stage. She maintains that wearing a hat is not a joke, but an option, which is often linked to a great farm and a good truck.
To compose the costumes, one of the reference stores in the segment is the Texas Center, in Goiânia, which is defined as the Disneyland of agriculture. In e-commerce, the TXC brand is one of the most popular, offering not only agro-fashion, but also a selection of basic pieces and another that leans towards streetwear, with t-shirts and graphic caps with the brand logo. As purchasing power increases, investment begins to include Diesel jeans, La Coste polo shirts and Gucci pieces.
Those outside this universe have a hint of country fashion in the telenovela “Terra e Paixão”, broadcast on Globo. Some of the male characters appear in the fields with dusty and worn clothes, while others, like the one played by Tony Ramos, wear leather, suede and vests, giving the viewer the idea of power.
The soap opera’s costume designer, Paula Carneiro, says she gets a lot of comments asking if Antônio La Selva, Ramos’ character, isn’t hot for wearing heavy fabrics. She says no, since in the series he lives in the air conditioning of his farm administrations.
“We’re creating characters, not real people. It’s not a documentary series, we’re telling a story,” she says, adding that she spent a season researching inside the Mato Grosso do Sul, where the telenovela is located.
Another notable character from the telenovela is Irene – played by Glória Pires – a former prostitute who became the wife of a wealthy landowner. The costume designer says that since she’s no ordinary farmer, one way to showcase her was to think of a costume in colors inspired by wet cleansing wipes, i.e. in muted shades of blue, yellow, pink and lavender.
“My research is not a trend. I think costume is not fashion, it’s personality, it’s putting the clothes on to tell the story.”