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Pearl Snap Shirt
Photo by Matthew Stacey

How the Pearl Snap Shirt Maintains Its Otherworldly Popularity

Invented by the owner of Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear 76 years ago, the iconic garment is still a beloved wardrobe staple.

On any given day, you might see fifth-generation farmers, hipsters, or—if you’re lucky—the Rolling Stones browsing the racks of Rockmount Ranch Wear. They flock to the LoDo store for a fashion icon: the original pearl snap shirt. Often imitated today, the staple was the brainchild of Denverite Jack A. Weil, who, figuring snaps wouldn’t break off like buttons, added them to the rugged cowboy shirt 76 years ago. Elvis and Marilyn Monroe took to the garment, but it was 1980’s Urban Cowboy that set the uncalloused hands of the masses to snapping, says Steve Weil, Jack’s grandson and Rockmount’s president and chief creative officer. The brand’s popularity hasn’t been bucked since, thanks to its commitment to maintaining core elements (jaunty collars, those gleaming clasps) while evolving with the times (see: the cosmic wonder above). “People are attracted to brands that stay true to themselves,” says Florence Müller, the Denver Art Museum’s textile and fashion curator. Now, with stars like rapper Lil Nas X donning Western wear, Rockmount may be poised for an extra surge of demand—a rush it’s preparing for this fall by debuting new floral and Day of the Dead patterns.

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