Leather has always played an important part in the Western lifestyles of cowboys. Leather has been used for many western wear items, including cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Today I wanted to focus a little more on leather chaps and what role they have had in western wear.
Leather chaps have been used for hundreds of years. They have been re-vamped quite a few times, but they have been around one way or another for centuries now. Chaps have constantly been a part of livestock handling equipment and have continued to serve the same functional purpose.
In the nineteenth century leather chaps were mostly stepped into garments, meaning they were attached to a belt that a person stepped in to. Mexican's called these leather protectors Armitas. Armitas were made out of calfskin, deer, or even goats.
Texas cowboys evolved their own style of chaps from the Armitas. They were one of the first to use full leather britches. The only problem with this shotgun style was that they did not have a seat and were often referred to as closed legs.
By the late 1880s chap makers were beginning to evolve again. They started to make leather chaps in pieces. This solved the stiff problem, and later even curved the waistband to fit cowboys better.
Batwing chaps provided wider cuts and better movement for cowboys. Thanks to the nature of Wild West Shows and Rodeos, the need for more movement became apparent. The Batwing chaps were one of the more decorated forms of chaps, with fancy stitching and brighter colors so the rider could be easily recognized during shows.
In the hot summers full length leather chaps were uncomfortable for some cowboys. A new western wear item became popular around the 1940s called Chinks. Cowboys had been cutting off the bottoms of their chaps to get rid of the restrictive nature of the full length chaps, and in the 1940s they finally started producing them that way. Chinks usually only went a few inches past the cowboys knee.
Leather chaps have always played an important part in western wear items for cowboys and ranchers. They have been used for Centuries for helping out with herding, yard work, branding, outdoor feeding and fencing. Chaps are still used in modern day for protection as well, and have continued to evolve to produce even better results.
- A Little History of AA Callister
- In 1952, Arthur A. Callister began trading wool with his father in a little shop on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City, Utah. Noticing how many customers were in need of quality tack to outfit themselves and their horses, AA Callister's Western Wear and Tack was born! Over 50 years and many satisfied customers we are still a family owned tack shop still located on the original site. We are proud to represent the traditions and lifestyles that made the West famous. We are also proud to feature some of the finest tack, clothing, and equipment made. Come live part of the American West today!