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Object lesson: Tailor made

“Urban Cowboy” style Western shirt features horned frogs and dates to 1970s or 1980s.

Object lesson: Tailor made

A hand-crafted Western shirt emblazoned with horned frogs dates back to the late 1970s to early 1980s and is on display in the Brown-Lupton University Union. (Photo by Carolyn Cruz)

Object lesson: Tailor made

“Urban Cowboy” style Western shirt features horned frogs and dates to 1970s or 1980s.

This hand-crafted Western shirt emblazoned with horned frogs dates back to the late 1970s to early ’80s, when the Texas dance hall scene sparked a nationwide craze, thanks to the film “Urban Cowboy.”

Sally Fortenberry, director of the Center for Merchandising Education and Research and an associate professor in the department of Design, Merchandising and Textiles, says the shirt and matching pants likely belonged to a TCU fan.

“It is not known who wore this outfit,” she says. “It was given to the DEMT Costume Collection when it was found in a nursing home closet.”
The ensemble, on view at the Heritage Center in the Brown-Lupton University Union, is notable because it was designed by Nathan Turk in his Van Nuys, Calif., shop. Turk, an immigrant from Poland, set up shop in 1923 in California and his exquisitely tailored creations became popular with the stars of Hollywood Westerns.

“His designs merge Old Country embroidery and tailoring traditions with North American cowboy style to create an entirely new type of decorative garment,” he says. “The best-dressed cowboys of all, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, gave him huge amounts of business and popularized his designs.  He brought unique artistry and vision to his innovative Western approaches, creating exquisitely made garments that have stood the test of time.”