Fort Lonesome founder talks chain-stitching, custom Western wear, and their celeb following
We first crushed on Fort Lonesome
when a pic of Bill Murray in an armadillo
western shirt appeared in Vogue. But it was at
Marfa’s annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love— watching a small band of women chain-stitch loopy letters and colorful thunderbirds over the hum of vintage Singer machines—where we fell fully head-over-spurred-heels.
The Austin-based brand has a decidedly ’70s vibe and affinity for Western iconography like feathers, arrows, cacti, and desert roses. But whatever you can dream up, they can stitch. We talked to founder Kathie Sever about how she’s adding a new-school twist to an old-school biz.
You’re known for custom-sticthed jackets and denim, but your scope goes beyond that. What else does your team do?
We make full custom garments. A lot of people think we only chain-stitch on pre-made garments and jackets, but we do a fair amount of ground-up tailoring and made-to-order shirts, dresses, jackets, suits, etc.
What’s the most complicated job you’ve done?
The custom stage-wear we made for [five-piece Brooklyn pop-band] Lucius has been some of the most complicated and interesting stuff we’ve worked on.
Is there a type of guy or gal you envision wearing your pieces?
We love that our clients seem to be just about anyone and everyone. We’ve outfitted everyone from bands to artists to grandmothers for their 50th wedding anniversaries.
If you could create a piece for anyone living or dead, who’d be your dream client?
We get to work with some of our favorites in the entertainment industry, so I’ve gotten to cross a lot of fantasies off my list: Jenny Lewis, Bill Murray, Jimmy Kimmel, Nikki Lane, Margo Price, Richard Linklater, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope… We have fun with every project and feel pretty dang lucky with everything that’s come our way already. Although, I do think Ann Richards would have been a fine Fort Lonesome model.
How did you decide to launch For Lonesome?
After my daughter, Ramona, was born in 2000, I started a children’s clothing line inspired by vintage Western wear. Over the course of five or so years, seasonal garment manufacturing wasn’t really all I’d hope it would be—all management, very little creativity. I started to focus more on custom Western wear for adults, and a few years later, decided it was time to rebrand and move away from the kids’ line. Thus, Fort Lonesome was born in 2013.
How do you describe the brand’s aesthetic?
We’re inspired by the West Texas landscape and the unique quality of its light and energy.
And the name?
It goes back to my time working on a ranch in Montana. “Lonesome” was the word that came to mind when enjoying the spaciousness and vastness. It’s a good thing.
Do you have a motto?
The Details: Get inspired by custom designs on Instagram @ftlonesome, then order your own at ftlonesome.com