Why We’re All Going Country

On the rise of the country aesthetic in music, media and pop culture

You might have heard it called “country core” or “cowboy fashion,” but the Western trend is making waves online and IRL.

Gone are the days of the “clean” aesthetic – which, with its city-lights glamour and moneyed polish, is the antithesis of muddy, country style. The cool kids are going country.

While cowboy hats and boots used to be saved for small-town shindigs and the occasional country concert, A-list celebrities from @emrata (Emily Ratajkowski) to Harry Styles are wearing them in casual form, rocking them for street style fits, fashion week, concerts, Instagram photoshoots and horse girl rodeos. The RHOBH fly to Aspen on vacation, the prime-time show Yellowstone is set in Montana, Beyoncé and Lana del Rey just announced that they’re “going country” with their newest albums.

Before we ride off into the sunset on this country plain, let’s back up and examine where the country trend came from when slicked back buns, 90s corporate attire and hypermodernism were all the rage last year (one Vogue article even claimed that we would say goodbye to the “farmhouse aesthetic” in 2023 . . .).

TikTok, Gen Z and country western singers

Our story begins on a country road . . . in a pop song . . . that you probably heard for the first time on TikTok.

In 2019, Lil Nas X released his hit country-pop song “Old Town Road,” which rose to viral acclaim on TikTok. The song seemed tailor made for success on the platform (with its catchy, repetitive verses and short time span), breaking world records and sitting at the top of the charts for 19 consecutive weeks.

TikTok, and the influence of its Gen Z users, are arguably at the heart of the pivot to the country aesthetic.

In an article for The Toronto Star, Alan Cross, music historian and radio host of “The Ongoing History of New Music”, said that “current music is always driven by youth,” noting that younger listeners “don’t put music in a box.”

This sentiment, that the boundaries between genres are blurred in the ears of young listeners, was echoed by Billboard magazine, which published an article highlighting that country music has experienced its greatest growth in the past 30 years as of late. “The borders between genres have fallen,” the article noted, pointing towards Taylor Swift’s origins in country, and her rise to fame as the biggest pop star in the world.

In 2022, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl commercial teasing her new country album aired, and Glamour reported that Google searches for “cowboy hat” rose by 212.5 per cent. From Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” tour to Taylor Swift’s “Era’s” tour, where attendees sported bedazzled cowboy hats and boots alike, the aesthetic transcended celebrity culture, taken into the hands of adoring fans.

The rise of the country aesthetic in fashion

Fast forward to Summer 2023 and the release of the Barbie movie.

The “zeitgeist-y” pull of Ken’s Mojo Dojo cowboy outfit and Barbie’s pink cowgirl costuming was highlighted in a blog post by Hypebae. The blog noted that this pivotal pop-culture moment fed the widespread popularity of the country aesthetic: according to Google Trends, searches for cowboy boots shot up by 77% in 2023.

2023 and 2024’s Fashion Week seasons have been hotspots for country-aesthetic looks on and off the runway. While it doesn’t quite work like Miranda Priestly’s iconic Devil Wears Prada monologue about trends trickling down from high fashion looks to department store discount bins (sorry, Andy’s lumpy blue cerulean sweater), there are clear lines that connect the resurgence of country music to the country-core fashion aesthetic.

Iconic fashion houses featured Western looks in their latest lines, from Chanel and Louis Vouitton to Alexander McQueen and Balmain. Retailers in the US and UK brought in 240 per cent more styles of key country pieces (denim shirts, cowboy boots) in 2023 than 2022, Business of Fashion reported.

“Cool country aesthetics”

There’s an aspirational element to the Western aesthetic that you start to notice if you spend enough time scrolling on Instagram (who needs to know their screen time, anyway?!).

It-girls like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, who grew up riding horses, have come back to their roots with riding competitions and Texan boyfriends. Their version of “country chic” is different from the small-town, beat-up denim jeans look that can be seen in rural areas – in curated carousel posts, they stand, glossy and beautiful, next to expensive looking horses, sporting high-end cowgirl looks and perfect smiles.

I (a person, not ChatGPT, wrote this blog!) couldn’t help but wonder if this version of the Western aesthetic, ie, country looks skewed towards curating an aesthetic internet presence, speaks more to trend cycling than a genuine enthusiasm for the country aesthetic. Cottage-core, clean-girl, the list of trends to grace our social media feeds over the past year goes on and on. In spite of the more tangible shifts taking place in the music and fashion industries, how prevalent is the rise of the country aesthetic on a day to day basis in the “real world”? Is it, like the clean girl aesthetic before it, just another online iteration of kitchsy consumerism?

Perhaps trends, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder (or Bey-holder).

Regardless of whether or not you’ll be enrolling in riding lessons and singing John Denver in the car on your way to work in the morning, it’s time to break out the cowboy boots and get ready to stomp to the beat: Renaissance Act II and Lasso are on the horizon.   


Q: Where did the country trend come from?

A: TLDR: 2019 country music hit “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, and the creative adaptability of TikTok, opened up new revenues for country music to top the charts, merge with pop, and bleed into the culture.

Q: When is the pop/country resurgence taking off?

A: It’s already kicked off! From Beyonce’s recently released Cowboy Carter to Lana del Rey’s upcoming country album (to be released in September 2024), pop has already started to go country – and we’re here for it!

Q: How can I dress more country/Western without it looking like a costume?

A: With a few key touches, like good quality denim jeans or Western-esque cowboy boots, you can turn an ordinary jeans-and-a-white-tee look into a Cowboy Carter fit.

Q: How do I know if the country trend works for my brand?

A: When it comes to trendy content, testing the waters is about having fun and being playful – without being disingenuous to your brand. This is a balancing act, and at ASA, we’re here to help.

Got questions? Contact us!