Singer LYLE LOVETT always has had an impeccable — and unique — style. Now he’s making it available to the rest of the world.
Lyle Lovett’s latest collaboration has nothing to do with music. The four-time Grammy Award winner, occasional actor, motorcycle enthusiast and avid equestrian has teamed up with Houston-based Hamilton Shirts on a line of Western-style button-downs. Available this month, the shirts come in 23 fabrics that range from a cashmere blend to more traditional poplins and twills, boast a slimmer-than-usual fit and feature carved-horn buttons (instead of the usual metal snaps), as well as three-button cuffs. The overall look is a more sophisticated take on your traditional Western wear and, dare we say, mighty classy. Fans can see the shirts on the man himself when he tours with John Hiatt in October or in November when he receives the Stephen Bruton Award at the Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas.
What occupies this Texan’s time when he’s not on stage?
Horses: “I’m really active in the world of the American quarter horse — I have a breeding operation. I have a barn. One of my horses, Smart and Shiney, has his own Facebook page. He’s a stallion, and you can breed your mare to him.”
Motorcycles: “I’ve been involved with motorcycles my whole life. I ride off-road mainly, and I ride KTMs. I’ve never done the Baja 1000, but from 1995 to 2001, I would go down a couple times a year and ride the course. The ride is pretty reasonable if you go down with people who know the area. The trip I’ve done is with a guy named Chris Haines of Baja Off Road Tours.”
Klein Family Homestead/Land: “My grandfather’s grandfather, Adam Klein, [settled here] in 1849. Through the generations, it’s become smaller, and a lot of it has been sold off, but I’ve been able to hold on to a part of it. I’ve put everything I have into the place to try to keep it going. It’s kind of been my life’s work.”
American Way: What’s your history with the Hamilton brand?
Lyle Lovett: I had heard of them, of course, growing up in Houston, Texas. I bought my shirts at M.L. Leddy’s in Fort Worth — they’re an old saddler — and they brand everything “M.L. Leddy’s” in the store. My salesman was an old Neiman’s retail guy; he’d show me all the fabrics, and I’d order the shirts. And I’d say, “Well, as long as you’re having these made up, can we get them to change this or that?” I asked for so many little things that I think I finally got on his nerves, and he said, “You know, Hamilton’s in Houston makes these for us, so why don’t you just go there.”
AW: You made him crazy and he sent you to the source?
LL: Yes. That was, I don’t know, I think six or seven years ago.
AW: And how did the collaboration come to be?
LL: Oh, just the beginning of this year, I asked David [Hamilton] if anybody else liked the sort of detail I did or if anybody else would use these sort of ideas because I was kind of proud of the shirt we came up with that he was making for me.
AW: So these are shirts Hamilton originally custom-designed for you, albeit slightly redone?
LL: Yes. This really is Hamilton’s dress shirt, and the difference in the detail has to do with little things, like the shape of the yolk — instead of a straight line, it has a bit of a scallop. A single stitch instead of a double stitch. And no snaps. Hamilton doesn’t do snaps. But I can wear this as a dress shirt or with jeans. And that’s really the idea: to have a Western-style shirt that a full-grown man can wear, that is made for a guy my age . There are other versions of Western dress shirts that aren’t costume-y but don’t have the Hamilton quality.
AW: Do those details exist because of a specific functionality that’s required of a Western shirt that might not be required of your standard dress shirt?
LL: One of the most functional parts is the longer cuff — it keeps the blousy part of the shirt out of your way when you’re riding, keeps everything contained. But other than that, it’s just a matter of styling.
AW: Some people might not realize that you have a history of sorts as a fashionista.
LL: I was in a Comme des Garçons runway show in Paris in 1992. In those days, [designer Rei Kawakubo] would use personalities instead of models. Brice Marden was in the show, Peter Weller was in one — it was crazy, but it was cool.
Shirts range from $225 to $265 at Hamilton Shirts; 5700 Richmond Ave., Houston; (713) 780-8222; www.hamiltonshirts.com