Valentine’s Day, 2017. The day of Raf Simons’ first Calvin Klein showdown. No one knew quite what to expect, so expecting something, at the very least, was all they could do. It turned out a tribute to all things America was in the cards. Not a riff on Make America Great Again hats or a stars and stripes concoction, but a newfangled vision of the Wild West.

Optimistic sheriff shirts and metal-tipped cowboy boots came first. A blood-stained palette entered the Western lexicon next, flooding the horse-appropriate footwear with a sense of horror. Then Simons moved quickly to the other side. To a post-apocalyptic world that was less heavy on the cowboy front, but still infused with subtle tropes like prairie skirts. Finally, his raison d'être: a literal graduation of his Americana vision. Mortarboard caps mixed with Jaws symbology and a hint of Western fringing.

All of that occurred in the space of 19 months, eventually filtering through to other designers, fast fashion brands, Instagram influencers and the average person. Now it seems everyone—whether they know it or not—is subverting what it means to be American through their wardrobes.

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