The Most Famous Cowboy Hat in the World Right Now

Kemo Sabe is certainly not the only western-themed store in Aspen, Colo., but it may be the best known, thanks to the influencer Alix Earle.

While vacationing in Aspen last month, Ms. Earle did some shopping for personalized hats at Kemo Sabe with a few friends. Soon after she stepped outside, she was accosted by a local who seemed skeptical of her new look.

“So we all just made hats at Kemo Sabe, because we’re trying to get into the Aspen western spirit,” Ms. Earle said in a TikTok video recorded moments after her shopping excursion. “And this girl comes up to us and she’s like: ‘I like your Aspen costume.’”

“We got humbled real quick,” Ms. Earle added, drawing out the word “real” to underscore her point.

The video, which has received nearly 4 million views, sparked an online debate about the difference between authenticity and cosplay. Some commenters also discussed the cost of Kemo Sabe’s hats, which range in price from $350 to several thousands of dollars.

Founded in 1990 by Tom and Nancy Yoder, the boutique-meets-bar — which also hawks belts, boots and other western-wear items — has since expanded to six locations, including Vail, Colo., Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Park City, Utah.

In 2020, the Yoders sold the store to Wendy Kunkle, a zoologist from Ohio who had moved to Aspen and worked her way up the Kemo Sabe corporate ladder, and her brother, Bobby. A month later, the pandemic hit the United States.

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