The mad hatter

The hat designs of Kaci Riggs combine classic Western style with runway chic.

American Cowboy Picture

Since hiring on with HatCo in 2004 to assist legendary Resistol hat designer Bob Posey, Kaci Riggs, 32, has transformed the once-dormant Charlie 1 Horse brand into an industry juggernaut. Never mind that this Texas cowgirl had never designed a hat before. Today, her cutting-edge designs are worn by celebrities like Kid Rock and Richard Petty and show up on mainstream magazine covers. The flag girls at the NFR wear them, too.

“Charlie 1 Horse is about keeping cowboy cool,” says Riggs, who has a degree in journalism and public relations from Sam Houston State University and spent her college years on a rodeo scholarship (breakaway roping and goat tying). “From cowgirls to rock stars, there’s a hat for everybody who wants to stand out from the crowd.”

Bob Posey had been designing Resistols for more than four decades, literally shaping the cowboy hat industry, and he didn’t quite know what to do with his charge.

“I think at first Bob just shook his head at me,” Riggs laughs. “I was coming up with crazy stuff I got from the mainstream fashion industry. It took two or three years to figure out how to not just design the hats but to manufacture them, too.”

HatCo had purchased the Charlie 1 Horse brand in the 1990s, and Riggs was asked to play with some designs when she had downtime. Her adventurous hats feature everything from brightly colored,
tooled leather and suede to lace, rhinestones, and feathers.

After her success with Charlie 1 Horse, Riggs was promoted to vice president of product development in 2011, overseeing design for Stetson and Resistol. Now designing hats for top competitors and cowboy hat connoisseurs, Riggs’ hats continue to stand out in a sea
of traditional black and white felts.

“Tack, boots, and fashion inspire a lot of what I design,” Riggs said. “But my hats break all the rules. I use wider bands, wild colors, and different crowns.”

She keeps it cowboy, though, and stays true to her Western roots.

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