In recent seasons, Western-inspired clothing has seeped into seemingly every corner of menswear. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that Overland, with its stable of rugged sheepskin coats and jackets, is chasing a trend.
In reality, the multi-generational family business is just continuing the work of its founder Jim Leahy, who set off for Taos, New Mexico, in 1973 with a bale of sheepskin, a sewing machine, and the dream of establishing the “Overland Sheepskin Company.”
“My grandparents said, ‘OK, have a nice vacation, we’ll see you in a few weeks,” says Amber Fekete (née Leahy), his niece and presently an executive and head buyer at the company. “A few years later, they all worked for him, and here we are 50 years later.”
Fekete has developed a 12-piece capsule collection for men and women to commemorate that half-century in business, featuring five sheepskin coats and one sheepskin vest for each gender.
Overland Rancher Jacket
Buy Now on Overland: $995
To create it, she consulted past company catalogs—particularly those from the 1970s and ‘80s—for inspiration. The result, for men, includes the Ranger, a zipped vest made from curly South African shearling with contrasting lambskin trim; the Sierra, a classic bomber jacket made from British shearling; the Rancher, a traditional shearling jacket secured by leather toggles and horn buttons; the Wyatt, a Western-yoked merino shearling jacket; the Maverick, a rancher cut from South African shearling with fur-out cut lines at the collar, cuffs, and edges; and finally the Highlander, a long, imposing double-breasted shearling coat with exposed fur at the seam lines and natural horn buttons.
Several appear almost identical to their iterations from decades past. How their modern reinterpretations differ is in fit, which is now more tailored, and the quality of the shearling itself, which Fekete says is now softer and lighter in weight, thanks to modern tanning and manufacturing processes.
Like the shearling that it sources from across the globe, Overland itself has changed with the decades. From its first location in Taos—originally an adobe shack, now a rough-hewn timbered lodge that showcases its apparel and home collections—the Iowa-based business has expanded to 17 stores spread largely across the American West and in mountain towns like Santa Fe, Aspen, Park City, and Telluride.
Its presence at such second home-saturated altitudes has seen Overland coats grace the backs of celebrities including Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, and Lana Del Rey. And at times, Overland’s shearling creations have popped up on-screen, too. Monty Goodson, who serves as a product specialist for Overland and manages its Santa Fe store, recalls outfitting Longmire star Robert Taylor in the label’s McKinley coat. The ¾ length merino shearling coat became an iconic part of the Netflix neo-Western, whose action-filled production ultimately ran through seven of the coats in seven seasons.
“I had customers asking about that all the time,” Goodson tells Robb Report. “That coat became its own character in the series.”
Overland Sierra Bomber Jacket
Buy Now on Overland: $595
The great majority of Overland customers are not TV sheriffs and have in many cases preserved their sheepskin coats to be worn decades later by their descendants. As part of the label’s 50th anniversary celebration, each store will be exhibiting a vintage Overland coat, sourced from resale avenues like eBay and the closets of Leahy family members and friends.
In Fekete’s thinking, the next 50 years are looking good for Overland, too. “I think that people are starting to become more educated about Shearling… starting to understand and appreciate its benefits and warmth,” she says. “It will last for a lifetime—it’s something that can be handed down.”