Making Her Way

The founder of Texas-based heritage brand 1791 Supply & Co. finds a perfect fit with John Wayne.

Written by Jenn Thornton

Since taking over 1791 Supply & Co. in its infancy, founder and designer Priscilla Barroso has built the workaday menswear brand into a collection of “heirloom staples”—some with WWII military details, others that nod to 1960s-era Scouting uniforms—and launched a heritage collection that continues to rotate through what she calls “the stronghold of American novelty and quality.” And it does so in that other stronghold of Americana, the Lone Star State. “We continue to make and design everything in Texas.”

Just as classic menswear never goes out of style, neither has the vision of the brand, which Priscilla says remains the same. “Stay true to where you came from, remember the laws of the land that keep us safe and inspired to be better, and do better for this country,” she says. It’s that simple. “We are preserving the ‘old ways’ in crafting clothes,” Priscilla continues. “Taking our time to do it right with integrity.” Tailor-made for a guy like John Wayne, right? Priscilla thinks so, too.

The John Wayne brand has a new collaborator in 1791 Supply & Co. “The John Wayne collaboration is a dream come true,” Priscilla says of the partnership. “It is something I could have imagined was possible, but now that it is happening, it’s a bit surreal.” To take the measure of the man and “recreate the past for the future,” Priscilla pulled inspiration from Wayne’s film wardrobe. “The colors alone transpire into a desert sunset landscape,” she says of the Duke-inspired duds. “It is basically the pinnacle of what 1791 could be. John Wayne did it before anyone else.”

John Wayne’s Western Goods: Ethan Wayne wearing “The Ethan” in Flannel with his lab Finn.

With her skill, Priscilla could have taken any avenue but kept coming back to menswear as a tribute to her grandfather—“the most sensible and stylish man I ever met,” she says.  Indeed, her designs have the heritage feel of a handmade era, only freshened and refashioned for today. The other driver behind her work is the “simplicity of old films as well as the hardships of blue-collar America and the uniform that branded it.” The work is timeless, she explains, because it is intentional. “The story behind the brand is to last lifetimes. Creating heirlooms to be passed on is exactly what the brand was built on.”

The story behind the brand is to last lifetimes. Creating heirlooms to be passed on is exactly what the brand was built on.

Priscilla is practical, as she must be—the lady runs a business. But at heart, she’s a creative spirit. “We at 1791 are dreamers” goes the brand motto. This might be interpreted in different ways, by different folks, but to Priscilla, it’s pretty straightforward: “Dreamers never stop dreaming,” she explains. “I feel like the only way to truly enjoy the process is to let go of any standard way to be successful and visualize success on your own terms. A dream made reality, if you will.” And an American Dream, at that.

Made in America is the backbone of 1791 Supply & Co. and of fundamental importance to Priscilla herself. She prides herself on “making things of value” and never thought twice (or at all) about where her work would be produced. “There is no other place I would ever make clothes,” she says. “American-made is all I know.” Soon, a whole bunch of tried-and-true and new-generation John Wayne fans alike will know all about her, too.

To be part of the handcraftsmanship movement gives Priscilla purpose, she says. “Anything I can do to help preserve heritage and less waste will in turn help the community around me. It feels good to do good. Just like John Wayne carved out a path of heritage for us all, I hope to do something meaningful for the Texas fashion industry as well.”

Just like John Wayne carved out a path of heritage for us all, I hope to do something meaningful for the Texas fashion industry as well.