GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro-based clothing manufacturer Wrangler is responding to boycott threats and backlash to its new partnership with rapper Lil Nas X, which critics on social media claim is abandoning the brand's country music and cowboy-style roots.
Wrangler is known for its iconic jeans, which are highlighted in art outside its headquarters on Elm Street in Downtown Greensboro. And this week, Wrangler announced a new clothing collection this week with Lil Nas X that includes jeans and shirts.
20-year-old Lil Nas X rose to fame after his country-infused rap single "Old Town Road" went viral online and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in March. It was then removed from the country music genre by Billboard because it did "not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version," Billboard told Rolling Stone in March.
The clothing collaboration between Wrangler and Lil Nas X was inspired by Old Town Road, according to a description of the collection on the company's website.
"This limited release collection offers fresh remixes of classic Wrangler styles for the kind of modern cowboy that can’t be put in a box," the tagline states.
Now, some people on social media are criticizing Wrangler's new clothing collection with the rapper, while others are praising the partnership. The company replied to multiple different users, defending the new clothing.
"I just think its a disgrace to Wranglers and country music," one user commented on Wrangler's Instagram announcement.
"Won't be buying anymore @Wrangler jeans. I thought this was a jean for the western lifestyle. Not a sellout to a no name rapper," another person said on Twitter.
Wrangler replied, "Thanks for your feedback, Ty. As an iconic brand in fashion, we have shown up in music, film and popular culture for decades. Our western heritage and offering a quality and versatile product for all wearers will always be the very heart of our brand."
"I’m sorry but legit cowboys don’t wear these @wrangler keep em original," another person said on Instagram.
Wrangler said on Instagram: "Music has always been an integral part of our brand DNA. We have no intention to stop creating the amazing products our dedicated country music fans have been buying for years."
Some have commented that they will no longer buy Wrangler jeans.
"Been buying Wranglers all my life for my self and my family, not any more! I'm tired of everybody having to have a say in everything what just happened to the good old classics. They will be losing my business and my families," said one Instagram user.
Other social media users are standing behind Wrangler and accusing critics of racism.
"I’ve been using wrangler for years at work. Heavy duty for sure!! What I love most about this colab it the unity it represents more than anything else! This videos of kids at school going crazy over this song no matter the color!" one person said on Instagram.
"Y’all racists can’t have nothing! No Nike’s, no ben and Jerry , no Dixie Chics , no willie Nelson, no Target, no Nordstrom, no Starbucks , no Budweiser, no Ford and now no Wranglers?" one user commented on Instagram.
@wrangler appreciate y'all. We only buy wranglers in our family but this support just took our love, respect and support to a much higher level. Thank you for supporting America. Love from North Texas ❤️"
For his part, the up-and-coming rapper seemed surprised at the negative reaction.
"y’all really boycotting wrangler?? is it that deep🧐," Lil Nas X Tweeted.
WFMY News 2 has reached out to Wrangler for comment, but we have not heard back yet.