What does it mean to be a man? When John B. Stetson was first plying his trade across the American West in the 1800s, the answer was seemingly simpler than it is today. A man rode hard. A man got his hands dirty. He slept under the stars, washed his face in the “crick” and considered sweat a sign of work well done. And in fairness, those were the kind of men who built the USA, who inspired the original “Boss of the Plains” hat — and who made Stetson synonymous with cowboys and their spirit of rugged, hard-living independence.

Yet consider this: John Stetson was not a cowboy. A hat maker like his father before him, he wrangled fabric, not steer. He had sartorial sense, not horse sense. He forged his trails through ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive. More like the Victorian ideal of a gentleman than the Buffalo Bill types who would influence him, Stetson’s personal version of manhood was underappreciated in his time.

But times have changed — and the idea of manhood with them. We’ve traded in Gary Cooper for Bradley Cooper. We now do yoga at Yellowstone. Fashion is king. Men have traded in the crick for a cleansing ritual, dirty hands for manicures, and that “hard work” smell for scented deodorant.

With the introduction of the Stetson Men’s Grooming Collection, rugged independence now wears a new face — one that genuinely reflects its founder. From skin, hair and facial hair to overall body care, the personal care collection gives independent-minded men of every personal style the tools to look and feel their best. (And it’s manly to like tools, right?)

None of which is to say that Stetson himself was not rugged — trekking Pike’s Peak for gold was hardly a genteel endeavor — but that that a man can be both hard and soft, wild and cultured, a dreamer and grounded. Today, what it means to be a man is whatever you want it to mean — manhood is what you make it. It’s a world where Stetson the man fits as comfortably as Stetson the hat.
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