Double D Ranch
How the Western haute couture label went from one stranger’s Indian blanket coat to the backs of celebrities.
The Double D family, left to right: Cheryl, Audrey, Hedy, Margie, and the late Doug McMullen.
Twenty years ago, Cheryl McMullen was shopping in Taos, New Mexico, when she spotted a man wearing a coat made from a Pendleton blanket that she just adored. So she did what any fashion-loving girl would do — she asked him where he got the coat, found the shop, and ordered one for herself.
When Cheryl and her sister Audrey attended the Dallas Market Center a month later to scout ideas for their interior design business, that coat got so much attention that they couldn’t get anything done. People just kept asking about it (one woman even went so far as to stop a bus they were riding on to find out). So the sisters figured they’d make a few and sell them to whoever was interested. “It sounded fun, and we thought, What the heck? Maybe we’ll make some vacation money,” says Audrey.
And so began an adventure that would become Double D Ranch, one of the best-known and best-loved names in crossover cool.
The tale of getting that first coat into production is about as far from an haute couture story as Yoakum, Texas, is from New York City. Determined to find authentic silver buttons, the sisters hit the road from Laredo, Texas, to Taxco, Mexico. In spite of a nerve-racking ride on a rickety chicken-filled bus and an equally nerve-racking $5,000 transaction with a shady merchant, the girls got their silver buttons — and they got going on the coats. The undertaking would shortly find them landing in the middle of the night in New York with no idea how to get an Indian blanket design on wool, and later riding horseback-style in the back of a pickup on top of bundles of cut Indian blanket coat pieces en route from cutter to sewing factory in San Antonio.
With the support of their father, Doug (their recently deceased dad is one of the Ds in Double D; the other D is for his daughters); mother, Margie; and sister Hedy, the girls managed to turn those coat orders into a family business. Now, 20 years and hundreds of Indian blanket coats later, the three sisters and their mom are still going strong, making their own brand of vintage-inspired cowgirl cool right at home in Yoakum.
But coats — which now include everything from ankle-length dusters to biker jackets with fringe and studs — are just part of the story. Today’s Double D Ranch collection also features low-slung Gunslinger jeans, calf-grazing velvet gypsy skirts, colorful dresses inspired by faraway places such as Majorca and Marrakech, and ethnic-inspired peasant tops and tunics in cool cottons and rich velvets. There’s also a home furnishings line (the reason Double D Ranchwear became Double D Ranch). And the family itself has grown right along with the collection: The extended clan now numbers some 45 employees, who have been known to stay till all hours to make a deadline without even being asked.
There’s plenty to show for all that dedication, including many awards and high-profile customers, among them Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Jessica Lange, Kim Basinger, Madeleine Stowe, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The collections have long appeared in C&I and have also been seen in Texas Monthly, Marie Claire, and The New York Times. But no matter how successful they’ve become, the family behind Double D Ranch has never gotten too big for their boots or forgotten their roots.
For more information on Double D Ranch, visit www.ddranchwear.com.