International popstar Post Malone is used to standing out. From his face and neck tattoos to his painted nails to his gold teeth, he’s certainly not one to go unnoticed. This stands true when it comes to fashion as well. Last month, Post Malone wore a bright blue, western-style suit to the AMAs, and got shout outs for his look in Vogue, Page Six, and other media outlets that covered the red carpet. The suit had a snake embroidered on the front, as well as a monogram “P” and “M.” He received the award for best male pop/rock artist of the year while wearing it.
From across the country, Indianapolis tailor Jerry Lee Atwood was getting emotional as he watched the AMAs on television. He’d helped co-design the sky-blue suit. He never expected to make a suit for someone as famous as Post Malone and in his words, “that’s a seriously humbling feeling.”
Atwood does custom chain stitch embroidery using antique and vintage embroidery machines. Chain stitch embroidery consists of a series of loop stitches in a chain-like pattern, and it is often used in Western wear, which is Atwood’s specialty. Atwood describes using antique chain stitch embroidery machines as “painting with thread,” as they allow him to have much more control than modern day machines.
“The operator controls exactly where the stitches are laid down as opposed to modern computerized embroidery where the design is digitized and the operator simply presses a button and walks away while the machine does the work,” he said.
Atwood began to sew in 2001, and is self taught. He’s been interested in embroidery for a long time, and began making western shirts to showcase his skills. He previously worked at a drapery shop, and also spent three seasons working in Indiana Repertory Theatre’s costume shop. Atwood was even the star of a short documentary that premiered this past summer at Indy Shorts.
While he likes living in Indianapolis, Atwood feels that Indiana is a hard place to gain opportunities as an artist. He described Indiana as being “the state that people are from but where they never find their voice.”
This may be true in some cases, but it certainly doesn’t apply to his recent work for Post Malone.
Post Malone’s stylist, Catherine Hahn, contacted Atwood through Instagram last year because she was looking for someone with expertise in Western-style suits and embroidery. They designed the suit together.
“I’m a big fan of Nudie suits and Jerry is making Nudie inspired suits for modern times. As soon as I found him on Instagram I reached out immediately and said ‘we have to work together!’” Hahn said.
Nudie suits, named for American tailor Nudie Cohn, are very decorative and traditionally embellished with lots of rhinestones. Hahn’s vision for Post Malone’s suit was a cross between a Nudie suit and a Mariachi suit, with a shorter jacket and a more high-waisted pant. She also wanted to incorporate design elements from Malone’s “Beerbongs and Bentleys” album, such as barbwire and snakes.
Atwood made some sketches for the suit’s design based on Hahn’s suggestions, and after several phone conversations with Hahn, he had a plan.
“Cathy’s an incredible stylist and I genuinely think she’s one of the best in the business. She’s been recognized by Vogue, GQ, Page Six and elsewhere as a style innovator for her work with Post Malone,” Atwood said. “The vision is mostly hers.”
Hahn also enjoyed working with Atwood, and even hinted that they may be working on something new in the future.
“I love working with Jerry. The process of throwing ideas back and forth and then watching them come to life is so fun,” she said. “Jerry and I have some other creations that haven’t been seen yet that I am very excited about.”
Atwood created the suit within a quick, two-week deadline. He even had some friends help him set rhinestones to make sure it got done in time. The experience was a whirlwind for him, and he’s still a little bit in awe.
“It’s really crazy to make something for one of the biggest pop stars in the world,” he said. “I keep asking myself how this happened. I was raised Catholic so I’m terrible at recognizing that I deserve anything and I think I’m probably really hard on myself most of the time.”
While Atwood watched the AMAs last month, he thought about his goals when he first started making western wear, and how greatly he has surpassed them. He originally thought making western wear would be a casual side gig for him, while also working at a coffee shop.
“Now I feel like I’ve earned a seat at the table next to the western wear designers that came before me,” he said. “I’m forever a part of the story of rock n’ roll and that’s seriously humbling.”
You can follow more of Atwood’s work on Instagram.