New Mexico hat maker crafts authentic Billy the Kid hat


TULAROSA, N.M. (KRQE) – Billy the Kid is a tourist draw in parts of New Mexico. Now a New Mexico hat-maker is hoping to capitalize on the outlaw’s fashion sense, namely his hat.

The legend of Billy the Kid dates back more than a century, and in every picture that has surfaced of the cowboy there’s been one thing in common, his hat.

“A lot of people thought that the hat he was wearing was a prop that the photographer gave him,” Kenny Bratcher said, “but a guy like Billy the Kid, I think would’ve worn his own hat.”

Kenny Bratcher has been making hats in Tularosa for more than two decades. Recently, he got a special request.

“We are working on a Billy the Kid hat. Up until recently there was only one verified photograph of Billy the Kid and this is the hat he is wearing in the photograph,” Bratcher said.

He has made a few Billy the Kid hats for movies and pageants over the years, but he doesn’t have the market cornered.

A company in Iowa says it has sold dozens, but Bratcher says the authenticity of his hats comes from the time and work he puts into crafting his recreations, which are sometimes inspired by Hollywood.

“I’ll watch the movie and I’ll stop the hat and I’ll zoom in on it and see it at every angle,” he explained.

On his website, one hat is listed online for $355. So would New Mexicans buy it?

“The original yes, recreation probably not,” said Kimberly Phipps-Nichol, an Albuquerque visitor.

“No, I would not buy a Billy the Kid hat but I can appreciate the craft,” said Sarah Dickins, an Albuquerque resident.

Therese Thomas had a different opinion. “My husband’s in-laws own a restaurant in Las Cruces that Billy the Kid supposedly was involved with a robbery, so I might consider it.”

Bratcher was voted 2017’s best western hat maker by True West Magazine. His custom hats can take weeks to make and the prices range from $300-$950.

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