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Dumb Fashion Accessory

Trout Flies

Tom Whiting didn’t exactly make a fortune as the world’s largest producer of rooster feathers, which are used to tie flies for trout fishing. At least until earlier this year. That’s when the Delta (Colo.) farmer began selling his wares, known as hackle, to hair salon owners hoping to recreate the look of grizzled rocker Steven Tyler, who wore black-barred feathers in his hair during Season 10 of American Idol. Soon angling shops in Colorado and Oregon were flooded with young women. Whiting, who now harvests more than 1,000 birds per week, had the market cornered. “What I discovered,” he says, “is that fashion is a much bigger business than fly-fishing.”

Streep is a contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek and correspondent at Outside magazine. He lives in Wyoming. Follow him on Twitter at @AbeStreep.

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