by Bill Amos
Updates have been a little scarce here at NW Alpine so I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk a little bit about what's been going on with us, where we are now, and what's in store for the future.
Where we came from
I launched NW Alpine in 2010 with the goal of making alpine climbing clothing in the United States. Starting on a small scale we were able to utilize local contract manufacturers to develop and manufacture our line. This worked to an extent but being a small brand with small orders, it's quite difficult to get attention from manufacturers who must focus on larger clients to keep the lights on. We started working with a small manufacturer outside of Portland in 2011 and slowly we transitioned most of our business to them. With sales doubling every year it was clear that we were going to outgrow our main manufacturers capabilities. For the fall/winter season of 2014 we took few orders from retailers because we were concerned about being able to fill orders, and this turned out to be a good thing as we had issues even filling the orders that we received. It was during this time that we started to talk to the owner of our manufacturer about their future goals.
Where we are now
In October 2014 we finalized a deal to purchase the manufacturer's assets and launched Kichatna Apparel Manufacturing LLC. KAM's mission is to provide NW Alpine with guaranteed access to manufacturing, as well as provide contract sewing services to other brands that are interested in making their products domestically. We hit the ground running, bought more equipment, hired more people and have spent the last eleven months building this side of the business. If you've tried to contact us during the last year and gotten a delayed response and wondered what was happening, this is it.
Where we're headed
What does this mean for NW Alpine? Throughout the last year we've brainstormed the future of the company, and continued to develop new products. NW Alpine will remain dedicated to our core values of making functional clothing for alpine climbing and manufacturing our products domestically. Owning our own manufacturing means that we have the ability to prioritize our products, as well as greater control over quality and speed to market.
This winter expect to find our products at three of our key retailers: in Portland at the Mountain Shop and MadeHerePDX, and at Mountain Supply in Bend. You'll be able to shop for our full line on our website as well.
As always we greatly appreciate your support. If it wasn't for our loyal and stoked customers we wouldn't be here.
As with all of our apparel, the development of our first softshell jacket (the Big Four jacket) began with our core belief that technical clothing for climbing should be simple and functional. There are many options available on the market for softshell jackets, but not many that remove all of the extraneous stuff that adds weight and hassle to a garment. We wanted a jacket that fully took advantage of the best parts of softshell fabrics and left out anything that wasn't necessary. Our first generation was extremely minimalist, with just a chest pocket, two inside stretch pockets and a hood with a fixed elastic cord.
For Fall 2013 we made some changes to our initial design to create the Fast/Light Jacket. We started with the fabric. We searched far and wide, through hundreds of different softshell fabrics before deciding on one from the Tweave Durastretch family of fabrics. The fabric is created by a non-conventional process for wrapping yarn called air entanglement. This process gives the fabric a softer hand, while improving the stretch. An eight percent spandex content also allows for awesome mobility in the fabric.
We spent many hours with our fit model and designers (and went through many samples) to get the fit just right. The jacket is athletically cut. The length and stretch of the fabric allows the jacket to easily stay under a harness, and the sleeves are long enough to not get annoying when swinging ice tools or rock climbing. The hood is also helmet compatible.
For features we kept things minimal with hook and loop adjustable cuffs, a zippered chest pocket (on the opposite side as our Black Spider Hoody for layering purposes), inside stretch pockets, and we added adjustment to the hood.
Essentially we created the non-compromising softshell jacket that we wanted to wear.
Our women's version is also great, utilizing the same Durastretch fabric and design concept as the men's. You can check out this video for more information:
The Fast/Light jacket is available at many of these fine retailers. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
We just received these photos from Eric Dacus of his and Jon Jugenheimer's ascent of Freezy Nuts on London Tower in the Ruth Gorge. Eric says:
The salopette I bought last fall worked great. I was really impressed by how dry I stayed despite all the snow climbing we found. Also the chest pockets were placed well, and it was really easy to swap out my camera batteries to keep them warm enough to stay charged
Good work gentlemen!
Eric Halfway up Freezy Nuts
Jon on the last ice step, Freezy Nuts
Rappelling Freezy Nuts