From Montana sheep farm to hoodies and half-zips, Ibex's fall 2012 Shak Lite garments will be 100-percent American-made, sourced, and processed.
That means American sheep, ranchers, cutters, sewers, and designers all have a hand (or hoof) in producing that wool midlayer.
“Being able to expand our U.S. production to encompass our entire supply chain means that we can be more hands-on in every process along the way — from the farm to the finished garment,” said John Fernsell, founder and CEO of Ibex. “And ultimately, that means higher quality garments.”
Here's how it works, from sheep to Shak Lite:
- 21-micron wool is collected from Rambouillet sheep at the Lehfeldt family ranch in Lavina, Montana.
- The wool is sent to South Carolina, where it's combed and scoured.
- Next it's sent to North Carolina, where it's spun into yarn and knit into fabric.
- Last, it's sent to Ibex’s factories in California's Bay Area, where it's cut and sewn into one of four Shak Lite finished garments: Shak Lite 1/2 Zip (men's and women's, $120), Shak Lite F/Z (men's, $135), or Shak Lite Hoody (women's, $135).
Ibex chose the Shak Lite line for its American wool debut because it has fewer products and a smaller sales volume than the traditional Shak series.
"It allowed us to put the supply chain through a real world test without putting one of our main iconic products at jeopardy," said Keith Anderson, VP of Marketing for Ibex. "Basically we chose to take small steps here rather than a big leap. We want to help develop a strong and stable supply chain that can ramp up with our demand."
Ibex credits a growing interest in quality, American-made goods for the move.
“Our products are fabric-rich, not labor-rich, and we want quality, consistency, with well-trained cutters and sewers," said Fernsell. "So for us, chasing cheap labor doesn’t make sense. It’s also important to our customers that we are mostly made in the USA. People are becoming more vocal about where their products are manufactured.”
Fernsell would like to expand Ibex's use of U.S. wool in the future. “This is really important and a priority for us,” he said.
See the Lehfeldt ranch in Montana in the video Ibex Goes to Montana – an American Tale below.