Posted: April 15, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Clothing, bags & jewelry
Icebox Knitting, Verre Encore and Ecologic DesignsBy Eric Peterson
Hats and caps
A nostalgic nod to domesticity of days passed, each Dohm “Knit in America” wool hat is locally woven from world-class yarn on an antique, hand-powered knitting machine. Icebox Knitting came about in 1993 when co-founders Josh McGlothlin and Scott Baker were commissioned to make hats for a Boulder store. “We bought a little hand flap machine and knitted 500 hats before realizing there had to be a better way,” Baker recalls.
The pair found Alpine Knitting, a 4,000-square-foot factory owned by the late Richard Kruger. For a decade, the men got a sweetheart deal: factory space in exchange for a quarter per hat. The team has since relocated to Longmont where it sells hats and accessories to mostly North American customers; a small portion of sales, Baker estimates 10 to 15 percent, comes from Japan and South Korea.
In 2006, Icebox Knitting introduced Xob. Upcycled caps and accessories such as holiday stockings and sweater monkeys are made from pre-used, wool-blend clothing; production remnants are repurposed, diverting more than 30,000 pounds of waste from landfills. “By avoiding virgin materials, we can make something really neat,” says Baker. “We do the same silhouette over and over, but it isn’t boring because variables come in through different materials.”
Ecologic Designs President and Founder Davidson Lewis practically grew up in a bike shop. He was always tinkering, finding thrifty ways to use old parts. Lewis’ knack for repurposing is the backbone of his company, a business that helps other businesses – names like AT&T, Nike and WhiteWave – repurpose event banners, signage and billboards into reusable bags.
Ecologic Designs practices what it preaches, addressing common pitfalls with DIY solutions. At its Boulder headquarters, you’ll find on-site recycling, composting and an employee garden, and there’s also a bike-to-work initiative. Six full-time employees and a few dozen independent contractors eagerly bolster the evolution of business practices by raising awareness about sustainability.
In 2007, Lewis launched Green Guru Gear, a division of the company dedicated to upcycling gear. Tents, wetsuits, bike tubes and climbing rope are given new life as outdoor accessories. “Most outdoor stuff is made overseas and most big Colorado brands moved to Vietnam eight or 12 years ago,” says Lewis. “The domestic part – creating jobs through local production – that’s really important to all of us.”
Today, raw finishes are most common on metals such as silver, gold and brass. Color, however, is a must for artist Lynsey Morgan; which is why she practices the ancient art of enameling, a technique that uses very high temperatures to fuse powdered glass to metal. Her business, Verre Encore – French for “glass again” – delivers bright, durable jewelry.
Morgan has been crafting jewelry on the Front Range since she relocated to Colorado two years ago. A grassroots operation, each piece of Morgan’s work is handcrafted in the artist’s “garage-slash-studio.” The jewelry – earrings, necklaces and pendants – is mostly sold online at Etsy.com, and La Rouge Boutique, part of Loveland’s Centerra Plaza, also carries Morgan’s work.
Morgan first pursued her passion for the craft full-time after the recession hit. She admits jewelry seemed an unwise endeavor at a time when most Americans were scaling back, but her work often strikes a chord in this economy. “Honestly, I feel like I’m part of a bigger movement,” says Morgan. “I’ve found people are looking for more meaning and value in the things they buy and I’m humbled when somebody chooses my jewelry.”
Ashley Eyre Bracelets
For stylish bracelets made of aluminum scrap, look no further.
Beer Clothing Co.
The Beer Buckle’s facade flips down for a handy belt-level beverage holder.
Heavy-duty belts, as well as dog leashes and other products.
Dad still wants to look cool when he’s out with his toddler, and that’s where DadGear enters the picture.
Unique jewelry made of collectible beads, antiques and other distinctive materials.
Elisabethan has been recycling apparel into fresh looks since 1996.
Free Time Goods
You can’t beat a hand-crocheted Colorado flag hat out on the slopes.
Maruca Design Bags
Rex Maruca’s handbags have something of a cult following.
“Divine neckwear” offers a different take on a necklace.
These retro-inspired handbags have one strap in the 1960s.
Wear the Party
Wear the Party T-shirts are “interactive apparel” that allow wearers to create glowing temporary slogans themselves.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com