Vt.-Based Ibex to Use Domestic Wool

From Ibex:

Recognizing the significance and importance of creating and retaining jobs on U.S. soil, Ibex Outdoor Clothing ups the ante by expandingits wool source to a family owned and operated sheep ranch in Montana. For Fall 2012, Ibex introduces 100-percent U.S. resources in all of its 21 micron wool Shak Lite garments. From the farm to the finished garment, Ibex is proud to be able to source, process and sew these SKUs entirely in the USA.

Sourcing wool of the highest quality was the impetus of Ibex’s recent trip to Lavina, Montana to the Lehfeldt family ranch. For more than 100 years, three generations of the Lehfeldt family have raised Rambouillet sheep, a breed known for its ultra-fine wool. In addition to raising and caring for their sheep, the Lehfeldts are stewards of their land in the tiny town of Lavina. Tradition, heritage and a genuine devotion to their sheep and commitment to the land led Ibex to select the Lehfeldts’ Rambouillet wool for its best-selling Shak Lite garments.

From Montana, the wool travels to a top making facility in South Carolina where it is combed and scoured. From there, it’s sent to North Carolina where the wool is spun into yarn and knit into fabric.

From North Carolina, the wool is sent to Ibex’s factories in the Bay Area of northern California where it is cut and sewn into finished garments. Earlier this year, Ibex opened a West Coast office to oversee production and manufacturing at the company’s factories in and around the Bay Area.

“The impact of being able to expand our U.S. production to encompass our entire supply chainmeans 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,” he noted.

“Having our production in the U.S. means that we are developing relationships with oursuppliers, and working closely with our cutters and sewers,” Fernsell explains. “For many ofthese manufacturers, we represent about 90-percent of their business,” Fernsell noted. “Our products are fabric-rich, not labor-rich, and we want quality, consistency, with well-trainedcutters and sewers—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 wheretheir products are manufactured,” he adds.

Looking forward, Fernsell expects to continue to source wool from the U.S. and build on Ibex’s ‘field to fabrication’ program. “This is really important and a priority for us,” he said.
To see the Lehfeldt family farm in Montana and hear from the farmers directly, check out thevideo Ibex Goes to Montana—an American Tale at www.ibex.com/montana.

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