I’m pleased to introduce you all to a new feature on the blog called Brand Bias. As a true vintage-loving dork, I’m often curious about the brands I stumble across at thrifts, and love to do some digging to learn about them. Brand Bias is a result of that digging…I’ll highlight vintage brands that can frequently be spotted in thrift shops and share little tidbits of their history and fashions that I find interesting. Today, I’m kicking it off with an iconic brand based right here in the U.S. of A.
Brand name: Rockmount Western Wear Manufacturing Company
Years in business: 1946-present day
Headquartered: 1626 Wazee Street, Denver, Colorado
10 Things You Should to Know About Rockmount
♥ Rockmount is a family run company, founded in 1946 by a former garter salesman named Jack Weil, also known as Papa Jack.
♥ Papa Jack and his wife Beatrice, had two children and five grandchildren—all whom worked at the company at some point. His grandson, Steve Weil, now runs the operation. Here’s Steve spray painting the Berlin Wall in 1988.
♥ Papa Jack was the first person to put snaps on Western shirts. 17 of them, to be exact. The fitted tailoring of a Rockmount shirt, along with the shoulder-broadening yokes, and of course, those pearly snaps, appealed to cowboys’ sense of practicality (no buttons to sew on) and the desire for flash.
♥ Many sources also credit Rockmount with being the first company to produce bolo ties commercially. What’s a bolo? It’s a necktie made of cord with a decorative slide. The ever-stylish Zoe, of Haiku Ambulance, rocks them frequently.
♥ Rockmount shirts have been worn proudly by many famous actors and musicians, both in real life, and on screen and on tour.
♥ Not too long after the company’s inception, Rockmount branched out from bolos and shirts, and began making blouses, Stetson-style hats, skirts, scarves, jackets…even dresses.
♥ Although frequently harassed by Sam Walton about supplying his stores with shirts, Weil refused. He considered the Wal-Mart founder to be a “hillbilly son of a bitch,” and also was reluctant to have any one customer take more than five percent of his business.
♥ Papa Jack was regularly called the oldest working CEO, as he went to work everyday from 8-12 until just before his death. He credited for his longevity to quitting smoking (at the age of 60), drinking (at 90), eating red meat (at 100). That said, he still enjoyed two shots of Jack a week, “for medicinal purposes.”
♥ Weil died in 2008 at the age of 107. In announcing the death, his grandson, Steve, said Mr. Weil was to Western shirts what Henry Ford was to cars, and, indeed, the global spread of cowboy style owes much to him.
♥ It’s not uncommon to find vintage Rockmount at thrift shops. Just last week I found this ’80s skirt in a Goodwill in Elk River.
Look for plaids, snap-front shirts, tiered skirts and dresses. The brand’s tags look like this…
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about this important American brand. I personally am a huge fan of vintage Western wear, and it was fun to dig up some info on the company that basically started it all. If you have brands you’re curious about, please let me know!
I hope you all have lovely Saturdays. I’m off to hit up a new-to-me thrift in St. Paul Park! Wish me luck!
P.S. Curious about a photo source? Click the image!