Beloved Wool Brand Ibex Shutting Down In February

Independent Vermont company was unable to find savior-buyer


Like most outdoor brands, independent or owned by a conglomerate, Ibex has been navigating the challenging shoals of the modern retail environment, with competition from Amazon and other large online players, plus the typical commercial issues of market share, pricing pressure, space in shops in more. That venture is coming to an end, though, as Ibex will shut down its business by February, CEO Ted Manning told Adventure Journal.

The move comes less than a month after it was falsely reported by SNEWS, an outdoor trade publication, that Ibex was done. At the time of that report, Ibex was actively seeking a buyer. Manning told AJ, “Up until the last week of October, it appeared there was a path for the brand to be sold and move forward with continuity. We had a buyer and the way that things don’t work out sometimes, this one didn’t work out.”

The Ibex team had been transitioning to a direct-to-consumer business model, in which sales primarily come from the company website, bringing higher margins and (hopefully) lower overhead costs. It’s a move many outdoor brands are pursuing, but it brings its own challenges, including not alienating the existing retailers, fulfilling orders, and actually getting online shoppers to visit the site, which is expensive. All those pieces were falling into place, Manning said, making the decision to shut down all the tougher.

Ibex was founded in eastern Vermont in 1997 and earned a diehard customer base that loved its merino apparel and classic styling. It built a dealer network of about 300 storefronts. It sourced its wool in New Zealand and was at the leading edge of wool’s resurgence as a technical fabric in the 1990s. In the end, though, it wasn’t enough.

“Why?” said Manning. “It’s a tricky question, honestly. It’s difficult to explain, in that there are parts I can’t talk about and parts that are hard to understand. There are the macro pressures of later and later winters, the omnipresence of big retailers online, the promotional pressures on price…and we dealt with all of those just like everyone else. When you combine those with the systemic pressures in the business, we reach this point.”

Ibex is now on a glide path to closure. “We’re entering into a soft liquidation. We’re trying not to cheat the brand or the people who love it. We’ll start letting people know [Friday]. We expect to cease operations in February, sales will become final and no returns. And we’ll use our inventory in our channels and closeout opportunities, convert it to cash, and fulfill our responsibility to the brand.”

Despite the ending of Ibex as it’s known today, Manning is hopefully someone will be able to resurrect it. “The raw material that is required to restart is good. The [lack of] love affair with the brand isn’t what happened to here. That’s not the liability. Quality of product is not the issue. The value of our house file is quite good. That’s what’s the opportunity for someone, and I have been overwhelmed by the level of interest” from potential buyers.

Photos courtesy Ibex

 

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.
Showing 37 comments
  • Miranda
    Reply

    Noooooo!!!! I was so sad to hear this when I got online today. RIP Ibex, hope you come back soon.

    • Barbara Schultz
      Reply

      I was completely devastated when I went to the web site as I have done many times before, too see you are no more. I will treasure my closet full of Ibex. I have a closet full of Ibex wear it’s basically all I wear. Will be looking for your return.
      Thank you
      Barbara Schultz

  • Catherine
    Reply

    Another, NO! There are days when I look down at what I am wearing and it is almost all Ibex. I will be mending some of my most loved pieces of your apparel for many years to come–I have been so comfortable in my woolies from you.

  • TL Howard
    Reply

    Well, darn! No pun intended. WoolAire jacket, Woolies base layers, other items….Et tu Ibex? What is the world coming to? Guess I’ll be hanging on to my products for ever now.

  • Abe
    Reply

    I ski in Ibex Zephyr tops and bottoms and their sweater is warmer than any of my others. This stuff lasts. Temprature regulation with wool must be experienced to understand. When 1 foot broke thru the ice mountain biking within 1/2 a minute you could barely notice which foot was the wet one. I have other wool sweaters but the Ibex knit is tighter, tougher, better fitting and warmer. Have bought several brands of wool, Icebreaker, Smartwool, I/O Bio. Patagonia and Stoic. All work, Ibex is the best I own.

  • Charlie Brady
    Reply

    Ironically, I was wearing my favorite Ibex vest today here in Boone, NC. Hopefully, the brand will be resurrected with a commitment to core principles. Thanks, guys. I’ll treasure my Ibex.

  • John Bieno
    Reply

    It was a sad day when I read this. I believe in the product, the approach and the people. I wish all the people at Ibex, and their supply chain, success and happiness in their next chapter.

  • Pamela Erickson
    Reply

    Elevation Clothing alerted me to this sad news. I love my Ibex stuff! Thank you – will stock up on Izzi Tavern pants – my favorites all winter.

  • Anne
    Reply

    I feel this loss so personally! Ibex is my absolute favorite for performance merino.

  • Tom A
    Reply

    Sorry to hear this. I’m a fan of your products.

  • Alina
    Reply

    This is terrible! I LOVE my Ibex! It breaks my heart. Not only am I upset over the loss of an amazing product, but the loss of hard working American jobs. This makes me really sad. Ibex has been one of my few “go-to” companies for clothing for year around living, I hope there is a glimmer of light to help the company and its employees to recover.

  • Lynn
    Reply

    I am crushed. Me, my husband, my running, climbing and hiking friends in Boulder are devastated.
    Wish we could buy the company, and help restart the brand.
    As a firm believer, in quality, durable goods made in the USA – this is the saddest news.
    Will remain a devoted follower, will love every last piece in our collections and will hold out hope, that there is a way forward.

    Lynn and friends, Boulder Colorado

  • Carden
    Reply

    Bummer. Fact is though, wholesale business is still the most profitable for a brand. Going totally direct was (obviously) not a good idea. You control the brand better, but it is often far less profitable.

    Hope this can be resurrected.

  • JCP
    Reply

    I am so sorry to hear this news. I was just walking through an outdoor big box store today and see every piece of gear is made with synthetic material and made in China. I have several of your pieces and will continue to wear wool over other material. I too wish I could make the capital investment to keep this going, even on principle. I will stock up on as much of your great product as possible. Godspeed and I hope for a triumphant return.

  • Kathy Glass
    Reply

    Another little bit of US quality and innovation going down the tubes to globalism and capitalist pressures, making the world and especially the great outdoors worse off than before. I felt good buying the combo of New Zealand wool and US/Canadian craftsmanship. Ibex products are superb, and it says a lot that this business can’t make it today. Like so many good things in life, it will be missed as the mediocre competition triumphs. Thank you for the great work and the products I have!

  • Maryellen Sullivan
    Reply

    Why doesn’t the Darn Tough company buy Ibex? Love both! and both Vermont

  • Sarah A Manges
    Reply

    Please say No!!!! The absolute best clothing I have ever worn. I wear IBEX every time I go outside. I was always cold when I ran, hiked or skied i until I years ago I found IBEX.

    .

  • Mary
    Reply

    I just found out… I am soooooo sad! I have a drawer full of woolies and look forward every year to cold weather so I can start wearing them. I converted my husband over to woolies too and he loves them. Thank you for all the creativity, passion and hard work that it took over the last 20 years to build up the brand and create a loyal following. I hope this is not goodbye forever…..

  • Amy B
    Reply

    I got the email today that next week (Jan 17th) that the Ibex website will be closing down for good. I have to say that even though I’ve known this since the announcement back in December that this news had such finality to it that I almost cried. I’ve been a huge fan of the brand since the early 2000 and have so many wonderful pieces of quality wool from Ibex that I will now hold onto like gold. The Indie hoody is a staple in my wardrobe, as is the OD heather tees and the Woolies….it just makes me sad that such a wonderful company (where you can bring your dog to work!!) has to close due to pressures from the big box stores and online giants. I see this happening with other companies too and I wonder if one day we will all be forced to wear the same cheap garment bought from one omnipresent company…but I digress. I wish I had the capital to infuse into Ibex because I believe in the brand and I sincerely hope it will be resurrected in some way.

  • Sven Johannsen
    Reply

    Ibex was my favorite brand – while the competition deluded their products more and more with synthetics, Ibex stayed true to pure merino wool.

  • Heather
    Reply

    Noooooo!! Living in Alaska I also LIVE in Ibex. This is terrible news, and I’m sad to just find out about it now.

  • Rachel Muir
    Reply

    Thank you, Ibex for the most prized possessions in my closet. I am so very sad to lose you. I have been of the Ibex religion, wearing your garments year-round in rural Alaska, and depending on you for quality, style and washability. Today, I wish I would have bought two or three of each piece I own to sustain me through one human lifetime.

    Thank you for showing me such great quality. I’m grateful and have hope for your return.

  • Bruce Carlson
    Reply

    I love ibex! However one of the key things I liked was it was made(assembled/sewn) in the USA. I started to lose interest when I started seeing made in Vietnam etc labels

    • JJ
      Reply

      Same thing for me, I love it but toward the end had to scan to find the few remaining products not made in Asia.

  • Dan
    Reply

    We live in South Florida, yes, wool clothes in South Florida. My wife is a big fan of Ibex and has drawers full of Ibex clothes, many items in duplicate. When we found out about the company closing, she burst out crying. It was like a death in the family. There are so many days when all the clothing she is wearing is Ibex and there is always an Ibex piece of clothing on the drip dry rack. As I write this, the last day the company is doing business, she made a mad dash to buy anything she could get her hands on. We wonder how such a great company couldn’t survive, but when we look around and see the American population dressed in rags, with no thought or care as to appearance, we scratch our heads in dismay. Ibex was a one of a kind company with fantastic designs and great core values. Ibex will be sorely missed in this household. The only upside is that, with care, her clothes will last a very long time. Thank you Ibex, for all you have been and for all the happiness you have given my wife.

  • David B.
    Reply

    So – Sad – I live in my black Ibex wool t-shirts. I wish I had stocked up more. Will be looking for a new source of quality wool products. I was in REI looking at the Smart-wool socks on sale and the sales person told me Smart-wool socks are not made from wool anymore…

  • Peggy Cassarly
    Reply

    Cannot agree more with all writers above. Ibex has had such a place in the heart of my entire family, and we are not outdoor sports people, but love natural fabrics. Most of mine have lasted 7-10 years and it was such a surprise in a way to hear of the closing. Of course I stocked up on a few favs and gambled on a few new styles so as not to be totally depressed. Our hearts are broken- Hope to see them back at some point!

  • Debra DiMeo
    Reply

    So sad to learn another quality American producer closing. As an owner of a relatively new merino outerwear company that is completely sourced and manufactured in the USA, we also feel the pressure underpaid labor and low-quality material creates in the marketplace. Wondering if there is enough demand to keep a small company, without a giant marketing budget, going. Our very best to you and your team. It’s all a journey, and I am sure you have met great people and have had wonderful experiences along the way.

  • Cliff
    Reply

    no No NO!!! I was going to call this morning to get tips on safely laundering my WoolAire coat. Visited the website to get the ph# and read to my dismay the announcement. Heart broken is an understatement… I really hope Ibex will be resurrected while maintaining it’s core values…. and please keep the clothing manufacturing in the USA if Ibex does come back to life!.

  • Dominique Codère
    Reply

    Allo mon nom est Dominique from Montreal. You have no idea how many Ibex items I have in my drawers. I like and take care of them. One of my favourite full leg cycling padded tights for late cycling season. Please somehow hopefully Ibex will resurface. According to a BBC article Ibex are: «…They are agile and skillful climbers among the steep cliffs of mountainous habitats and survive on the sparse vegetation that grows there… » good luck to employees for relocations and other job opportunities.

  • Kristin
    Reply

    Ibex has kept my family warm, dry, and comfortable on myriad adventures to cold, wet, and remote places. I was visiting the website to find another Woolies 3 hoody, the warmest and coziest on the planet, when I read this sad news. I’m heartbroken and not sure how I’ll break it to my family. You have been our favorite wool brand for years and we will greatly miss you.

  • Mary
    Reply

    NO, NO, NO !!!!! Please try again! I have so much Ibex stuff, and am always eager to see what else new you have! Ibex is the best! My woolies are the best! So warm, cozy, dry, with long length, including the sleeves. I live in Buffalo and pretty much live in them. I have a beautiful cardigan, a hoodie, and leggings. Love them all and frequently give Ibex as Christmas gifts to my active family members.
    I am bereft.

  • M
    Reply

    I’m so disappointed I could cry. My Ibex wool coat has kept me so very warm since my return from West Africa to the Pacific NW in 2007. I went online today to look into getting a replacement because it has finally begun to wear out on the sleeves. What will I do! Ibex products are of the highest quality!

  • Ken
    Reply

    Ibex LIVES in our house!

  • Sally Allen
    Reply

    I’m sitting at my desk wearing one of my great Ibex sweaters that just yesterday my doctor complimented me on and said she wanted to get one!
    Feeling very sad :-{ . It’s going to be a lot harder buying great Christmas presents!

    Sally

  • Kadie
    Reply

    Rats! I had just learned about Ibex (asked someone where she got her great shirt/jacket) and now they are no more. Really bad timing because I am looking to swap out all of my fleece clothing, which when washed feeds nasty stuff into the environment.

  • Peter Heath
    Reply

    I too live in Ibex. The problem is that everything is wearing out. I really hope they start up again soon!

    Peter

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