Vermont-based wool-clothing manufacturer Ibex closed its doors in February 2018. The move came as the brand transitioned to a direct-to-consumer sales model in an effort to reduce operating costs as the brand tried to stay afloat in a sea of outdoor apparel competition, both online, and in stores. It was a blow to a dedicated customer base who’d grown fond of an apparel company that had personality, made their clothes in the US, that helped usher in the age of performance merino wool. They had a reputation for producing quality, long-lasting clothes.
“Why?” then-CEO Ted Manning told AJ. “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.”
In March 2018, Ibex’s remaining assets and intellectual property were purchased by Flour Fund, a New York-based investment group. At the time, little was known about Flour Fund’s plans for Ibex, other than the investment group professing excitement about the opportunities of merino wool.
We’re about to find out just what their plans are. Later this month, Ibex will relaunch the brand.
Ibex Relaunches, but No Longer in Vermont
It will be a small, very streamlined operation at the start at least. The only full-time employee is general manager Bonie Shupe. Shupe is a veteran of the outdoor industry, having previously worked as a designer and development consultant for Cabela’s, Krimson Klover, Spyder, and Voormi. Some former Ibex employees are working with Shupe as contractors.
The Vermont connection seems to be gone. Shupe is based in Boulder, Colorado, and Ibex will be strictly direct-to-consumer as they get their feet underneath them, with no retail storefronts. Wholesale may come down the road, however.
Less than 30 styles will be released initially. “We really want to take the opportunity to reconnect with our customers, share what we’ve learned, and improve on the products that people already love,” Shupe told AJ. “With this collection, we really went back to basics. We took a core group of the classic items that have resonated with our customers, and took time to make them better.”
Ibex previously made their apparel in the US, though that will not necessarily be the focus this time around, according to Shupe, with the brand looking to have some sourcing and manufacturing overseas, as long as there are fair labor standards. “In terms of sourcing, we’ve worked tirelessly to build a supply chain that is fair, transparent, and sustainable. Our values as a brand are key in this decision-making,” Shupe explained.
Whether consumers can tell a difference or not in manufacturing, one thing that will remain: the familiar Ibex goat logo.
A firm date for the relaunch has not been made available, but expect to see their website go live in the next few weeks.