Farm-to-table is the latest trend in food and now there’s farm-to-shelf for apparel.
Voormi is a Colorado-based craft apparel brand that specializes in cold-weather apparel. The company sources its wool from sheep in the Rocky Mountains near the company’s base of Pagosa Springs. “We can point to the farm where this merino came from,” said Timm Smith, Voormi’s chief marketing officer and one of the original company members.
Smith drilled down even further about the locally sourced nature of the wool. “We work with ranchers up and down the Rocky Mountain regions, specifically on high elevation wool,” he said, “We comb it. We cut it. We clean it. We spin it and we knit it in the United States.”
Voormi also keeps the sewing within the U.S. as well. The clothes are manufactured in the states by a handful of small operators. It is “small-batch” clothing. “The vision is that if you have 20, 10-person factories then you have a 200-person factory. If all the pattern making is all digital now, you have one central hub that can send information and distribute manufacturing,” Smith said. “We like to source them in small towns, so you have a cool job in a small town.”
What makes Voormi unique is that it isn’t just wool, it’s a highly specialized precision blended wool that is finished with a durable water repellent. Water actually balls up and rolls off the fabric.
The company spent four years doing research in order to create a wool fabric that would stay warm, wick away moisture, but also repel water and wind. Voormi owns the patent on the process.
“It used to be when you made something waterproof, you bought a waterproof membrane and stuck it together. It’s clunky and it’s loud,” Smith said. “We knit the yarn and the membrane together so you get this sweater-like feel.”
Small batch clothing doesn’t come cheap. A women’s thermal top retails for $129 and the women’s High-E Hoodie is $229. The jackets can go up to $600. Smith said that the clothes are not fast fashion and are meant to be worn for many years. The products are sold online and at select specialty retailers in mountain ski towns.
The result is a jacket that is soft like a sweater, but technical enough to wear in cold weather. It’s waterproof without the swishy sound of typical waterproof jacket fabrics. The company established a second business called Starting With New Rules that will license the technology to other manufacturers similar to what Gore-Tex once did.
The products were launched in 2015 and immediately began winning awards. The company has won a Colorado Manufacturing Award and named a Colorado Business to Watch in 2016.
If you were wondering about that name? Voormi is the name of an ancient mythological Scandinavian creature that traveled across snow using skis and made use of the natural resources around them.