When it comes to winter wear, Tahoe locals are a brand-conscious bunch. We value a good Gore-Tex, a well-fitting beanie, our prized ski gloves — and we look to names like Patagonia, Burton, and Arc’teryx to deliver. But after discovering a few fresh faces in the local winter apparel scene, I’m inspired to wear local this winter. Meet the makers behind some of this season’s slickest-looking duds, and discover a local brand to get loyal to.
LetsGetBagged Outerwear — Carrie Cameron Hall
Carrie Cameron Hall, 28, has wanted to design outerwear as far back as she can remember. Her passion for snowboarding landed her in Lake Tahoe 11 years ago, where she has since pursued a bachelor’s of fine arts at Sierra Nevada College, with a concentration in photography. For her final project this past November, Hall combined three of her interests — outerwear design, snowboarding, and photography — to create LetsGetBagged, a line of some of the most unique jackets you’ll see on the slopes this winter.
At the core of Hall’s creations is her photography. She uses a digital Super 8 camera while on the slopes, mainly for the camera’s compact, palm-sized shape and for the raw, vintage style of photos it produces.
Each image chosen for her jacket designs represents a different regional ski resort, and often a memorable day on the slopes for Hall. The image titled “Tram Face,” taken at Squaw Valley, shows the iconic lift as she captured it while racing boardercross in the Rahlves Banzai Tour; the sleeves of the jacket feature the diamond-plate pattern from the tram’s floor. Her “Unity” jacket shows the shadows of her and her roommate, a skier, riding the chair.
“I want my jackets to be for everyone — skiers, snowboarders, unisex,” Hall says. “You won’t ever see models in my jackets for promotion; I want anyone to be able to see themselves in it.”
While Hall’s design aesthetic is loose, she is meticulous about function and seeks out mindful, sustainable production. She sourced waterproof fabric from a U.S. company that acquires Gore-Tex scraps from large brands like Patagonia. She found a textile printer, also U.S.-based, that uses an environmentally friendly process called AirDye. And then she collaborated with Truckee seamstress Anne Henry from Mountain Honey Stitchery to bring her design ideas to fruition. The end result is a fully waterproof, three-ply jacket with pit zips, fully taped seams, an adjustable drawstring hood, French cuffs, and a front zipper plus snaps. Each jacket, $450, is custom sewed with your pockets of choice upon order.
Nolan Apparel — Brandon Douglas
If there were a prodigy of the Tahoe-crafted tribe, it could very well be Brandon Douglas, founder of Nolan Apparel. The 23-year-old started sewing just two years ago and already has an impressive line of clothing, ski mittens, and other action sport-inspired accessories. His trademark is his mittens, born out of necessity when he needed a new pair of ski gloves but didn’t have enough money to buy them.
“I didn’t like what other companies were offering, so I thought it’d be cool to make my own,” Douglas says of this first pair. Now his waterproof mittens in Southwest patterns fill the shelves at his Truckee storefront on Church Street, which opened this past November. The mittens feature a durable water repellent fabric, polar fleece lining, cuff cinch, and polyurethane palm and thumb. Selling for $55 a piece, they’re a steal for being handmade in Truckee.
Douglas sews and lives in the rental space where he’s set up shop. The clean, welcoming interior of his store showcases his designs, including button-down shirts in funky fabrics, fanny packs, scarves, custom balaclavas for riding that feature pockets and retro-style fabrics, and of course the piece that started it all — mittens.
Local Knits — Ethan Rollins
Ethan Rollins, 24, is another success story from Sierra Nevada College. Graduating this month with a degree in entrepreneurship and design, Rollins has already put his learning well into practice with his Local Knits brand, now in its third year of production. Unlike Hall, who’s made good use of outsourcing, Rollins is an entirely one-man operation, making his beanies, neck gaiters, modified hoodies, screen-printed and yarn-embellished shirts, and snap-back hats all on his own.
Rollins begins each Local Knits beanie on a hand-cranked loom that he rigged a motor onto; he then stamps leather logo tags with a branding iron he made from scrap metal, and pounds it with rivets into each beanie. If you find one of Rollins’ beanies at a local retailer, look for his product tags — he pecked out the lettering on a vintage typewriter and silkscreened the logo himself.
“I build things; I like to put things together and create things with my hands,“ Rollins says. “I look at the company as a creative outlet.” Rollins’ outlet, though, has turned into quite the side job, and he is producing 80 pieces of apparel in a good month.
The Future of Local Apparel
Hall, Rollins, and Douglas each have further aspirations for their businesses. Hall says bikinis with snowsports imagery are next for her. Douglas is currently working on sewing his first pair of snow pants, and eventually wants to make other outerwear.
Rollins hopes to continue Local Knits after graduation and “let it take its own course.” He’s interested in expanding his line of soft outerwear — like his customized hoodies with neck gaiters built in — and perhaps spreading the local concept to other communities. “It’d be cool to see it as chapters,” Rollins says. “As in Local Knits Vermont, Local Knits Mammoth … every town has its own culture.”
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