Doug Hoschek is banking on Bendites giving a hoot about where their gear is made.
Hoschek, the man who created Polarfeece, is opening a factory store in the Old Mill Marketplace, next door to Oregon CrossFit and just east of Strictly Organic where he will sell Made in the U.S.A. long underwear, sleeping bags and insulated jackets. He hopes to open by Nov. 1.
The appeal, according to Hoschek is that the products are made in America and cheaper than their off-shore counterparts, often sold by REI and others. According to Hoschek, REI sold his brand of synthetic long underwear for years before opting for an even lower-cost option made in China.
Hoschek said that it's not uncommon for the outdoor industry to look to Asia for manufacturing not only for their cheap labor but also for their relaxed environmental standards—a topis he's recently taken issue with in his new memoir Polar Pollution.
But the bulk of the memoir is Hoschek's disappointment with the migration of textiles and garment manufacturing from the United States to Asia and elsewhere.
Hoschek is convinced the mass exodus of the industry, now dominated by the likes of Nike, Adidas and North Face, was not cemented just because labor and natural resources were cheaper abroad. He argues that the lack of environmental regulation provided a lure for the apparel industry, which both depends heavily on water for production and pollutes water in the process.
"My book is written to expose this pollution for what it is and how it happened," Hoschek said. "The goal of the book (is) to bring back manufacturing of textiles to the USA to create jobs, assure clean textile products and to save the lives of hundreds of thousands ... in China because of water pollution of which a substantial part comes from textile dyeing and textile fiber making of polyester."
The Wiggy's portion of the store comes from the Grand Junction, Colo.-based sleeping bag manufacturer of the same name. Wiggy's uses the same synthetic insulation pioneered by Hoschek. Their bags, made for and used by the military, are certainly competitively priced (as you can tell from the stellar photo below...uh, yeah. sorry about that terrible photo).
The -60* bag shown is priced at $250, which is approx half of what a big-name competitor might charge.