2013 was a hell of a year for Topo Designs. In the last twelve months, cofounders Jedd Rose and Mark Hansen have more than doubled their label’s product line-up with the addition of a wide range of men’s apparel and accessories. They’ve also participated in a handful of high-profile collaborations, launched a second label, OYO Mountain, and opened their first brick and mortar storefront. Though still primarily known for tough yet affordable, retro-inspired portage, Topo is officially becoming a full-fledged outdoor company, and a great one at that.
Cofounder Jedd Rose recently took some time out to answer a few questions through email. Here’s what he had to say.
Well Spent: You started with just bags, now you’ve got pants, shorts, shirts, tees, outerwear, and a slew of other stuff. Was apparel always part of the plan?
Jedd Rose: Yeah, we’ve gone head to toe with Topo, which I’d say has always been a desire of ours. Our goal is to design things we would want to have on a long trip around the world. Multifunctional pieces that fit every need and work in (almost) every situation.
Is everything still made in Colorado?
Almost everything we offer is still made in Colorado. We have a few accessory pieces that are made elsewhere in the US (hats, tees, etc.), but with our core products we like to work with our friends and neighbors here in CO and be very hands on with the process.
Not too long ago, you collaborated with Woolrich on a set of bags, which were your first non-nylon offerings. Are there plans to do any more non-nylon bags in the future?
We definitely loved the pieces we did with Woolrich and I think that was a great spin on how we normally approach our fabrics and design. We’re always interested in new and different fabrics, colors, etc., so yeah, I’d say some other materials are definitely a possibility for us.
Last year you launched a second label called Oyo Mountain Products. What was the impetus behind that? How does Oyo differ from Topo?
Ha, yeah, Oyo has been a really fun project for us. The goal behind Oyo was to have a space that we could experiment in and try out concepts that may not fit squarely within the Topo brand. We’ll continue to use it as a bit of an idea playground; just have fun and let it grow organically.
You recently opened your first brick and mortar store in Denver, CO. What led to that decision? How has the reaction been so far? What other brands are you carrying?
We have always been very interested in cool, local outdoor stores, and discovering new products and brands in those places, so that was a big part of the desire to open our own store here in Denver. We decided to take the plunge this year mostly because of the opportunity to be part of a reclaimed shipping container development. We’ve always been fans of the idea and aesthetic behind those projects, and there’s a great group of tenants in the complex, so it just felt like everything lined up at the right time. We’re carrying a great mix of brands from folks we’ve become friends with in the industry, as well as products that fit squarely into the well designed outdoor aesthetic we like here at Topo. Snow Peak, Juniper Ridge, Randolph Engineering, Sven Saw, just to name a few.
It seems like Denver is becoming something of a menswear / makers mecca. Why do you think that is?
Yeah, it’s been a great few years for the Denver scene. It’s an amazing place to live, and a lot of really talented folks have been moving here. It’s become a much more diverse community, so different types of brands / stores are able to thrive. It’s also very supportive. People really love to buy local and get to know the people behind the products, so that makes it an especially great place to be a “maker” or local business owner.
Of all the new offerings you’ve got lined up for 2014, which are you most excited about, and when can we expect to get our hands on them?
We’re definitely excited to keep expanding the Topo line this year. We’ll be introducing lots of new apparel pieces, as well as new bags and accessories, all of which will start rolling out this spring.
For price and purchase info, visit Topo Designs.