If you think designer collaborations are just for companies like Target and H&M, think again. Late last month, Denver’s Armitage & McMillan launched a line of shibori ball caps. The handmade products—released just in time for the summer festival circuit—are a collaboration with Montana-based lifestyle brand FairEnds and Boulder textile designer Edie Ure.
Why hats? They’ve always been a FairEnds staple, and A&M has stocked the brand’s American-made caps since opening two years ago. Although the two brands had been toying with the idea of a collab for a while, the origins for this one came about when FairEnds co-owner Ben Ferencz (FairEnds is a play on his last name) visited Denver in December 2015 to participate in the Denver Flea with A&M. While here, he was introduced to Ure and learned about her natural dyeing process: She uses natural ingredients and ancient techniques to achieve certain colors and patterns. Ferencz was intrigued, and the group decided to work together on a line of shibori ball caps.
Ure, who studied print and fashion at London art and design college Central St. Martins, relied on an ancient Japanese technique called “itajime shibori” to color the cotton twill from which the caps are made. The process starts with Ure folding a piece of fabric (think: origami-style) and either clamping sections with wood or tying them up. The fabric is then dipped in indigo dye. The more it’s dunked, the darker the indigo becomes; the areas that were tied together or covered by wood clamps remain white. Ure shipped the dyed material to a Los Angeles factory, where the individual lengths of fabric were mixed together to create just 50 caps, with no two alike.
Which is kind of the point: Each hat is a limited-edition, made-by-hand product—precisely the type of item A&M and FairEnds are focused on stocking. Consumers are becoming more and more interested in the person behind their clothing and accessories and how and where they’re produced. Finally, there will be one item in your wardrobe for which you’ll have all those answers.