If you were around in the 70s you might already be familiar with the Rock Mountain brand. Maybe you had a vest back in the days and still use it today, or you might have been one of those who really badly wanted to own one and tried to save up the money to afford it! No matter what, the garments made by Rocky Mountain had a great reputation back in the 60s and 70s and today, almost sixty years later, these garments have really showed us that they deserved it!
The Rocky Mountain Featherbed brand was founded in the late 1960's in Jackson Hole, Wyoming USA. This low-lying valley surrounded by mountains with rivers and streams was first settled by Native Americans, followed by fur trappers in the 19th century. The area became known for it's outdoor activities and later the region also became a tourist attraction in the middle of the 20th century, contributing to Wyoming being nicknamed "The cowboy state".
The Rocky Mountain Featherbed brand was created as a modern interpretation of the classical western wear. Elements of traditional western style such as leather yoke and snap buttons were mixed with contemporary high-tech materials to make garments for the modern cowboy, intended to be functional and protective when worn in the Wyoming wilderness. As you can imagine the brand and the lifestyle that came with it was easy to absorb, no matter if you actually lived in the small town of Jackson Hole or strolled the streets in a major city. The Rocky Mountain garments embodied the American dream and the brand was soon sought after in other countries such as Sweden and Switzerland, and I would expect that most European countries had a decent distribution for the brand back in the late 1970s.
Unfortunately, the history of the brand came to an end in the late 80s. Im not sure why they discontinued their production but I suspect that the Rocky Mountain style didn't work well with the 80s fashion for outdoor and ski clothes and that competition with brands that moved their production overseas proved to be a hard blow for a brand that was all about "made in the US".
What if they knew back then that the products they made in the 60s/70s would become iconic pieces and later brought back to life in the hands of the Japanese brand 35 Summers Co that started a line of Rocky Mountain Featherbead reproduction in 2005! Today we are thankful that they saved the value of the brand's original traditions in order to make the Rocky Mountain live longer in a time where people appreciate well made products. We hope that this will continue for many more decades to come!
So, it's time to tell the story about this particular vest. One part of our daily routine is a visit to the local post office to drop of packages, and on the way back we pass by a local thrift-store. Popping in to see if they have something of interest is always a fun opportunity!
Through the years I have actually found some interesting vintage garments in that store, among them a red nylon Rocky Mountain vest and a gore tex jacket of the same brand but I was quite surprised this day to find a vintage leather version of the vest. The best way to spot a vintage Rocky Mountain garment is to look for the leather yoke, no matter if it's a puffer vest or a jacket the yoke has the iconic design that has become synonymous with the brand.
It is said that the yoke construction that is shaped out of a single piece of leather is inspired by the leather capes worn by the Native Americans. In this particular case, the shape of the points of the yoke also tells us that this vest was made for the women's line. In difference from the mens vest the shape is more pointy in the back and at the front this vest has three points, were the mens version has only two.
In the neck of a vintage Rocky Mountain garment you will find a label with the text "Rocky Mountain Featherbead co Jackson, Wyoming" stamped on a piece of cow leather with eight edges. Sometimes the text will not be as easy to read as it is on this particular one, but the shape of the label will tell you that it is a Rocky Mountain garment that you are holding and looking closely you will most likely see traces of the stamped logo somewhere in the leather.
The back of the label has some kind of serial number stamped on it, but I don't know what it could have been used for. You can also see that the previous owner of the vest made sure to write her name on it with ink. One can imagine that this vest ment a lot to her and that it was the kind of garment that you hoped would find it's way back home if you lost it for some reason.
The snap buttons are of great quality and not a single one of them has come loose or stopped snapping after all these years. As I mentioned in previous posts the snap button became synonymous with western garments as a solution for a button that could unbutton itself if needed, a detail that could be the difference between life and death when participating in a rodeo competition.
One can also see the usefulness of the button when it comes to outdoor clothes or ski clothes where one surely could end up in a situation where the need to get out of the garment quickly could arise. But let's not forget to talk about the aesthetic value and the beauty it adds to the garment as well! The mouton versions of the vest with it's fur collar has the pearl buttons while the simpler version with a nylon collar has unbranded round snap-buttons made of brass.
The two hand warmer front pockets are stitched on top of the padded vest and shaped to be functional and easy to access.
The pocket itself is also padded with down to make sure that it will keep the wearers hands warm. The inside of the pocket is made of nylon, and unlike the nylon versions of the vest this one only has a single compartment where the nylon version has two and one of them can be closed using velcro. Im not sure if this difference is because of the all leather version or because the fact that this is a women's vest but I bet that somebody out there has a good answer to that! Please give me a shout in the comments and I will make sure to edit this section later on.
The shape of the back yoke that has a slightly longer point than the mens version.
The side of the vest is cut to follow the shape of the body and give it's wearer freedom to move.
The inside of the vest is made of sturdy nylon and it also has a zipped inner pocket. Once again we can see that it's previous owner decided to put a tag with her name and telephone number inside the vest. This is not a common practice today but on the other hand this very special vest most likely meant the world to its owner when it was first bought back in the 70s and given that it's the all leather version it wasn't the cheapest alternative back in the days either.
Width - 50 cm
Length - 60 cm
It's been a while since we last wrote about a garment from our archive but if you appreciate these blog post and would like to reed more about vintage garments that we have in our collection you can read about a pair of vintage Levi's big E jeans by following this link.
We will also do our best to keep up the writing because we still have garments tucked away in our store that we would like to share with any one who might be interested.