A Regional Expedition in Design and Manufacturing
This journey begins at the factory floor of Crescent Down Works while reviewing the details of our first season’s custom orders; as we are always looking for inspiration and pushing the boundaries of production, this is a good starting place for the Northwest Pack story. In discussion of production capabilities with Annie Michelson and Nora Strang, a force within the small brain-trust of CDW, and after scouring through several fabric stacks (as we tend to do when we’re in factories) a brilliant blanket-style material was revealed. We were remarking about the possibilities of this fabric when without a word Nora pulled out a pattern-matched vest: a light bulb flashed. Beyond the amazing textile quality and the subsequent myriad design possibilities whizzing through our minds, one thing stood out with this blanket fabric, perfectly constructed into a down 301 vest: the pattern matching was phenomenal. It allowed the vest to be more than a mere garment and stand as something that could be hung on a wall, and live slightly beyond outerwear as functional art.
After full query, and already mindful of doing something special for our launch, the decision was made that an exclusive patterned Crescent Down Works piece had to be done. First step: find the fabric, which obviously meant going down to Portland, Oregon to Pendleton Woolen Mills for material that would attest to Nora’s faculty, correspond with Division Road, and stand on its own as a signature piece. As suckers for the intricate craftsmanship of Native Patterns, that’s where we began the search within Pendleton’s mill. The color palette and composition had to be correct and exude a directional heritage vibe. After a full search into the woolen stacks and role racks an amazing Rancho Arroyo 20 oz. Jacquard stood out amongst the rest. The grey background with complementary blacks, creams, charcoal, tan, camel and rust coupled with expertly delineated patterning clearly had Division Road and the character of the Northwest interwoven into its composition.
Once we found the perfect fabric for a Crescent Down Works piece, our mission evolved then and there on the factory shop floor, visions and considerations about other items we could create began to come forth. Knowing we had acquired the signature and thematic base, we endeavored to find corresponding fabrics that played off of the Arroyo. Color matching almost every solid on the floor we found an off-dye lot 18 oz. Grey Eco-Wise Wool, and one of our favorite woolens, a 24oz. Black Melton, to pull in the most basic colors of the Native-inspired Jacquard. What we were to do with these latter roles of fabric was not yet determined, but we had the material so to the design desk we went.
We brought the fabric to Crescent Down Works and conceptualized the different patterns that would correspond with our inspiration and material. Knowing a vest was in order, we agreed on the Crescent Down Works original NW Vest, generated during their founding in 1974. Our point of view always originates with a focus on the heritage of our brands and we want our exclusive products to communicate this fact. It was important, then, that the entire collection as yet to be produced would appropriately leverage this view of re-envisioned legacy. The NW Vest with its front curved hem and pockets needed a little something so we updated it with a wind flap snapped placket, custom brass hardware and two-way zipper and brought in the 60/40 cloth as the lining. After a review on the factory floor we were all pleased with what we knew would be both a show stopper and a signal of the return to simple and functional heritage basics infused with a sense of luxury.
Already designing custom fabric caps with Ebbets Field, we made the simple connection between complementing a piece of outerwear produced down the street with some hats made around the corner. These had to be different and just throwing a bit of amazing material on a cap was not good enough. While always on the lookout for good camel colors, and struck with the representation in the Rancho Arroyo, yet another search began for the perfect camel color felt for our monogram logo. After much ado, sample ordering, and some frustration we found a beautiful 100% wool felt in the perfect camel shade, and being so pleased with the discovery we doubled down on designing two Ebbets Field Flannel caps. While we are partial to baseball caps being fitted, we decided to utilize the Black Melton Wool on a classic adjustable design and the Heather Grey Eco-Wise on a fitted style utilizing our newly found camel felt logo in classic Ebbets style.
On a separate factory visit to Dehen 1920, another concept emerged as we were reviewing a custom exclusive for Fall/Winter. We filled in Nathanial Crissman and Jim Artiaz about the vest and caps and our idea of producing a completely Northwest manufacturer-focused capsule collection for the Division Road launch. We all immediately made the simple yet absolutely necessary connection of vest to overshirt and started designing a Crissman right then and there. Small adaptations with the hardware, buttons and lining were all that were necessary to take advantage of the Black Melton as a solid base garment to the heavily patterned Arroyo vest. An objective when we create goods is that they stand on their own while simultaneously relating back to an outfit, story, or the season as a whole, thus we knew we had the elements of a small capsule that would not be complete without the foundational element: footwear.
As a Northwest manufacturer with a logging industry heritage the connection was obvious, and enlisting our good friends of the Great White North at Viberg to do a style that provided the substance desired for what became the Northwest Pack capsule collection was essential. The discussions with Brett Viberg and Guy Ferguson were numerous and plentiful, starting with materials that corresponded to the vest and the rest of the pack’s palette, types of leather, production and detailed specifications. After coming up with a design then scrapping it several times, crunch time was upon us and in three visits, over one week, in New York during Market, we came up with the perfect combination for the NW PACK Boot.
As an important representation of how collectors, loggers, and workman have been customizing their boots, this exclusive run was to be two-tone with Horween’s Natural Chromexcel Roughout on the vamp and counter and Black Chromexcel on the shaft and tongue. Stitchdown, natural midsole, and a Vibram 4014 Christy sole were employed to cross workwear over to the street. On a 2030 last for a slim silhouette and modern profile, and since we were using the Natural CXL on the roughout side, we opted to go with an unstructured toe to commemorate the early days of the new Viberg direction. Brass eyelets with natural and black rawhide laces capped the long list of honed specifications that narrated the story of what we wanted to create and why.
The most important determination of which pattern to adapt for this boot, however, was still in limbo and still much debated. So we ran through Viberg’s workboot history to find the proper heritage reference point for both the Northwest and Viberg. Images of production pieces, samples, and archive styles were being pulled, while Brett was having pieces of each pattern in the Natural and Black Chromexcel cut in the factory to review how it would all come together. At long last we decided that the Bobcat, with a storied history as one of Viberg’s original workboot patterns and the perfect combination between the Scout and Service Boot, looked remarkable. It was another novel pattern from the Ed Viberg days that was still in production, and one of those boots Brett adapted over a decade ago for the early collectors in Japan. In the two-tone leathers it was the distinctive point of view we were looking for. The finishing touch was generated from a suggestion by Guy and Brett to do a custom dust bag out of the Pendleton Rancho Arroyo Wool to bring it all together, which Crescent Down Works promptly put into production.
Months later the pieces of the collection started to emerge, coming together in unison. As we became excited about them as individual parts we were finally able to physically see the end result of these creative partnerships in its entirety. With the addition of the Tanner Goods Brass and Black Geoglyph belt, we had a top to bottom NW PACK that was representative of the region, brand history, production techniques, and Division Road collaborative design principles. We at Division Road like to have each brand stand on its own within their respective spaces and categories of perfection thus we rarely co-label anything, though this was a special endeavor and consequently we had a custom logo developed by Andy Luce so we could bring the pack together. The logo was provided to Tanner Goods and with it they produced a coaster set as a gift with purchase for those who acquire two or more pieces of the NW PACK. The coaster set is a further complement to Copperworks Distillery, collaborating with Division Road via spirits tasting for the launch event and Northwest Pack debut.
To represent the journey of the industrial outdoorsman through seasons and across landscapes while paying homage to the storied heritage of manufacturing in our region, Division Road proudly presents the Northwest Pack. The collection will debut during our Launch Event on October 6th and will be available for purchase on October 7th at 10am PST.