Avon hat designer "lets the people hijak" his brand
Vail CO, Colorado
Avon resident Brock Hovey became a fashion designer, in part, because of a jam band.
In the summer of 2004, Hovey wanted to tour around the west with the Colorado band The String Cheese Incident, but he needed money to pay for the trip.
“I didn’t want to participate in illegal activities to make that money so I decided to build a hat,” he said. “I brought that hat with me and sold them at shows.”
Adorned with the String Cheese Incident symbol ” a ped-Xing sign with a hula hoop circling the walker’s waist ” the hat financed a successful, if short-lived, little business.
“I was asked to stop making those hats because they were competing with (the band’s) merch. table, so I stopped,” Hovey said.
The String Cheese Incident hat marked an unusual beginning to an unusual fashion career.
About three years ago, Hovey was living in Jackson Hole, Wyo. when he met fellow skier Tommie Williams.
“He and I were just talking about how we were kind of sick of all the clothing companies printing their name and their mark all over their clothing,” Hovey said.
Hovey and Williams launched a clothing company called Dedicate in an effort to buck the corporate trend. Their first trucker hat, tailored to the Jackson Hole market, featured a cowboy riding a bucking bronco and the number 22, which stood for a local highway. Dedicate confined its logos to the inside of the hats.
“I think the most important thing about Dedicate is, ultimately it’s always been about creating a product that represents who you are and not who we are, you know?” Williams said.
Here in Colorado, the most popular hats feature the red Colorado “C” from the state flag. A royal blue trucker hat adorned with the “C” is the best selling item on Lionshead clothing boutique Arriesgado’s Web site, owner Cabal Yarne said. Arriesgado started carrying three of Hovey’s hats this past summer.
“I saw a lot of my friends wearing them,” Yarne said. “I knew there was a demand for them.”
For Hovey and Williams, launching a clothing company served as a crash course in fashion.
Hovey, 25, studied business at University of Colorado at Boulder, but he never received formal training in fashion.
Williams, 34, is a Brooklyn filmmaker who once sold his T-shirts to fund a surf trip to Mexico.
“My grandmother was a big fashion designer for Broadway shows and she dabbled in hats,” he said. “That was sort of a eureka moment for me because I grew up with all these illustrations around the house. There’s a Bible-sized book of all the work she’s done in New York.”
Williams and Hovey design hats using Photoshop on their home computers. Williams traveled to China to set up production at a factory outside Shanghai.
When it comes to marketing their hats, the pair abide by an unusual philosophy.
“We don’t advertise,” Hovey said. “We don’t have stickers. We’re trying to let the people hijack our brand.”
Dedicate’s hats are sold at Arriesgado, Get Hi Gallery in Eagle-Vail and The Den in Edwards. Nationwide, Hovey said boutiques in six states carry the hats. Recently, Jackson Hole Resort asked Hovey to design 500 hats to sell at the opening for the mountain’s new tram.
With the hat market steadily growing, Hovey plans to start selling silk bandanas adorned with the Colorado “C” to use as face masks for skiing. Ultimately, he and Williams hope to attract investors so they can start producing their clothes in the United States.
“The No. 1 goal has always been to make things in the U.S,” Williams said. “It’s really tough. I have sources in New York. I have sources in L.A. The more that I work, within both groups, you realize that it really has become impossible to produce in the U.S. We’re trying to buck that trend.”
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.