Fishing, Hiking and Fashion: Two Alaska entrepreneurs take on the outdoor clothing industry

Published: May. 31, 2018 at 7:31 PM AKDT
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Two Alaskan entrepreneurs are taking on the fashion industry. Combining the funky with functional, the Alpine Fit and FisheWear companies are creating outdoor ensembles that break the traditional rules of fashion.

"I've worked in the apparel industry for over 10 years, so I'm kind of just combining my career, my passion for the outdoors with features that I know will hopefully work for other people too," Jennifer Loofbourrow said from inside her small industrial space serving as headquarters for Alpine Fit.

Loofbourrow is the brains behind the operation, and its sole employee at this point. She's using her sense of adventure, inspired by countless days of exploring to "sniff out" something new for her clothing line. "You can wear your top for maybe a week straight and not have that BO smell," she said.

Loofbourrow worked with a company in California to specifically design her high-tech fabric made with silver inside. "We're using very advanced technical fabrics to achieve things like anti-odor performance so you can wear your products outdoors for extended periods of time and not have too much of an odor issue going on," Loofbourrow says.

"I also want to give people buying choices in line with their value systems so I'm sourcing my materials in the U.S." Alpine Fit is still in the development stage, but Loofbuorrow plans to grow the company, and to keep it in Alaska.

"We can produce things here, create jobs here, and educate or give opportunities to young Alaskans trying to figure out what they want their career to be."

A few blocks away, Fishewear (the e in Fishe is silent) is making a splash with its bold and bright attire.

"We're always looking to kind of reinvent and put color and pattern where it hasn't been before," owner Linda Leary said.

Leary is right — it doesn't take much looking around on the banks of the river to see there's not a lot of pop in fishing fashion."The idea came from fishing with a bunch of my girlfriends out on the river, many rivers actually and talking about the lack of fun clothing 'cause most of it was either all over green or gray or black, and it was no color," Leary said.

Fishewear launched three years ago, with many of its products made in America, "to get women out into the outdoors so they want to go fishing and go out and enjoy the community of other women," according to Leary.

She says the apparel is designed to go from grocery shopping to casting lines. "What's most rewarding is when you get women thanking you for doing it and they're just so excited they finally have some things for them to wear and they can enjoy it and they can have fun with it and feel confident and it's comfortable and it fits them," Leary said. "It's technical and not just a cute, fun pattern."