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Failure Of A Copy Twice By The Same Company

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The “Spring 2005” newsletter details an imitation sleeping bag manufactured in China that simulated a Lamilite laminated sleeping bag made by Wiggy’s. While the marketing company, Mountain Hardwear (MH), gave the Chinese factory the materials and manufacturing method the end result was a sleeping bag that looked like a Wiggy’s bag but that is as far as the similarity went. MH also went as far as naming the bag line “Lamina”. When I saw the product I bought two of them and saw all of the problems that existed with them. It needn’t have been that way since I approached the owner of the company several years before offering to private label my bags for MH. He obviously turned down the offer. This first attempt at copying me was a totally successful failure and the bag line ended I believe in one season. The company was sold to Columbia Sportswear and his replacement decided to resurrect the bag with a different insulation using the same method of manufacturing also in China. It has taken two or three seasons to fail.

The new insulation was chopped staple fiber. This obviously showed how little knowledge he has of synthetic fiber used for insulation. It was simply a matter of time before the true nature of these bags would show up.
I know the bag line has come to the end of its life since I saw them advertised on the Sierra Trading Post web site. Whenever any of the companies serving the outdoor market place have a product that is no longer selling through their normal distribution of outdoor shops they dump the merchandise to Sierra Trading Post. They might get paid $.20 on the dollar. Then of course none of the high priced outdoor shops will ever buy the item again.

This is one more example of people in the outdoor industry turning a blind eye to knowledge. I gave them all the opportunity to have Lamilite but the refused, so now they are suffering financial losses. However, it will not make a difference to them as they will next season come out with an improved bag. The high end retailers will suck up and buy some only to see these new bags fail. Oh well.

MADE IN AMERICA?

A few months after the tragedy of 9/11 I received a call from the Border Patrol office in Washington, D.C. The caller told me that they would need extreme cold weather coats and bibs for the agents that patrolled the northern boarder of the USA. He also told me that they were using my parkas because the Alaskan office the Boarder patrol used then and told Washington not to go any place else. Therefore, I was to be the sole source supplier. However, they were going to buy them through a company called VF Solutions who was a current supplier of clothing items. VF Solutions (VFS) is a division of VF Corporation who also owns The North Face Company.

My relations ship with VFS lasted about three years. At the outset of the third year they sent to me a number of Boarder Patrol patches to be placed on the sleeve and we made several parkas based upon the sizes we were previously selling. For an unknown reason they stopped ordering my parkas. I then removed the patches and sold the parkas at a reduced price.

I very recently received an e mail from a fellow employed by Customs and Boarder Protection. He told me that the weather changed where he is to cold weather and the parka he was issued was a North Face parka. He saw a veteran with one of mine and said it was significantly better than the issue he had. He wanted to know if he could get one of mine as I used to make and I told him that was not a problem.

What I found most interesting in his e mail was the following comment by another officer. “He told me of your companies struggles with VF Solutions and that you stopped the coat due to this.” My response to him was “That is an absolute lie.” I now know why VFS stopped buying from me, it was so they could run the business through a sister company. Of course the sister company The North Face doesn’t own a sewing machine in the USA so all the garments were probably made in China where they make everything else they sell. So much for the politicians wanting product made in America. Then there is the Berry Amendment that specifies all textile products the government buys have to be USA made. If it is good for the military why not the Boarder Patrol? The politicians who want to increase work in the USA are a joke as far as I am concerned.  

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