Every committed hiker has had some frustrations with gear, be it socks that chafed or boots that started to fall apart before the summit. Not everyone follows through with resolutions made back at the trailhead to come better equipped next time. But Tom Chappell, best known (for now) as the co-founder of Tom’s of Maine? This formerly frustrated hiker built a whole company to fix that gear problem. And also, with an eye toward reinvigorating America’s flagging apparel industry, sustainably.
He’d taken a two-week-long trek through Wales in 2008 with his son Matt, now the owner of Gather restaurant in Yarmouth, during which he felt let down by his high-tech hiking garments. They weren’t sufficiently warm, didn’t stay dry and quite frankly, didn’t smell so good. Within weeks of his return he had purchased a spinning machine to experiment with wool fibers at home and was researching making lifestyle clothing in the United States, with natural, sustainably milled and manufactured fabrics.
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