Kurt Gray


Sewing Isn’t Rocket Science

Second Hand Stoke

It’s a Bag World

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Digitizing Human Perception

Our senses are closely intertwined with textiles. Color, sound, touch, feel, and in some cases, smell, are all part of the judgments we make about fabrics. It is ingrained in us, from home quilter to big time production manager, to see and touch the fabrics we buy.

Outdoor Retailer Bounces Back

Outdoor Retailer, which many in the industry considered languishing, surprisingly bounced back during its last performance in Denver. The aisles were full of an upbeat younger crowd wearing tee shirts with canvas shorts and tapered pants.

Dancing with a Small Batch Factory

With the recent interest in reshoring amidst the never ending perturbations in the supply chain, both brands and retailers are turning to smaller local factories for a reliable source of sewn goods. This brings people with too little, or too much, manufacturing experience into...

Notes from the OR Show

The Outdoor Retailer Show took place in a scaled down version in Denver last week. With several major brands choosing not to attend, the show was quiet (not only on the footwear side). Our correspondent Kurt Gray filed this report from the show.

Digital Landscape

Recently I’ve been in touch with a couple of groups that are interested in supporting small batch sewing. One group is academically oriented and the other economically inclined, but they both have the same line of questioning, “Are there any jobs to be had?” I answer as I always do...

Picking Teams

Remember in high school gym class going through the ritual of choosing sides to play some semi-violent sport? We all lined up and the teams were picked by captains who usually called out the biggest, fastest and most athletically gifted kids first, leaving the rest of us to essentially act as...

Sustainability = Usefulness

I once sold a tent to a middle-age woman. After careful consideration and obvious consternation, she arrived at an expensive and extremely well made choice. With the high-tech shelter rolled up snug in its stuff sack on the counter between us, she sighed and said something...

The End of Seasons

It is a misconception that not shipping goods to a retailer results in a net zero for both sides. “We don’t ship and they don’t pay” was the mantra when I worked at one lowbrow outdoor company. However, the economic truth is a much different story.

Reshoring the Sewn Goods Industry

A Colorado internet business magazine recently featured an editorial about the need to bring American sewing jobs back, no matter how difficult the task. In response to the article, I emailed the editor, a friendly colleague, outlining my view from the trenches. Here’s what I wrote...

Dressing Like an Onion

​Today’s internet educated consumers come into specialty stores with all kinds of media and marketing lingo in their heads about staying warm outdoors through the use of a specific brand or fiber or technology.

The New Outdoorist

A long time ago I was working with European outdoor apparel design teams that wanted to define their work through the eyes of the end user. We used two basic groups to represent the differing points of view and referred to them as the recreationist and the enthusiast.

Sewing as Performance Art

This past summer I made little bags under a tent on a breezy street in Telluride, Colorado. Now, I’m sewing miniature bags under a tent on the central plaza in downtown Montrose. It is our local Farmers’ Holiday Market with our small spot nestled between a family selling Angus beef and...

The New Wave

Gather around old timers. Remember the backpacking boom of the early 1980s? Those exciting days when the intersection of army surplus DEET, Chinese made sleeping bags and freeze-dried food allowed a diaspora of young people to go off into the wilderness and wander about for days at a time.

Outdoor Bubble

Jon is the manager of a famous mountain shop in southwest Colorado. He explained to me that with newly reduced hours and a limited number of customers allowed inside his shop at one time, the store was crushing previous sales records.

Textiles on the Trail

I don’t know what your trailhead parking lots look like, but here in Colorado ours are packed full, like Fourth of July full, every day of the week. In this state if you’re not at work or drinking expensive craft beer, you go outside. The pandemic favored the latter and combined with...

Post Lockdown Vagabonds

Recently I penned this letter to my governor; the textile industry might find it of interest as well: Dear State of Colorado,Without being histrionic, I think we should consider that this coming summer could be the biggest Colorado tourist travel season in history, by far...

Insulated Reality

Insulation in the classic sense is the sum of two parts: dead air space and some kind of substance that creates little voids where motionless air rests.

Online Opens the Door for Trusted Textiles

It comes as no surprise that the list of recent store closures is populated with apparel retailers. These stalwart merchants have satisfied thousands of customers who throughout the year perused their racks, used their dressing rooms, and showed up at their sales events.

Old Carbon

I follow an outdoor journalist whom I admire. The writing is personal, fluid and often deals with the emerging dilemmas facing a climate conscious outdoorsperson and adventurer. Chronicled are changes in diet, personal consumption and professional travel.

Out of Sync

They moved the trade show again. Pushed back another month, the Outdoor Industry’s big powwow now asks buyers to purchase a summer season’s worth of product without any idea of what worked for them the summer before.