AURORA, Colo. — In Colorado, we are independent and adventurous, and that spirit is seen in our fashion.
People who live here dress for comfort, function and style — ready for whatever the day brings.
We're in good company with a locally made jacket designed for our active lives and desire to be unique.
One look at a Vander Jacket, and you know exactly where it came from.
“So, I sign all my jackets because they're originals,” said Vander Jacket founder Sarah Vander Neut. “That's [number] 854 with my signature” she said, pointing to the inside lining of one of her jackets.
Vander Neut formats, cuts, and sews each of her hand-crafted jackets in a studio at her Aurora home.
“I’ve made my jackets out of remnants that I’ve found that are unused,” she said. “Excess [fabric] that gear companies bring into the area, and they brought in too much. And I’ll get wind of it. I'll buy their excess and make jackets from that.”
The end result is an unmistakable look. The bright colors, rounded pockets, and material blend were initially made for runners.
But she admits her customers are also cyclists, hikers, climbers, even dog-walkers and coffee-drinkers. And a jacket is essential for all of it in Colorado.
“We want to be able to go for a hike in the morning and come down and go to a brewery and enjoy the evening with our friends.”
She sources all of the fabric locally and creates a functional, fashionable work of art. She combines vintage polyester with more modern wear.
“I like to mix the two together,” Vander Neut said. “The vintage and the technical, get a really unique look, and really unique product. “It’s warm, it wicks sweat.”
You can also customize your own jacket. Two times a year, Vander Neut sets appointments to create something especially for you.
“I have a template with my design and my function options,” Vander Neut said. “[The customer] can just check the boxes and pick out the fabric and get a jacket that's truly original, no one else will have it, all local fabric, all local made, for them.”
She’s outfitting Colorado’s most avid fans with an inherited layer of attitude from an often-forgotten industry.
“We can do apparel manufacturing here, and we need to bring it back,” Vander Neut said. “There are skilled workers here, and they're very good.”
Vander Jacket just celebrated its 900th design after nearly nine years in business. You can find the jackets at Feral Mountain Co. in Denver, Active Imprints in Boulder, or various runners’ expos, in addition to the Vander Jacket website.
If you'd like to see the other companies featured in this segment, download the Denver7 app on your streaming device and scroll down to "In Good Company.”