Just a few months after Vermont-based apparel maker Ibex announced it would shut down, New York investment group Flourfund has purchased the intellectual property and assets.
David Hazan, who heads up the Flourfund, is a marketing specialist. His investment group has bought and re-branded several other companies—Bobcar, Solifornia, Quirky.com, and Peerform.
Hazan told Snews that he plans to focus on building Ibex’s direct-to-consumer sales, as well as exploring the possibility of licensing the Ibex brand to other “category experts” who can “expand the Ibex product offering.” This essentially means that Flourfund could contract with other manufacturers to make apparel and gear to be sold under the Ibex brand name. Outside reached out to Hazan, but he couldn't provide any information other than confirming that his firm was, in fact, the new owner of Ibex. Ibex founder Ted Manning did not respond to Outside’s request for comment.
The idea that Ibex—a brand loved by many in the outdoors community—might make a comeback is exciting. Founded in Vermont in 1997, Ibex was one of the first companies to import merino to the U.S. Back in December, in an elegy to the recently shuttered brand, Gear Guy Joe Jackson called Ibex “a merino wool pioneer” and opined over the brand’s honest, quality-driven approach to business. “I don’t recall the company using superlative product pitches or gimmicky proprietary space-age technologies,” he wrote. “Every Ibex product I’ve tested—about a dozen, likely more—was soft on the skin and stylishly cut and came with all the moisture-wicking and odor-quashing bonuses of high-end merino wool.”
The brand drew a loyal following for creating no-frills, capable apparel and driving innovation while maintaining its authenticity and small-town roots.
So, should you be optimistic about the revival of one of the country’s original merino apparel brands? Cautiously, perhaps. Details are still vague. Flourfund has little experience and no current holdings in the outdoor space. Besides, the track record for small brands getting bought by investment groups doesn't inspire confidence. Apparel brand Cloudveil, which was founded by two skiers in Jackson, Wyoming, faded from the outdoor industry after it was sold to an investment group in 2010. “Cloudveil still exists, but a mass-market strategy and a symbolic move from Jackson to New Jersey have taken a toll on its prestige,” editor Chris Keyes wrote in 2015.
It's too soon to tell where Ibex is headed, but we'll update the story as more details emerge.