Interview with Will Watters, Co-Founder of Western Rise

With reviews slowing a bit since we are not going into the office still, we thought we’d pick some of our favorite brands to interview about how they are doing and what they are looking forward to for 2021. Enjoy our first interview with Will Watters, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Western Rise.

2020 was a wild year for most companies, was there any product in your lineup that started flying out the door once lockdowns started?
I can’t say that one product began flying off of the shelves, but we did see an increase in demand for our pants with our Spectrum Joggers being a top new performer.

Following up on that, was there any product you were surprised did not start flying out the door for lockdown life?
Not surprisingly, our more formal button down options experienced a decline in sales. 

One thing we’ve always appreciated about Western Rise clothing is that it is not just another brand sewing up the same fabric from the same mills. Can you give us some insight into how you develop new fabrics?
Thank you! Our process is a bit different from most brands. We typically start with trying to solve a specific problem. We typically try and find the perfect fabric first as starting from the yarn level can create far longer lead times. We typically scour fabric shows both in the USA and Europe, searching both at performance shows and fashion shows seeking to find fabrics that live between fashion and performance while meeting our needs. If we can’t find a fabric that solves the specific problem we are seeking solve, we typically work with our existing partners and their yarn suppliers to help develop something completely new and different. Right now our fabrics come from our amazing mill partners in the USA, Europe, and Asia and are shipped to our factory partners in those various regions to create the finished garments.

Heading into 2021 and beyond there’s a debate with seemingly equal parts of people on either side. Either you think people will rebel against the loungewear they got used to wearing and start a more formal wardrobe, or the other side being that you think people will not settle for going back to uncomfortable clothing. Where do y’all see this trend going?
I certainly don’t think comfort is going away. I think it has just been added as a new baseline for clothing. Our theory when we started Western Rise was that Performance and Style did not need to be mutually exclusive. We create garments that perform better than your outdoor or athletic clothing, with a sophisticated style that allows for everyday wear. Our belief is that comfort has just been added to that equation. With modern fabrics and construction technologies, clothing must be comfortable, it must perform, and it must be styled to be worn in the broadest wear spectrum possible. It’s time to embrace comfort, but do it in style.

Part of 2021 is that the incoming USA administration is very focused on climate change, and as a Climate Neutral Certified brand, do you see more changes coming to your business and mindsets to point you in different clothing directions?
At Western Rise, we have been mindful of our impact since we began. Climate Neutral really just gave us a tool to measure that impact more effectively. From the yarns we choose to the garments we design, to the location of our mills and our garment factories, we always consider impact. Our supply chain isn’t perfect, and it probably never will be, but Climate Neutral allows us to measure how we are performing, make changes to improve that score, and offset what we are not able to improve with carbon offsets. We hope to see more brands join in that pledge in 2021. 

How do you look at staying on trend, while not creating fast-fashion and waste?
We don’t chase trends. We strive to create clothing that is seasonless and timeless. The world doesn’t need another fashion brand and most certainly doesn’t need more clothing. Our goal is to flip the fashion paradigm. Instead of buying more garments and using them less than ever, filling closets and creating waste, we seek to re-create the timeless, essential garments in every guy’s closet using the world’s best high performance fabrics allowing him to own less, carry less, and experience more.

What are you most excited for in 2021?
Travel. Travel not only broadens our perceptions and view of the world, but it allows us to meet in-person with our suppliers, mills, and garment factories. Creating garments is such a hands-on business and I cannot wait to get back to doing it in-person. Travel also pushes us to consider why each garment exists in our line. The constraints of needing to pack in one small carry-on bag really highlights the most-versatile styles. Each new climate or destination presents a new challenge and really guides our thoughts on what pieces should exist in our line and where opportunities exist.

Last question: all the performance pants out there wear quite slim, but the fashion watchers say pants are going more relaxed — what do you think?
Fit is constantly changing. While I don’t prefer ultra-slim fitting pants, I do prefer creating pants that fit correctly. Maximum Versatility is always our North Star as we design products. Choosing a fit that flatters the body, can be dressed up or down, and allows the body to move will always be the most versatile. I do think the fashion landscape will trend a bit wider than it has in 2021 due to the demand for more comfort. If a brand is not using fabrics with a high stretch content, the only way to maintain comfort is to widen the fit. 

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Interview with Will Watters, Co-Founder of Western Rise