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The Associated Press - Rockmount shirts set the fashion in the West

Rockmount shirts set the fashion in the West

Sunday, August 10, 2008

By IVAN MORENO, Associated Press Writer

 

DENVER — 

Its Western shirts have been worn by everyone from Elvis Presley in "Love Me Tender" to Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain."

Actor Clark Gable and singer Bob Dylan also sported Rockmount Ranch Wear shirts, and when the Democratic National Convention rolls around, each member of Colorado's House delegation will have his or her own custom-made shirt.

"The bottom line is, we are unique," said Steve Weil, Rockmount's president and the grandson of 107-year-old Jack A. Weil, the company's founder, fondly known as "Papa Jack."

"We are the last domestic manufacturer of our type of product," Steve Weil said.

Rockmount is a family-owned business that has stayed competitive in the global market.

Papa Jack was the first to design Western shirts with snap buttons. Their sawtooth pockets and diamond button snaps are the longest-running design in the U.S., Steve Weil said.

"It's been said New York has Barneys and Denver has Rockmount," he said. "We feel we exemplify what's special about Denver, and we get visitors from all over the world."

Weil calls his grandfather the company's "secret weapon." He still goes to work every day and is the oldest CEO in the world.

"He does what he likes and he loves what he does," Steve Weil said. "I liken my grandfather to shirts what Henry Ford is to cars."

Jack Weil was born in Evansville, Ind., and came to Denver in 1928. He founded Rockmount in 1946 and has kept its headquarters in the same brick building on Wazee Street in Denver's Lower Downtown. Belts, cowboy hats, colorful ties and the ever-popular shirts adorn the first floor.

With his 100th birthday, city officials changed the name of Wazee Street to "Jack A. Weil Way," a tribute to the man who put Western fashion on the map in Denver.

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