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Phone:   (303) 629-7777
1-800-7-ROCKMO (776-2566)


bullet The Denver Post: Colorado's Top Movers & Shakers Wear Rockmount at State Fair
bullet AMERICAN COWBOY feature on ROCKMOUNT - Pride of Denver
bullet NEW YORK TIMES "Dabbing the Brow of Cowpoke or CEO Aug. 9, 2012
bullet Rockmount on 9 News
bullet THE DENVER POST Nov. 24, 2011: Three Arrested Credit Card Scam Thanks to Dog & Eagle Eye
bullet Rockmount Awarded Top 50 Family Owned Business
bullet GQ Australia June 2011 - 24 Hours in Denver


bullet The Denver PostDavidson: Rockmount exhibit celebrates a perfect fit

The Denver Post: Rockmount's Western shirts are truly museum pieces

bullet 5280 Magazine Rockmount Exhibit Cowboys & Rock Stars
bullet Doyle Dykes in Rockmount, WOOD & STEEL
bullet Rockmount installs solar-energy system
bullet THE DENVER POST: Relocating Denver's National Western Stock Show draws mixed reviews
bullet LA TIMES:   ROCKMOUNT Shirts from Brokeback at the Autry Museum
bullet AMERICAN COWBOY MAGAZINE Industry Profile: "Styled in the West"
bullet THE DENVER POST - MAY 17, 2009





bullet the economist 8/28/08: jack a. weil, patriarch of western clothing, died on august 13th, aged 107
bullet Chicago tribune: No enterprise epitomizes denver's pioneer spirit more than rockmount
bullet npr 8/20: rockmount and the dnc
bullet national public radio - all things considered - melissa block - august 15, 2008
bullet los angeles times: jack a. weil, 107 designed, poularized cowboy shirts
bullet washington post: jack a. weil, 107; entrepreneur put style in western wear
bullet rocky mountain news: hundreds honor man whose business was symbol of west
bullet Denver Post: curious theather gave "papa jack" stirring tribute in may
bullet rocky mountain news: a hat tip to 'papa jack' weil
bullet Rocky mountain news "Weil's way", aug. 15, 2008
bullet new york times: jack a. weil, the cowboy dresser
bullet This Associated Press syndicated article appeared in media across the world including  LA Times, Kansas City Star, Newsday, Orlando Sentinel, Star Tribune, Taiwan News...
bullet grandchildren tip hats to "papa jack"
bullet papa jack 1901 - 2008: rocky mountain news
bullet new york times: visit rockmount when in denver
bullet Westword 8/21 jack a. weil proved that the west is not a place, but a state of mind.

This syndicated article by AP associated PRESS began appearing in publications world-wide August 10, 2008


Syndicated AP article on Rockmount shirts for the Democratic National Convention. This article appeared in thousands of newspapers world-wide beginning Aug. 10, 2008

bullet from a business point of view, it makes cents for a republican to do a dnc shirt - july 11, 2008 rocky mountain news

EVANSVILLE COURIER PRESS:  107-year-old Denver Businessman still has memories of Evansville july 13, 2008

bullet los angeles times recommends visit to rockmount june 4, 2008
bullet denver post: clothier salute steals show

Rocky mountain news 5-23-08 - 'Papa jack's tale steals teh show at third annual 'denver stories'

bullet Time Magazine features Rockmount shirt No. 6799-Beer April 21, 2008
bullet Papa Jack featured in German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung,  April 14, 2008
bullet Weil, 107, to get Curious vetting
bullet Jack Weil, Featured in Stories
bullet Oldest CEO draws fans to Denver
bullet Mayor pays tribute to Jack B. Weil

Jack Weil Industry Tribute, Tack 'N Togs trade magazine, March 2008

bullet Jack B.
bullet Western wear innovator Jack B. dies
bullet Jack Weil the Younger dies at 79
bullet Painting sustained Rockmount executive Weil, 79

Western Dress Suits Everyone


Retail sign returns to owner 50 years later

bullet MSN.COM, AOL.COM, & Inc.COM
This appeared world-wide on the opening pages of MSN.COM December 26, 2007, AOL.COM & INC.COM November 15, 2007
bullet CNBC  -  December 5, 2007 "Sam Walton Was A Hillbilly"
bullet Jack B.'s Turn to Bow
bullet What to find an 106 year old to wear.
bullet Boss of Shirts
bullet Rockmount in the Australian press

Rocky Mountain News:   Eddie Murphy's film "Nowhereland" shops ROCKMOUNT


Bruce Springsteen CBS 60 Minutes Interview by Scott Pelley

bullet The Weils & Rockmount featured in German paper:  Munchner Merkur Sept. 8, 2007
bullet New acquaintances make St. Louisan's long road trip special
bullet They even know about Rockmount in Australia
bullet Cowgirl chic goes south of the border
bullet Papa Jack on Tonight Show Wed Aug 1!
bullet There's No Westerner Like and Easterner
bullet Rocky Mountain News July 10, 2007  Tonight Show to interview Papa Jack
bullet Fodor's Travel Guide to Colorado features Rockmount
bullet THE DENVER POST  Denver Goes with what it knows:  Papa Jack advertising campaign
bullet AAA VIA Magazine on Denver:  Visit Rockmount
bullet 5280 Magazine profiles Papa Jack
bullet French Magazine Le Point picks Rockmount
bullet CBS 4 Denver - Ranch Wear Business Features 3 Generations
bullet Southwest Airlines MAgazine
bullet PAPA JACK Billboard
bullet National Public Radio, Morning Edition:  JACK WEIL OLDEST CEO
bullet The Giants visit Rockmount - April 17th, 2007
bullet DENVER POST ON PAPA JACK- March 27, 2007
bullet OLD MAN AND THE STREET - March 27, 2007
bullet southeast line makes for pleasant entry into city colo springs gazette, december 3, 2006
bullet DaltrEy Double? the rocky mountain news, november 15, 2006
bullet Fitness magazine oct. 2006
bullet rockmount rocks: Huey Lewis went to Rockmount Ranch Wear The Rocky Mountain News, Sept. 19, 2006
bullet President george w. bush letter to jack a. weil
bullet 105-year-old ceo honored with street name 9news, mar. 28, 2006
bullet At 105, oldest CEO sells Western wear to stars Reuters news agency world-wide, apr 9, 2006
bullet clothes made the man the denver post, mar. 29, 2006
bullet Clothier, 105, still going strong the rocky mountain news, mar. 29, 2006
bullet WAZEE BECOMES THE STREET SO NICE... the rocky mountain news, MAR. 10, 2006
bullet Love it or not, cowboy couture is riding herd on fashion's mainstream The denver post, jan. 15, 2006
bullet instant expert: stock tips the denver post, jan 8, 2006
bullet out here: rodeo style The denver post
bullet Clotheshorses the denver post, jan 6, 2006
bullet 5280 Magazine shirt 6719 nov. 18, 2005
bullet THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS - Raitt's crew flashed cheeky birthday wishes at Fillmore love-in nov. 10, 2005
bullet BONNIE RAITT Nov. 9, 2005
bullet Rocky Mountain NEWs picks rockmount no.1 western store Nov. 4, 2005
bullet NOT SO MELLOW YELLOW OCT. 26, 2005
bullet Sept 2005 Gentleman's Quarterly
bullet New York Times Review of Books "WESTERN SHIRTS" Sept. 4, 2005
bullet Shirt style strikes chord with Clapton, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
bullet Las Vegas Book Signing at Mandalay Bay Aug 30, 2005
bullet A Conversation with a 104 year-old Icon of the American West,
bullet Rockmount business and building undergo rebirth, Rocky Mountain NEWS, July 30, 2005
bullet Radio Interview with Steve Weil about Eric Clapton, The Mountain, Denver (Windows MEdia Player)
bullet Uncommon executives in session, Denver patriarchs, 104 and 93, share histories over lunch, Rocky Mountain NEws, June 2, 2005
bullet American icon that refuses to hang up its boots, The Times MAy 21 2005
bullet Old timer with a hatful of ideas, The times, May 21, 2005
bullet Western Shirt, Just the ticket for Clapton, THE DENVER POST, May 12, 2005
bullet Rockmount Ranch Wear scratches Clapton itch for Western duds, Rocky Mountain NEws, May 5, 2005
bullet belated birthday, The rocky mountain news, april 12, 2005
bullet 104 and counting, The denver post, april 2005
bullet Author Sandra Cisneros reads from her acclaimed book “Caramelo” The denver post, april 8, 2005
bullet From practical to collectible - Denverite helps write Western look book, THE DENVER POST, MARCH 20, 2005
bullet Colorado Matters on Western Shirts: A Classic American Tradition, Colorado Public Radio, December 20, 2004
bullet Shelter from the swarm, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, December 13, 2004
bullet Collaring A Western Classic, THE DENVER POST, December 13, 2004
bullet America's Oldest CEO , 9 NEWS - KUSA, DENVER, December 9, 2004
bullet WEIL'S WAY, Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 3, 2004
bullet THE WEST IS BEST, WESTWORD, November 29, 2004
bullet HOT TYPE: Lassoing Fashion History , Rocky Mountain News , Nov. 19, 2004
bullet Western Author's Panel, AUSTIN CHRONICLE, Nov. 12, 2004
bullet After a Fashion, AUSTIN CHRONICLE, October 22, 2004
bullet FOREVER YOUNG, Rocky Mountain News, October 14, 2004
bullet COLORADO ORIGINALS: Snap-style Western shirt, The Denver Post, Sunday, August 22, 2004
bullet Denver TV Station Channel WB2 KWGN, July 2004
bullet James Garner Cowboys & Indians, July 2004
bullet Western-wear CEO still a snappy dresser at 103 THE DENVER POST, Monday, June 21, 2004
bullet They even wear Rockmount at the South Pole! Personal Email to Rockmount, June 2004
bullet Shirt Book All Buttoned Up Tack 'n Togs, June 2004
bullet Papa Jack 103rd Birthday & Cowboy Poetry Gathering Tack 'n Togs, June 2004
bullet City spirit The Denver Post, Thursday, May 27, 2004
bullet Venerable Western Clothier Bucks Trends Associated Press Syndicated Article, April 25, 2004
bullet PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG Rocky Mtn News, April 24, 2004
bullet COWBOY UP Rocky Mtn News, April 15, 2004
bullet 2004 What Lies Ahead
bullet Style 100
bullet Local charities reap benefit of officials' friendly food fight
bullet Westword - Off Limits 12/03
bullet The Aaron Harber TV Show
bullet 102-year-old Denver Man Remembers His First Airplane Flight
bullet Denver man bags a mantle home-run ball, the denverpost 12/03
bullet Colorado's Economic Realities, The Denverpost, 11/03
bullet BOYS IN THE BANd, The Rocky Mountain News, 11/03
bullet Amendment 32 Garners Business Backing, The Denver Post, 10/03
bullet Letter to the Editor, The Denver Post, 10/03
bullet Western Fantasy Gala, The Denver Post, 10/03
bullet Hollywood Hick, Rocky Mountain News, 10/03
bullet City spirit 10/03
bullet Colorado Public Radio "Rockmount Shirts" September 23, 2003
bullet Western design saddles up 9/03
bullet Clothes Make the Mayor, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/03
bullet dick kreck's column,DENVER POST 4/03
bullet Western wear tips its hat to the world, Denver Post 1/03
bullet Rockmount Retails, Rocky Mountain News 8/02
bullet Cowboy fashion, Rocky Mountain News 3/02
bullet Marie Claire March 2002
bullet BOB DYLAN wearing Rockmount in Denver Post, 10-19-2001
bullet CNN NEWS STORY (text), 5/10/2001
bullet "Rockmount Ranch Wear Ropes In Clients by Bucking Retail Trendiness", LOS ANGELES TIMES (AP syndicated story in newspapers throughout US), 4/1/01
bullet "At 100 WEIL'S STILL WORKING" - EDITORIAL, Rocky Mountain NEws, 3/29/01
bullet "How a snap decision led to a long love affair with the West", WESTWORD MAGAZINE. 3/15/01
bullet “A WESTERN FAMILY DYNASTY: Founder, Jack A. Weil & Rockmount Ranch Wear,WESTERN & ENGLISH TODAY, 3/01
bullet “ROMANCING THE WEST: Patriarch Clothes Celebs, Cowboys, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 1/01
bullet “HOW THE WEST IS WORN: Combining Classic, New Wears Well At Rockmount,” THE DENVER POST, 1/01
bullet “Jack A. Weil Blvd,” THE DENVER POST, 1/01
bullet “Endangered Species? Snap Button Shirts,” EQUESTRIAN RETAILER, 10/99
bullet “Who Put The Snap In Western Shirts,” EQUESTRIAN RETAILER, 10/99
bullet “The Cowboy Way,” GENTLEMAN’S QUARTERLY, 2/97
bullet “The Dude is Back in Town,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4/93
bullet "Is it Rockmount or Hollymount?" 1/94
bullet “Saluting Family Business,” COLORADO BUSINESS MAGAZINE, 10/93
bullet "Rockmount earns trademark rights for shirt cuff tab" 1/86

"Jack Weil honored by WERA" 2/86



The Denver Post 8 28 12 Denver Rustlers unofficial uniform: cowboy hat, Rockmount Ranch shirt

The best part of the Denver Rustlers luncheon might be watching folks try on their cowboy hats: Some fit just right and some are a teensy bit small,ala Mr. Potato Head.

The straw hats the Rustlers don for the luncheon and trip to the Colorado State Fair are provided by the Miller Coors Foundation. The tab for the Rockmount Ranch Wear shirts is picked up by M.D.C. Holdings/Richmond American Homes. Del Frico’s restaurant provided the lunch while Noble Energy Foundation paid for the buses to the fair. And 1st Bank handles the organization’s banking needs.
The freebies enable all donations to the Denver Rustlers to pay for bidding on livestock shown by young farmers and ranchers at the State Fair. Since its inception 23 years ago, the Denver Rustlers have raised more than $2 million for the fair’s junior livestock sale.

AMERICAN COWBOY feature on ROCKMOUNT - Pride of Denver



Our friend Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family star, has a soft spot for Rockmount shirts. He wears them on camera and on the street. Here he is featured in People Magazine.

NEW YORK TIMES "Dabbing the Brow of Cowpoke or CEO Aug. 9, 2012

Published: August 8, 2012
Dabbing the Brow of Cowpoke or C.E.O.

YOU can't help but wonder if the late Richard Carlson of San Francisco would have chosen "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" as the title of his motivational best seller if he had lived on the East Coast instead of the West. Surely the only self-help advice for this cruel summer in New York is "Oh, Just Go Ahead and Sweat Everything."

Of course, on top of a drenched shirt, pants and jacket, the heat is going to make a woeful mess of your everyday white cotton handkerchief. Tucked in your jacket pocket is one thing. But in your hand, mopping your brow, it looks awfully ... well, middle management.
So, enter our friend the bandanna. Larger by half than most handkerchiefs, the normal 22-inch-square bandanna has the wherewithal to take on the most overheated head, neck and whatever else needs a mop. Loosely folded and tucked into your back pocket, the bandanna was born to be abused.

Indeed, it looks better when slightly crumpled. Its color and pattern hide dampness and occasional smudges far better than its tattletale all-white cousin. Its cowboy roots give it a certain machismo and swagger, and should you be feeling so '70s, it can be twisted and tied around the neck, a look that is cropping up in a surprising number of pictures on Facebook.

Even if you're not partial to the old outsize paisley model, there are plenty of options. The western-wear brand Rockmount Ranch Wear of Denver has colorful bandanna prints with horseshoes, Route 66 signs, cowhide, prairie flowers and the like. offers the classic paisley pattern in a 14-inch square, the ideal size to do double duty as a snappy, inexpensive pocket square, which a large bandanna won't. J. Crew will be selling similar ones from Hav-A-Hank in October. Another online source, the Bandanna Company, offers paisleys and patterns like checkerboards, stars, flags and batiks at just $1 each (though it sells them only by the dozen).

Some of the nicest, if pricey, bandannas are the ones at Hickoree's Hard Goods, a store and Web shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The store's house brand, the Hill-Side, includes dozens of appealing patterns (dots, stripes, swirls) designed by the line's brother-owners, Emil and Sandy Corsillo. Best of all, most are available in kerchief size (21-by-21 inches) and handkerchief size (13-by-13 inches) to suit your suit or pants pocket as well as your styling or perspiration needs (or both).

The Hill-Side bandannas and pocket squares have proved to be a hit, sold in upscale men's boutiques across the country. Emil Corsillo joked that he is even thinking of updating the mythic gay "hankie code" for 21st-century men, straight and gay alike. Red dot in left pocket: won't call you back afterward. Red dot in right: wants to move in right away. Three different pocket squares crammed into left pocket: ADD. Crisply folded blue-and-white-striped bandanna in right pocket: OCD.

Clearly, the options are dizzying. But in a pinch, you can always punt. In a forum discussing the merits of bandannas over handkerchiefs on the Web site AskAndyAboutClothes, one wag wrote, in answer to a question about what a gentleman should use to blow his nose: "I always borrow someone else's pocket square." Intelligence, they say, is adaptation.


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Rockmount on 9 News

The Denver Post: Nov. 24, 2011 Three Arrested Credit Card Scam Thanks to Dog & Eagle Eye

Rockmount Awarded Top 50 Family Owned Business

GQ Australia - June 2011 - 24 Hours in Denver


Rockmount exhibit celebrates a perfect fit

Joanne Davidson
July 19, 2011

Liz Lipper, left, with her son, Rockmount Ranch Wear president Steve Weil; his wife, Wendy, and their son, Colter.
Musicians and bronco-busters aren't the only ones who love the fancy Western shirts from Denver's Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Plenty of regular folk do, too, as evidenced by the 350 who found their way to Golden this past Saturday night to chow down on jalapeño poppers and miniature tamales chased by shots of tequila or PeaceMaker whiskey, dance to the music of the Moderators and check out "Cowboys & Rock Stars," an exhibition at Foothills Art Center that traces Rockmount's 65 years as a world icon in the Western-wear business.

RockWest, chaired by PRima Donna Public Relations chief Donna Crafton Montgomery and her husband, police officer DJ Montgomery, was a fundraiser for Foothills and attracted a ready-to-party crowd that included stockbrokers, lawyers, accountants, artists, authors, Realtors and Your Friend in the Diamond Business, Tom Shane.

Many of the guests wore vintage Rockmount; some bought theirs especially for RockWest. Others added to their wardrobes after looking through the selections for sale in the art center lobby.

Reilly Sanborn, the executive director at Foothills, raided the Rockmount vault to find a hot pink number with black beading on the yoke. Shane rifled through his closet to retrieve a brown suede Rockmount that he'd bought 10 years ago for another dress-Western event.

Andy Bishop, husband of immediate past Fine Arts Foundation president Murri Bishop, works out at the same athletic club as Rockmount president Steve Weil and bought a new Rockmount shirt just for the party. Jeff Huseman, who had been Weil's roommate at Tulane University, flew in from New Orleans for the occasion with his wife, Andrea. He'd packed a vintage Rockmount for the event.

Weil said he was very happy with both the exhibit, curated by Michael Chavez, and the response to RockWest.

"We do have a museum in the store, but it's very small, so a lot of what you're seeing in this exhibition has never been put on public display," said Weil, whose grandfather, Jack A. Weil, started the company in 1946. "It's also great to see so many of our shirts being worn tonight. What a nice tribute."

RockWest also saluted four special friends of Foothills Art Center: Gov. John Hickenlooper; curator Rose Fredrick; artist Duke Beardsley; and MillerCoors.

Other guests included dentist John Raabe; author Corinne Joy Brown; Ann and Kevin Reidy; Denver Art Museum curator Ron Otsuka; Bea and Jack Wilhite; Rollie Jordan; and Cyndi and Steve Levey, who shared the news that their son, Andy, has become the director of social media for Cirque du Soleil.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey, his wife Maggie and her mother Sue Cannon, founder of Museum of Contemporary Art

"Cowboys & Rock Stars" is on view through Labor Day at Foothills Art Center, 809 15th St. in Golden.

Joanne Davidson: 303-809-1314 or jdavidson@; also, davidson and GetItWrite on Twitter


The Denver Post: Rockmount's Western shirts are truly museum pieces

Rockmount's ranch wear will be featured in "Cowboys and Rock Stars" at the Foothills Art Center in Golden - The Denver Post

5280 Magazine Rockmount Exhibit Cowboys & Rock Stars

How the West Was Worn
An homage to Denver's Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Doyle Dykes in Rockmount, WOOD & STEEL


COLORADO GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER WEARS ROCKMOUNT. Our friend, former brew pub entrepreneur, knows a good beer shirt when he sees one. Formerly the mayor of Denver, it was his idea for Rockmount, a Colorado original, to make the official DNC shirts. An old family friend, he wrote a cover blurb on the Ask Papa Jack book. Now the Governor of Colorado, John is a better judge of shirts and hops than horses!

THE DENVER POST: Relocating Denver's National Western Stock Show draws mixed reviews

Business May 3, 2011

Relocating Denver's National Western Stock Show draws mixed reviews

By Greg Griffin and Aldo Svaldi

A proposal to move the National Western Stock Show to a location near Denver International Airport — where it would be coupled with a 1,500-room, Western-themed hotel and conference center in Aurora — is receiving mixed reviews in the business community.

While some see it as perhaps the best hope for keeping the 105-year-old institution in Denver, others are concerned that the plan, including the complex proposed by Gaylord Entertainment Co., would diminish central Denver and take business from the publicly funded Colorado Convention Center. "I'm a big believer in regionalism, but what I see as a core issue is that the strength of our region emanates from a strong downtown," said Walter Isenberg, chief executive of Denver-based Sage Hospitality, which operates the Curtis hotel downtown.

"The state of Colorado and city and county of Denver have spent a significant amount of money building a convention center downtown. If this hotel and conference center are built, will they cannibalize that investment? . . . If the public is asked to put money in, we need to ask these questions," he said. Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear at 16th and Wazee streets, is even more blunt. "What it amounts to is a transfer of wealth from downtown Denver to the suburbs and Aurora," said Weil, who wants the city to spend what is necessary to refurbish the stock show's existing location. "I do not think the city of Denver benefits from moving a cultural institution such as the stock show to the outskirts." Denver officials have received assurances from Gaylord that its possible development would bring in new business, said Jack Finlaw, chief of staff to Mayor Guillermo "Bill" Vidal. Denver will study those claims to make sure they are valid, he said.

"I can assure you that the mayor and Denver city government will do nothing that would put at risk our convention center, our downtown hotels or restaurants or our cultural attractions," he said. Rich Grant, spokesman for Visit Denver, which books conventions for the Colorado Convention Center, said the city already competes with Gaylord properties throughout the country. Redeveloping the National Western should be kept separate from adding hotel rooms, he said.

"We have 43,000 hotel rooms in the city, and the second-lowest occupancy is in January," he said. "There are no shortages of rooms during the stock show."

Gaylord's business model is to rotate its convention customers through its various locations, said David Katz, an analyst with the investment group Jeffries & Co. Most of the conventions Gaylord would bring to Denver would not come here otherwise, he said. Fifteen percent to 20 percent of its customers are unaffiliated with conventions and might have chosen Gaylord over another local hotel, he said.

Katz said he doubts that many of those visitors would make the trek downtown, though a potential stop on RTD's planned DIA line would help.

The National Western generates about $100 million in economic activity each January throughout the metro area, the majority of that concentrated in Denver, said National Western chief executive Paul Andrews. That is up from $84.1 million, including $500,000 in tax revenues to the city and county of Denver, that a 2005 study found the event generated.

Andrews said larger and more modern facilities would allow the stock show to compete better on the national stage and boost the events it could host throughout the year.

"The economic impact will grow significantly with the ability to service our customers and our exhibitors," he said. Lodging represents the biggest spending item for those visiting Denver for the stock show, and hotels near Stapleton are a big beneficiary of that traffic, said Christine O'Donnell, president of the Metro Denver Hotel Association.

Those hotels are not so far from the proposed location, and hotels in the E-470 corridor and along Tower Road may pick up some additional business.

Of greater concern are the hotels downtown and near the complex itself.

There are other benefits associated with a relocation, including $1 billion in new construction tied to the proposed project, not to mention redevelopment opportunities on land where the National Western now sits. Commercial developments worth $26.5 million on the old property would be enough to replace that revenue stream, estimates Keith Erffmeyer, the city's deputy assessor. And that isn't counting the surrounding development a new center could kick off.

Several business owners said they're not worried, or they consider the proposal better than letting the stock show die.

"I don't believe a new hotel will satisfy the needs of everyone who comes to the stock show," said Bill Dutton, general manager of the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant at West 10th Avenue and Osage Street. He is confident the regulars who come to the restaurant every year will keep doing so and that some new visitors will find their way to Denver's oldest restaurant.

Randy Gaddis, director of sales at Denver Merchandise Mart, which hosts the Colorado Indian Market during the event, would prefer to see the stock show stay in the neighborhood. But he said he supports a move if that keeps the stock show going.

"They have to do what they need to do to maintain and grow the stock show," he said. It's indisputable that Gaylord hotels are major economic engines in their communities.

The Gaylord Texan Resort in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine generated $279 million in economic activity in the region in 2010 and supported 2,600 jobs, according to a study for the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce. Construction of the 1,500-room hotel generated more than $1 billion in activity. Development has sprouted up around the property, which Gaylord built in 2004 in an undeveloped part of town, said RaDonna Hessel, the chamber's chief executive.

"You cannot miss the impact the Gaylord has had on Grapevine," Hessel said. "You see them involved in everything and everywhere."

Some of the hotel's business may come at the expense of the Dallas and Fort Worth city convention centers, but Gaylord helps the region compete nationally and attract more conventions overall, Hessel said.

Nashville, home to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, lost an estimated $56 million in visitor spending during the six months that the 2,881-room hotel was closed after last year's flooding, said Heather Middleton, spokeswoman for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. Some of the hotel's bookings were rebooked elsewhere in town, Middleton said.

"They bring a lot to the table," she said. "It's a huge chunk of money."

Rockmount installs solar-energy system.

The Denver Post

April 29, 2011

Rockmount Ranch Wear, working with SunTalk Solar, has completed installation of a 13.8 kilowatt photovoltaic solar system on the roof of its landmark building at 1626 Wazee St. The environmental benefits are equivalent to planting over 13,000 trees, said Steve Weil, president of Rockmount.

Weil adds, “This is a win/win. We reduce Rockmount’s carbon foot print and save money, too. These solar panels will remove hundreds of tons of CO2 over their lifetime. The local and federal incentives make the payback very attractive, too. Every month we reduce our electric bill enough to pay for the system in less than 4 years. Then it makes money over its 20 or 25 year lifetime. The system has a cool web link shows how much electricity we generate vs. consume real time.


From: Beth Kurre []
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:43 PM
Subject: Congrats Rockmount Ranchwear is Best in the City

Hello, Congratulations, Rockmount Ranch Wear have been chosen as one of the very best things in the Denver area by Denver Magazine's editors and writers and will be featured in the June "Best in the City" issue of Denver Magazine.

Research into the editors' selections has been done anonymously over the course of the year, but you will likely hear from a writer doing a final writeup in the next several weeks.

We are really excited about our first annual Best in the City issue of Denver Magazine and this opportunity to share your business and the unique things you do with our readers.

Best Regards,

Beth Kurre
Account Executive
Denver Magazine®


Rockmount plaid No. 6888 on the cover of Orange Magazine or Orange, courtesy of Rockmount dealer Moonlight Graham, Orange, CA.



What to Wear

Dress for inaugural party success in jeans and Western gear By Suzanne S. Brown
Sunday, January 9, 2011

People can be divided into two camps when it comes to Western fashion — they either love it or loathe it. Count John Hickenlooper among the former. While he's likely to be spotted around Denver in a suit and tie, he's also been known to wear a cowboy hat and boots when the occasion calls for it.

And he's calling for it himself at his Tuesday inaugural barbecue dinner and concert, requesting that guests wear "dressy western or business attire." The black-tie gubernatorial inaugural might have gone the way of four-course dinners in this era of national austerity, but is this a cowtown — or "Hick" town — approach to such a ceremonious occasion?

More likely, it's a shrewd political move on Hickenlooper's part, observers say. And timely, given that the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is underway, and people have already polished their boots and shined their silver jewelry. "I commend the governor-elect for celebrating Colorado's Western history and legacy. As a business person, he gets it," says Steve Weil, owner of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the Denver Western wear manufacturer. "He understands that this is our brand."

But back to practical matters: What does one wear to a $100-a-plate barbecue dinner being held in a venue where the audience is typically dressed in distressed jeans and rock T-shirts?

Boring politicos and lobbyists paying their dues will no doubt be in blue suits or black dresses. But others will seize the moment, turning what could be a yawner of an event into something a little more fun. Why not snap on a brightly embroidered shirt and wear your skinniest jeans tucked into high-heeled boots? Maybe bust out your fringed suede jacket, leather pants or boldest concha belt? (Please, just don't dig out the satin shirt from your "Urban Cowboy" days.) "This is a party and a concert, not a business meeting, so people can dress casually or dressy or flamboyant. It's all a question of personal taste," Weil says. "The good thing about Western is you can wear it all or parts of it — everything from the hat, shirt, tie, belt or boots, or any one of the above."

It's a time to turn to homegrown retailers who know what hip — rather than hokey — cowpokes want to wear. "It doesn't really take much to pull it together — you can wear a great shirt, Western jewelry, or jeans and boots," says Roxanne Thurman, owner of Cry Baby Ranch in Larimer Square. "And you don't have to spend a fortune. I always encourage people to wear something they're comfortable in, and not to go in costume."

Molly Broeren, who owns Molly's of Denver, has outfitted such customers as U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver for fancy White House inaugural parties. This is a different story, she says. "What's nice is that women don't have to worry about whether their dress is short or long, of if they can wear pants. Everyone owns bluejeans," Broeren says, adding, "You just don't want to look like you're going to the rodeo or wearing jeans you're going to wash the car in."

As for her own outfit, Broeren plans to top a pair of designer jeans with a velvet turtleneck. Tami Door, president of the Downtown Denver Partnership, will pull on her new "snappy suede boots with white stitching," and a black shirt with rhinestones. She says Hickenlooper nailed the theme. "I think it reflects the state of Colorado and the way we live and do business, the level of informality we embrace."

Suzanne S. Brown: 303-954-1697 or


Top: Rockmount shirtNo. 7805 (also men)
Left: Rockmount shirt No. 7718 women (also men)
Right: Rockmount shirt No. 7787 (also men and kids)



ROCKMOUNT jacket No. 1110 for men, women and kids

ROCKMOUNT "Porter Wagoner" design No. 6755 for men and women, featured in Western Equestrian Retailer '2011

ROCKMOUNT vintage embroidery No. 7718 for women and men, featured in Western Equestrian Retailer '2011



Parker: Cyrus Stylin’ with Rockmount Shirt
By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist
July 23, 2010

Miley Cyrus gave Denver-based Rockmount Ranch Wear some national television exposure. Rockmount rocker.

LoDo-based Rockmount Ranch Wear got an unexpected shout-out from Miley Cyrus when her wildly popular show "Hannah Montana" premiered season four Tuesday night.

During the show, she gives a Rockmount shirt to her real-life dad Billy Ray Cyrus, who ends up wearing the glad rag. The design is shirt No. 6706, a black shirt with hand-embroidered red Hawaiian flowers.

The national TV exposure doesn't necessarily lead to higher shirt sales, but it helps spread buzz about the brand, Rockmount owner Steve Weil said. "It reinforces our brand and reinforces our design direction," Weil said about the TV exposure. "It means a costume designer picked it up and bought it because (he or she) liked it."

This wasn't that shirt style's first TV time. William Shatner donned it during an episode of "Boston Legal." "The beauty of it is it's so identifiable as our shirt," Weil said.


From Wild West to Modern Rodeo, the Look Is New

How the West was worn: From Wild West to modern rodeo, cowboy clothes have changed

Associated Press Writer
DENVER January 4, 2010 (AP)
The Associated Press

In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, a Rockmount Ranch Wear coat hangs from a rack...
In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, a Rockmount Ranch Wear coat hangs from a rack of goods for sale inside the firm's headquarters in Denver. Current western wear has evolved over the past century to the point a cowboy of 100 years ago would not even recognize the goods craved by today's cowboys and cowgirls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Thousands of cowboys and cowgirls will be decked out in their Western finery at the National Western Stock Show in Denver this month. But if an original cowboy from the late 1800s somehow stumbled in, would he recognize anybody?

"He wouldn't even recognize the cows," said Steve Weil, president of Denver's Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Western wear today doesn't look much like what the legendary young cowhands wore from the 1870s through the 1890s, designers and historians say. The clothing has adapted to meet changing styles, just as cattle have been bred to meet evolving tastes.

In the 1880s, Texas cowboys often wore battered, floppy hats and loose pants made of wool or canvas. Cowboys from California or other parts west of the Rockies more likely wore tighter pants made of denim and a red sash, a carry-over from the Mexican vaqueros.

Or a cowboy's clothes might be a chaotic mess with no discernible style at all, said Don Reeves, a curator at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

"In earlier times, you had such a mismatch of people and the clothes they wore. They looked more like refugees than cowboys," said Reeves, who holds the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture at the museum.

An event like the National Western, with 16 days of rodeo, livestock contests, auctions and Wild West shows, draws hundreds of thousands of people with a noticeably tidier look.

Today's well-dressed cowboys and cowgirls are more likely to wear a clean hat with a carefully creased crown, maybe in a style called "Cattleman" or "Montana" or "Gus." They might also wear a brightly colored shirt and heavily starched jeans.

"My dry-cleaning bill is through the roof," said Keith Mundee. "Just this weekend I spent $140 on starched jeans."

Cowboy boots may have changed the least over time. Such embellishments as high heels and decorated uppers appeared early as cowboys tried to set themselves apart, Reeves said.

"Even in the 1870s, they would try to show that 'I'm a Texan, I'm a cowboy, I don't walk behind a plow,'" he said.

In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, Rockmount Ranch Wear shirt hangs on a rack as...
In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, Rockmount Ranch Wear shirt hangs on a rack as one of the company's latest offerings for sale inside the firm's headquarters in Denver. Current western wear has evolved over the past century to the point a cowboy of 100 years ago would not even recognize the goods craved by today's cowboys and cowgirls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
It wasn't until the 1920s and 30s, years after the cattle drives that made the cowboy an American hero, that the style we recognize today as Western wear began to emerge, Reeves and Weil said.

That had as much to do with Hollywood and the music business as it did with working cowboys.

"Western fashion as we know it really came into its own with the movies, the Western movie," Weil said. Before the 1920s, "Western fashion as we know it did not exist."

The look hit its zenith in the 1940s with the fancy outfits of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, the singing cowboys and movie stars, Reeves said. "The Lone Ranger" and "Hopalong Cassidy" TV Westerns carried the look in the 1950s.

Reeves once saw an original Lone Ranger costume, including stretchy blue tights. "It was, ew-w-w, kind of scary. You looked at the suit and it was kind of like dance class," he said.

But the Lone Ranger's hat, boots and gun belt were enough to convince audiences that he was a cowboy.

"Even though the rest of it had more to do with leotards than what cowboys wore, we said, 'Yeah, that's a cowboy.' We made that cognitive leap," Reeves said.

Rodeo performers in the early 1900s had an underrated influence on the Western look, Reeves said. They started wearing bigger hats and brighter colors to get noticed, and teenagers in the audience began to imitate the style when they dressed up for a dance, if not when they went to work in the saddle.

Western wear has evolved into a hardy industry, if a relatively small one. Sales figures are hard to come by, but Mundee of Rocky Mountain Clothing estimates the segment accounts for about $500 million a year in sales. The overall U.S. apparel market is about $200 billion a year, said Beth Boyle of NPD Group, a market research provider.

People in the Western wear business say it's relatively stable, even during the recession.

In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear,...
In this photograph taken on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, shows off one of his company's latest offerings from a rack of shirts for sale inside the firm's headquarters in Denver. Current western wear has evolved over the past century to the point a cowboy of 100 years ago would not even recognize the goods craved by today's cowboys and cowgirls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
"We've always done well through the downturns," Mundee said. "They may not buy a new truck, or horse, or saddle, but they always want to look good."

Weil said one of the industry's strengths is that it embodies the West.

"That was the whole point when my grandfather went into business, to make something for a Western identity which was emerging," Weil said.

His grandfather, "Papa Jack" Weil, founded the company in 1946 and is credited with developing such signature Western looks as snap-button shirts and pockets with a sawtooth pattern. Jack Weil, who died in 2008 at age 107, went to work daily until a few days before his death, his grandson said.

Rockmount is now known for putting its Western shirts on the backs of everyone from guitarist Eric Clapton to actor Hugh Grant in "Did You Hear About the Morgans?"

It's a look that never goes out of fashion, Steve Weil said.

"Who doesn't long for what it represents? Wide open spaces, rugged individualism, the myth of the cowboy," he said. "It's something that people universally understand and respect."



In the December, 2009 issue, Elle Decor features Denver and recommends a visit to Rockmount.

Rockmount Ranch Wear, 1626 Wazee St., 629-7777; The original Western-shirt company, in the same historic warehouse since 1946.


Rockmount No. 693-Red shadow plaid on cover of bike magazine "Kickstand"

San Francisco Examiner

Urban Cowboy
September 8, 2009
SF Men's Fashion Examiner

by James Mowdy
Experiencing the Santa Fe Opera in August provided more than a world-class arts experience. In addition to the soaring vocals of Natalie Dessay’s Violetta in “La Traviata”, the are-you-kidding architecture of Santa Fe’s outdoor Crosby Theatre....


Photo courtesy of Rockmount Western Wear.

With Santa Fe still singing my ears, Jeremy’s South Park location managed a timely surprise. Tucked away along the back wall of the men’s boutique were western-style shirts from Rockmount Ranch Wear.  

A fave item of owner Jeremy Kidson, buyer Amanda apparently keeps them in stock and demand remains steady. 

The history behind the Denver-based brand, founded by Jack A. Weil in 1946, is storied, and per the website, Mr. Weil, who passed in 2008, was to western wear what Henry Ford was to the automobile.  

The two-tone Vintage Shadow Print with “shotgun cuffs”  with requisite snaps, looks great on any guy with the right attitude, jeans and black blazer, deconstructed or not. 

Perhaps a bit more versatile was an original design of Mr. Weil’s from the 1950s, the Horse Shoe Appliqué Shadow Plaid. Under $70.00 each, both shirts tailored construction dovetails nicely into the current fitted look for men.  

Photo courtesy of Rockmount Western Wear.



Cbeyond, a communications company, is featuring Rockmount in a national advertising campaign.  Steve is wearing Rockmount shadow plaid No. 620-Gray.




Musicians dig the pearl snaps

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist

August 27, 2009

James Walbourne of the Pretenders rocks a jacket & shirt from Rockmount Ranch Wear. ( Courtesy of Steve Weil )

Musically speaking, Rockmount Ranch Wear rocks. The Wazee Street flagship store, which started as a warehouse facility 63 years ago, has evolved into the go-to store for famous faces.

"This summer, we were visited by the Conchords and Ramblin' Jack Elliott," said Rockmount president Steve Weil. "In the last week, Jack White of the Dead Underground shopped Rockmount. Jack was formerly with the White Stripes and Raconteurs. He is featured with Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton in the new movie 'It Will Be Loud.' "

Rockmount started its retail biz online in 2001 in honor of founder Jack A. Weil's 100th birthday. The following year, it launched a small retail area, then grew to a full-blown retail outlet in 2005 when the Weil family renovated the building at 1626 Wazee St.
This year, Rockmount also has been visited twice by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Pretenders and, more recently, Green Day.

Among the Pretenders, Eric Heywood bought a classic shadow plaid shirt, and Nick Wilkinson and James Walbourne wore black saddle-stitch shirts on stage.

Why is the rock-'n'-roll world buying Rockmount clothing?

"Beats me," Weil said. "I guess we are lucky. My grandfather and father were all about creating a distinct look with a Western identity. I look at what we do as pure Americana.

"Somewhere along the way, certain celebrities found us. People like the story and the product. We are not about trends that change with the wind. Rockmount is about classic design, which speaks to people across all borders, at all ages, such as rock 'n' roll."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail


The music scene has been big at Rockmount.   This summer we were visited by The Conchords and Rambling Jack Eliot.   In the last week Jack White of the Dead Weather shopped Rockmount.  Jack was formerly with The White Stripes & Raconteurs.  He is featured with Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton in the new movie "It Will be Loud".

The band Green Day slipped in a few days later.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, The Pretenders came to Rockmount twice in 2009.  Here they are August 23 with Rockmount on stage.  Eric Heywood has on classic shadow plaid shirt #620.  Nick Wilkinson and James Walbourne are wearing our vintage jacket #1110 and James has on black saddle stitch shirt #6801.



LA TIMES:   ROCKMOUNT Shirts from Brokeback at the Autry Museum

The tale of two shirts continues.  ROCKMOUNT made these shirts, along with many more in the film.   Director Ang Lee personally asked if he could use our shirts in the movie. 

The plaid is Rockmount's classic sawtooth model, the longest running shirt design in America.  While the exact plaid pattern sold out, similar ones are available.   The denim shirt, No. 0369, is in stock.  These two shirts sold at auction for over $101,000 making them the most expensive articles of clothing sold from a movie, even more than the ruby slippers!

If the Academy Awards included an Oscar for shirts, these would have won surely.

-- Steve Weil, Rockmount

A plaid button-down over a simple blue denim shirt evoked more emotion from the reticent Ennis Del Mar than any words Heath Ledger could have spoken in the Oscar-winning film “Brokeback Mountain."

Those two iconic shirts worn by Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal that played such a pivotal role in the film are currently on display in the Autry National Center museum’s Imagination Gallery.

Local collector Tom Gregory purchased the shirts three years ago in an EBay auction for charity for $101,000. He merely hung the shirts on the wall in his office until author Gregory Hinton called him last New Year’s Eve.

“I was doing researching on ‘Night Rodeo,’ my fifth novel about my dad Kip (former editor of the Cody Enterprise) and wondered what happened to the shirts that were such an important prop in the film,” Hinton said. He tracked down Gregory and pitched the idea to the Autry.    

“The shirts hold deep meaning for so many, especially those 50 and older that could relate to the anguish and isolation of Ennis,” said Gregory.  

The Autry is known for exploring all peoples of the American West, and he thought it was the perfect museum to display the shirts. Along the way Jeffrey Richardson, assistant curator for film and popular culture at the Autry, got involved and was instrumental in accelerating the project and pulling it together in six months. 

Gregory’s only request in loaning the shirts for display: that they always remain together, entwined.

“They have remained that way since the filmed wrapped and will always remain that way under my watch,” said Gregory, who is also a radio commentator and Broadway producer (“Guys and Dolls” at the Nederlander Theater).

The shirts are part of a re-installation of the Contemporary Westerns case that displays memorabilia and art from significant films since the 1970s, such as “Unforgiven” and “Tom Horn.”

Accompanying the "Brokeback" wardrobe pieces are mannequins of Clint Eastwood from “Unforgiven” and “Pale Rider,” Steve McQueen from “Tom Horn” and Jeff Bridges from “Wild Bill,” as well as gun belts and revolvers from the western comedy spoof “Three Amigos!” 

-- Liesl Bradner


AMERICAN COWBOY MAGAZINE Industry Profile: "Styled in the West" 


The Denver Post
May 17, 2009

Books, Regional Nonfiction
By Sandra Dallas

Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO, by Steven E. Weil, $15.95.
Many years ago, someone wrote a novel titled "Men to Match My Mountains." Throughout its history, the West had been blessed with men of vision and action. Just ask Steven E. Weil, whose grandfather was known affectionately as Papa Jack to nearly everybody in Denver.

Papa Jack Weil, America's oldest CEO, died last August at age 107, still in the saddle of Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co., the business he founded in 1946.

Also known as Jack A. (his son, who predeceased him by a few months, was Jack B.), Papa Jack invented the Western shirt, with its distinctive yoke, shotgun cuffs, sawtooth or smile pockets and snap buttons. The shirt is iconic, worn by Robert Redford, Eric Clapton, the actors in the movie "Brokeback Mountain" and almost anybody who admires the cowboy life.
But it was not just the design that made Rockmount an institution, according to Steve, who now runs the company in Lower Downtown Denver. "Ask Papa Jack" is the story of how Jack A's philosophy of quality, hard work, financial prudence and loyalty permeated the company.

Family memoirs tend to be, well, a little boring. But not this one. Compiled by Steve, the book contains stories about the Weil patriarch by everyone from Denver's mayor to Steve's young son. There are pictures of family and company, nuggets of Papa Jack's wisdom, vignettes of his life. This is not just a paean to the family patriarch, but a sometimes humorous look at a crusty old man who was an awful driver and a smart aleck, but who was a stickler for old-fashioned values that ruled his life and his company.
And yes, there are nuggets that will help you run a company.



Rockmount Ranch Wear Owner Remembers "Papa Jack" - CPR Colorado Matters, 4/26/09

Click here to listen to the interview.
Click here to view

Ryan Warner talks with Steve Weil about his new book, "Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World’s Oldest CEO." Jack A. Weil, who died last year at 107, founded Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946. (Originally aired Apr. 24, 2009)




Parker:  "Ask Papa Jack" Booksigning

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist

Book signing.
The LoDo Tattered Cover is hosting a book signing of the recently released "Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO," by grandson Steve Weil, at 7:30 tonight. The event will be filmed for a documentary.

on a woman drooling over the parade of foxy firefighters at the Fired Up for Kids 2010 calendar contest at the Exdo Event Center on Friday: "Cocktails and six-packs, that's all you need."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail



Papa Jack’s Tales Preserved

Book written on Rockmount founder

Gene Davis, DDN Staff Writer

Thursday, April 2, 2009


‘ASK PAPA JACK’ — Papa Jack and his grandson Steve Weil of Rockmount Ranch Wear. Weil
 has written a new book, “Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World’s Oldest CEO,” to share the stories of his grandfather. Weil will be appearing at Tattered Cover tonight.

The personable Denver businessman who believed the West was not a place but a state of mind has been memorialized in a new book that was written by his grandson.
“Papa” Jack Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, was the oldest CEO in the world when he died last year at the age of 107. As anyone who got to meet Papa Jack can attest to, the personable entrepreneur knew how to tell a story. 

Steve Weil, Papa Jack’s grandson who has taken over running Rockmount since his grandfather’s death, has collected some of his favorite Papa Jack stories and put them in the new book “Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World’s Oldest CEO.”

“My grandfather was an extraordinary man whose life spanned more than a century, from horse and buggies to the Internet,” Weil said. “He had the most wonderful stories that entertained us for years.”

Weil said he wanted to put those stories on paper, as well as consolidate some of the praise that was doted on Papa Jack by the media. The motivation led to Weil writing his second book, the first being “Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion.”
Weil said while his grandfather was famous for his shirts, he was loved for his warmth, humanity and easy smile. Countless people got to know Papa Jack because he didn’t separate himself from his customers, instead choosing to personally greet the people who came to his landmark store almost every day.

“The thing that was amazing about Papa Jack is that he was many things to many people,” Weil said. “I’m still finding out things about him that I never knew, despite working with him since I was of working age.” 

While Papa Jack is certainly more accomplished than most grandfathers, the enthusiastic way the stories are presented should resonate with anyone who ever wanted to preserve their favorite family tales. That’s exactly what Weil has done; share the stories from his legendary, but still very human, grandfather that can still bring a smile to everyone. 

“Storytelling is a much more powerful medium then what we get from sitting in front of screens,” said Weil. “Sadly, we don’t hear good storytellers very much these days … But what you impart in just a few minutes in good storytelling is more worthwhile than hours of mindless screens.”

Weil is appearing at Tattered Cover tonight to sign copies of his new book. Weil will also be showing some slides, as well as encouraging anyone with a good Papa Jack story to speak up.




Click the image to view a larger version.

Local News

Book honors 'Papa' Jack, late pioneer of Western fashion

By Dan Shaw
Sunday, March 29, 2009

Americans have long enjoyed reading collections of the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln and other national figures.
Readers with those tastes also might enjoy a book about an Evansville native. "Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO" takes as its subject Jack A. Weil, the inventor of the modern Western shirt.

The book jacket of the collected wit and wisdom of Jack Weil.

The book jacket of the collected wit and wisdom of Jack Weil.

Wisdom of 'Papa' Jack
Quotes from "Papa" Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear:
"The West is not a place. It's a state of mind."

"Pick a job you love. There is no more drudgery than a job you disdain."

"I've always believed we were never selling just the cowboy — we sell the romance of the West. That's so much more."

During the economic troubles of the 1970s, he wrote, "A few of us remember the 1930s, I was there. The world is not coming to its end, we have simply a long-due settling up of follies and perhaps greed."

"The government predicts possible 7 percent unemployment. If it goes to 10 percent, there will still be 90 percent working, consuming, buying."

On the net
"Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO" is sold at the Web site of Rockmount Ranch Wear at It also can be found at many bookstores.

"Papa" Jack, as he was known to many, was born in 1901. Only with his death in August, at 107, did he relinquish the title of chief executive officer of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the Denver company he founded in 1946.

Any life lived so long builds a storehouse of experience. "Papa" Jack drew much from that source and imparted it to family and friends over the years.

The task of assembling it fell to Steve Weil, his grandson, who began working on "Ask Papa Jack" in 2007.

"The stories have been told in our family all our lives," Steve Weil said. "They have burned themselves into our psyche."

Many of the anecdotes and witticisms in the book concern business. Others delve into romance, integrity and the art of driving. The book's penultimate chapter discusses longevity — something "Papa" Jack knew more about than most.

Never one for exercise, he attributed his long life to other good habits. He avoided smoking until he was 40 and quit when he was 60.
He joked, "It's not that you live longer after giving up cigarettes. It just seems longer."

A reporter once asked "Papa" Jack how he bested competitors. "Because they're all in the cemetery," was the reply.

But Steve Weil says it would be an oversimplification to reduce his grandfather's success to the mere ability to stick around.
Solid principles

Far more important, he said, was a strict adherence to old-fashioned business principles; rather than borrow money to invest in Rockmount, "Papa" Jack would re-invest the company's profits.

Steve Weil also credits "Papa" Jack's refusal to import shirts from overseas. Rockmount still makes most its products within the United States.

"While we have styles from Paris and others from Italy, Western came from this country and it went everywhere," "Papa" Jack once said.

Another priority was the avoidance of inferior materials. "He had a lifelong distaste for chain stores and everything they do to drive down the quality of life," Steve Weil said.

"Papa" Jack was fond of saying "There is no Westerner like an Easterner." His father emigrated from France at the start of the Franco-Prussian War, coming to Southwestern Indiana to work as a cattle trader.

It was in Evansville that "Papa" Jack entered the clothing business. His first serious job was at the D.S. Bernstein Overall Factory, which made dungarees in a building on Fulton Avenue.

A subsequent attempt at starting his first business failed. "Papa" Jack went to work for a Chicago firm, his main supplier, to pay off debts and improve his fortunes, becoming a salesman with territories in the East and South.

It was that work which, in 1928, led him to Denver. Less than two decades later, he was on his own again, this time with a plan to improve the quality and style of the Western shirt.Innovative fashion

He accomplished the goal through several innovations. "Papa" Jack's Western shirts were the first to have snap buttons, sawtooth pockets, a tapered fit and yokes — which broaden the shoulders. He also is responsible for the widespread sale of bolo ties.
A proof of his success is that few could imagine Western apparel with any other look. His shirts hang in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Any subsequent design changes have been tempered by a recognition of what makes Rockmount's products unique.

"We build the brand rather than changing it every season," Steve Weil said. "Our design is considered classic American fashion."
"Papa" Jack's careful provisions not only ensured a livelihood for himself, but for his grandson and his son, Jack B. Weil, who also died last year. Steve Weil said it's rare for a business to stay within a family through three generations.

Steve Weil said he has long been saving material for "Ask Papa Jack." The bulk comes from the stories his grandfather told over and over again.

He began writing them down whenever they occurred to him, morning, day or night.

Then there were the press clipping from interviews. "Papa" Jack's words have been in The New York Times, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News and the Courier & Press, along with broadcasts by CNN and National Public Radio.

"Every time he told a story, it was verbatim," Steve Weil said. "I truly believe he had a photographic memory. He could remember the layout of Evansville from when he was a child."




March 26, 2009, Business

Parker: Aussies, Danes make themselves at home

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist

Some would say Visit Denver's Jayne Buck is the hostess with the mostest.

During a tour of LoDo on Wednesday with newspaper writers from Sydney and Melbourne, one Aussie mentioned he was looking for cowboy boots.

Buck led the shopper into Rockmount Ranch Wear on Wazee Street.

"When we arrived, the staff told us that another Australian was already shopping there," Buck said. "The Aussies met each other, and being the Visit Denver vice president of tourism, I asked the other gentleman if he was here for a meeting or for a vacation."
The shopper told Buck, "I took a short flight to Denver from Vegas, where I am at a meeting. I have been buying Rockmount for a decade and I have bought some things online, but I decided that it's better to come shop in person in Denver, so here I am."
The happy hunter left with a half-dozen signature snap-front shirts.

on a grandfather and his granddaughter:

"Do you know how many living great-grandmothers you have?"


"Can you name them?"

"They already have names!"


April 2, 2009
by Patricia Calhoun, Editor

Grandfather Knows Best

Jack A. Weil was the oldest still-working CEO in the country when he passed away last summer at the age of 107 - and the founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear hasn't quit working yet. Cleaning up the store at 1626 Wazee Street last month, his granddaughter-in-law came across a manifesto that Jack A. had written more than thirty years ago, during another recession, and made into a poster.

"A few of us can remember the 1930s," he began. "I was there.  The world is not coming to its end, we have simply a long-due settling-up of follies and perhaps greed. Evaluate today's conditions sanely..  We have the know-how and the drive to cure our man-made ills, with old-fashioned common sense, work, judgement."

Those words of wisdom arrived too late for grandson Steve Weil to include in his book, Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO. But his grandfather had already given Steve more than enough to work with, as he'll prove at a free slide show and book-signing at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the LoDo Tattered Cover, 1628 16th Street.

For more information, go to or call 303-436-1070.


March 23, 2009

What's right with American business?  Papa Jack's rules offer a reminder.

Holy Moses.

How do you explain today's toxic Wall Street environment to a child?  The unethical and criminal behavior tied to million dollar bonuses, billion dollar ponzi schemes, unscrupulous fund managers, trillion dollar tax-payer funded just seems to go on and on.  While you'd like to think that these actions are tied to just a few bad apples, as it turns out, the greed and corruption is inherently systematic and its effects are being felt in every corner of America.

Last week, I found myself trying to explain to my 9-year-old stepson why everyone was mad about the taxpayer-funded million dollar AIG bonuses.

"Let's say you had an allowance, or a 'salary' of $10 per-week," I explained.  "Every week, you were supposed to do your chores, and do them well: take out the trash, feed your cat and the fish, set the table for dinner, clean your room, help wash the car, and so forth.  If you did those chores, and did them well, we'd pay you for doing those chores.  If you were responsible and did your chores really well, with no sass, whining or complaining, and your chores were actually done so well they added value to the household - for example you helped saved your mother and I time so we could work harder and bring home more money into the family budget - you would get a big bonus at the end of the year!"

His eyes got big at the thought of it.

"Now let’s say you didn't do your chores.  The fish died, the trash kept piling up, the cat ran away because he was hungry, we always had to clean your room and kept finding smelly socks everywhere...all because you refused to do the work you had promised to do.  As a matter of fact, because you didn't do your chores, your Mom and I had to work harder and harder and had to neglect other things, to the point that at the end of the year, we had to borrow money to pay someone to collect the trash, we had to buy a new cat and we actually lost a lot of money.  And yet, you still expected to be paid and to get a bonus at the end of the year!"

His eyes squinted.  "You mean I wouldn't have to work hard, or do the things I promised but I still get paid and I still get a bonus?  That's a pretty sweet deal!"

My heart sunk.

"Tell the truth and you'll never have to remember what you said."
- 'Papa' Jack Weil

My good friend Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, recently published a book about his grandfather entitled, Ask Papa Jack, Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO.

You may have heard of Papa Jack.  He was the founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear and up until his death last year at the age of 107, he was considered the world's oldest CEO.  For those of you lucky to have met Papa Jack (he was still greeting customers at his LoDo store up until a couple weeks before his death) you know his life as a successful businessman was intricately tied to the simple rules of ethics, integrity, fair play, honesty and goodness.

Ask Papa Jack is a good reminder that we needn't be consumed with the cynicism and anger of the Wall Street scandals.  The majority of businesses in this country are small businesses; companies started and run by well-meaning entrepreneurs who continue to operate at the same level of ethics and integrity as outlined in Ask Papa Jack.

One of my favorite 'Papaisms' is from a story in the book when Steve was 23 years old and about to apply for his first credit card.

"I asked my grandfather, 'What do I say on the credit card application about my length of employment?  I have worked here since high school?...'  His reply burned itself into my fiber.  'Tell the truth and you'll never have to remember what you said.'..."

Ask Papa Jack contains stories and sayings that not only help define Papa Jack's philosophies and principals, but helps define a time-tested era from not too long ago that built capitalism based on a foundation of ethics, honesty, personal integrity and fair play.  Perhaps some might say it is a naive approach to business in a day where everything seems to be commoditized; where American creativity and ingenuity appears to be continuously devalued through outsourcing, global corporate mergers and acquisitions, big box discount retailing and a homogenous approach to marketing and branding. 

I keep telling everyone who will listen that our country is resilient.   Perhaps what is going on right now is a much-needed wakeup call that we all need to heed; a frantic reverse 911 to the American conscious that is reminding us that we need to live within our means and that in fact, prosperity and happiness are not defined by the, the latest technology, the biggest house, the largest car, the most expensive clothes, an iPhone, a $5.00 Starbucks or the 80-hour work week.  Could it possibly be that peace of mind is not defined by cost or expense at all?  That in fact the greatest contentment in our short time on earth is actually attributed to the simple virtues defined by friends, family, health and the satisfaction you feel from an honest day's work?  And lets not forget that we despite the endless stream of bad news about Wall Street, we still live in a country where the very real possibility continues to exist that anyone can succeed through integrity, ethics and good old fashion hard work, honesty and trustworthiness.  Read Ask Papa Jack and you'll realize how much real wisdom is packed into the mind of a 107-year-old.

To order Ask Papa Jack, Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO, go to or visit Rockmount at 16th and Wazee in LoDo.  Steve Weil will be talking about his grandfather, reading from the book and signing copies on April 2, 2009 at the Tattered Cover in LoDo beginning at 7:30 p.m.



Business News

March 20, 2009

Weil's words of wisdom not wearing thin

By Penny Parker
Denver Post Columnist

Jack A. "Papa Jack" Weil didn't live to see this recession. The Rockmount Ranch Wear founder and world's oldest CEO died in August at age 107.

His grandson and Rockmount honcho Steve Weil has written a love letter to his grandfather in the book "Ask Papa Jack: Wisdom of the World's Oldest CEO," which hits bookshelves today ($15.95, Johnson Books).

The book chronicles the times and trials of a self-confessed workaholic who pioneered the snap-front Western shirt. Scattered throughout the pages are what Steve calls "Papa-isms" — wise words to live by.

The following, which he wrote in 1975, could apply to the country's financial crises today:

"A few of us remember the 1930s, I was there. The world is not coming to its end, we have simply a long-due settling-up of follies and perhaps greed. Evaluate today's conditions sanely: our press reports lay-offs, shutdowns, unemployment, tight money, stock market drops — what have you."

Steve's father, Jack B. Weil, proceeded Jack A. in death. Steve is left to carry on the legacy of the two men who had such a profound influence on his life.

Another Papa-ism: "I was always thinking of something new. But that's me. I'm a dreamer. And I never stopped enjoying myself, not for a minute."

Venga aquí.
In addition to handing out awards to deserving community members during the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Luncheon on Thursday at the Marriott City Center, chamber CEO Jeff Campos seized the opportunity to promote the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce national convention coming to Denver on Sept. 16-19.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber gathering will bring 3,500 Latino business owners, entrepreneurs, workshops, business planning and networking opportunities, Campos told the sold-out lunch bunch.

TAG, you're it.
Top toque Troy Guard (nine75, Ocean, Zengo) will open his restaurant TAG (his initials and the name of his bulldog) on Larimer Square for dinner only on May 18. Guard said he'll add lunch to the menu June-ish, with breakfast starting late summer or early fall. The eatery is a joint venture between the chef and the Larimer Group.

A woman referring to a man with a laptop who was blogging at the Fainting Goat: "I'm sorry, but seriously, who's 40 years old and blogs?"

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-630 AM. Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail

March 9, 2009


Friday, December 26, 2008

Steve Weil puts his own stamp on Rockmount

Denver Business Journal - by Bruce Goldberg


Kathleen Lavine
Steven Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, with his dog, Wazee.

Steve Weil recalls the day that Rockmount Ranch Wear finally decided to open a retail store, after holding out as wholesale only since its founding in 1946.

“We were having lunch at McCormick’s — my father, grandfather and me — sitting at the window,” Weil said. “And we saw people walking away from the Rockmount window because we had signs that said, ‘wholesale.’ I told my father and grandfather we must be stupid; we are sending people several miles away to buy our product, and they may not go that far to get it. They want it here and they want it now. ... We’ve got people walking in the door and we’re sending them away. I said we should add a small retail area, and we did.”

Until then, Rockmount (short for Rocky Mountains) was content to manufacture its signature Western shirts and ship them to retail outlets worldwide — with one order even coming from Antarctica. Movie stars and rock musicians wear them; count Clark Gable (in “The Misfits”), Elvis Presley, Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead and the late Heath Ledger (in “Brokeback Mountain”) among them.
Today, Weil runs the entire operation, following a difficult 2008 in which both his father and grandfather — the famed “Papa Jack” — died.

First, his father, Jack B. Weil, died Jan. 22 at age 79. Then company founder Jack A. Weil — renowned for coming to work every day well after his 100th birthday, and considered the oldest CEO in the nation — died Aug. 13 at age 107.
He’s known worldwide for creating the Western snap-button shirts.

“Emotionally, the changes are monumental, because my father and grandfather were my board of directors, my mentors, my advisers, and the people I went to on the hard questions,” Weil said. “My father died in January, and I still had my grandfather coming to work every day, and that was very comforting. But on August 14, when I drove down 18th Street, I realized that for the first time since 1954, there was going to be only one generation of Weils at the store.”

Weil, 51, began preparing for this time long ago, starting to run the business about 10 years ago. He added retail and a website, and guided a store renovation in 2005. But perhaps his most difficult decision was to outsource some manufacturing outside the United States. He blames NAFTA for that, claiming it “put out of business 90 percent of the U.S. textile industry. ... We remained committed to our domestic production to the fullest extent possible. However, there are certain categories or products that are simply impossible to produce in the United States today.”

A visitor to the Rockmount store at 1626 Wazee St. — which includes a small museum upstairs that displays saddles, quilts and other items — will get a strong Western feel, ranging from children’s “Cowboy” lunchboxes to a wide variety of Western shirts, cowboy hats, blankets and even Western-themed ties. And two “Jack A. Weil Boulevard” signs hang, remnants of the city’s annual acknowledgement of the founder’s birthday.

“I will tell you that notoriety was something we found amusing, because it wasn’t what we came here to do, but it was a byproduct,” Weil said. “We were always amused by it, because it was unexpected.
“We’re a family business done good. The vast majority of businesses never make it to their second generation, let alone a third; only about 7 percent reach their third generation.” | 303-803-9226


ThreePerfectDays / Denver
Article by: Linda Hayes / Photography by Joshua Paul

Set in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and long overshadowed by the high-profile ski towns located within “them thar hills,” the Mile High City of Denver is a formidable—and contemporary— destination in its own right.

Denver’s savvy restaurants, state-of-the-art sporting venues, and booming art and cultural scene are making regular appearances on national best-of lists. In addition to having a thriving downtown and hip historic districts like LoDo, Denver is showing its diversity in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Highlands and the ArtDistrict on Santa Fe. A strong focus on sustainability means the city
is green even in winter. And you’ll enjoy plenty of the white stuff during your three days, with one fast-track train trip up to city-owned Winter Park Resort, a fun destination for skiers and nonskiers alike.

DAY ONE /You’ll warm right away to the cosmopolitan vibe and good-natured staff at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver. The downtown location puts you in the perfect position for venturing out and about, and your plush Club Level room (with a Rolls-Royce Phantom to chauffeur you around) adds luxury to your stay. After a leisurely Club Lounge breakfast, grab a map from the Club Concierge and hit the streets. Dress warmly; the sun might be shining brightly, but mornings can be chilly. LoDo is your destination, a decidedly hip section of town, where century-old warehouses and Victorian buildings house an eclectic collection of restaurants, galleries, and shops.

From the hotel, walk to pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall, and then stroll (or catch one of the hybrid-electric buses) up a half-dozen blocks to Wazee Street. At Rockmount Ranch Wear, you can dress yourself from head to toe in classic Western duds, including the original snap-button shirts by “Papa Jack” Weil, who founded the place in 1946. He worked here every day, outfitting the likes of Tom Hanks and Dwight Yoakam, until he passed away this past August at 107. His grandson, Steve, runs things now, and the creaky wooden floors and Old West hospitality are the same as they ever were.

Continue along 16th Street to the 20,000-square-foot landmark outpost of the famed Tattered Cover Book Store, one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Peruse the shelves for fiction, periodicals, or Colorado coffee-table books; then cozy up in one of the nooks and crannies. On the way out, grab a latte at the coffee bar, and set off to the snazzy new Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

MCA Denver, as it’s known, is easy to spot. Just look for the electric light heart-and-dagger sculpture at the entrance of the David Adjaye–designed, environmentally sustainable museum. Six exhibition spaces within the translucent walls cover such themes as photography, new media, and paper works. Grab lunch at the MCA Café—try a tasty Colorado cheese plate and green tea.

If you’re up for a brisk winter walk, hoof it to Highlands via the striking Denver Millennium Bridge, which resembles a ship’s sails as it spans the South Platte River (or catch a cab). Your destination is West 15th Street, and the agenda is shopping. Animal lovers will appreciate the pet-friendly fabrics, custom dog beds, and “furniture for you and your human” at The Livable Home. The Mona Lucero boutique features fashionable finds such as clothing, jewelry, and collectibles by up-and-coming Colorado designers, including Lucero herself. Colorful Red Door Swingin’ overflows with messenger bags, baby booties, and an array of other items.

By now, the sun has set and hunger has surely set in. You have a reservation for dinner at Duo Restaurant, a quick cab ride away. All brick walls and plank floors, with an open kitchen in back, this buzzing restaurant is popular for chef John Broening’s seasonal dishes, as well as favorites like free-range buttermilk-fried chicken with Hoppin’ John bacon or grilled flatiron steak with fresh parsley and anchovy salsa verde. Afterward, try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

Now’s a good time to summon the hotel’s Rolls, but instead of going directly back to the hotel, stop off at The Cruise Room in the historic Oxford Hotel. There, amid the art deco décor and trendy LoDo crowd, you can sip a Pink Flamingo, or any of 35 libations from the legendary martini list. Thus fortified, the short trek back to The Ritz is a breeze.

continue to Day 2...

Download this week's audio edition

Jack Weil

Aug 28th 2008
The Economist

Jack A. Weil, patriarch of western clothing, died on August 13th, aged 107


IN THE annals of fashion the snap-fastener, or press-stud, holds a humble place. Few care that it was invented in Germany, as the Federknopf-Verschluss, in the 1880s. Not many appreciate that some varieties have discs and grooves, while others boast sockets with studs. And almost no one considers that they give a man style. But Jack Weil did.

Mr Weil reckoned that a cowboy on a horse, if wearing a shirt with buttons, was liable to get snagged on sagebrush or cactus or, worse than that, get a steerhorn straight through his fancy buttonhole. He was pretty certain, too, that a cowboy losing a button would feel disinclined to sew it on again. The answer to all those difficulties was to make shirts with snap-fasteners. And for 62 years, in a red-brick warehouse in the LoDo district of Denver, Mr Weil did exactly that.

He also added a few more customisings. Pockets with sawtooth flaps, to keep tobacco in; a yoke fit, to broaden out the shoulders; body-hugging seams, to show the fine muscles of a cattleman; and deep cuffs. The hats, belts, buckles and bolo ties, which he also commercialised, were optional. But the snap-fasteners were de rigueur: topped with pearl and backed with tin, square or circular or diamond-shaped, strong enough to pass without cracking through the wringer of a 1940s washing-machine, and flash enough to turn heads on the streets of Denver on a Saturday night. “A cinch”, as Mr Weil proudly said.

Until he created his shirts, there was no distinctively western look in American couture. There were cowboys; but they wore dusty working clothes, accessorised with sweaty bandannas and clanking spurs, that no one much cared to copy. Indeed, Mr Weil early on in his career made work-gear for cowboys, and learnt an important fact: they had no money. If he wanted to make any money himself, he would have to appeal not to the catwalk instincts of cattlemen, which were hard to spot, but to wannabe easterner cowboys who lived in, say, New York. Fortunately, there were plenty of them.

His shirts, sold after 1946 through his company, Rockmount Ranch Wear, became extremely famous. The Premium Blue Flannel Plaid was worn by Ronald Reagan, and the Pink Gabardine by Bob Dylan. Eric Clapton liked the diamond-snap number; Robert Redford in “The Horse Whisperer” wore a rayon plaid. Mr Weil’s company clad Elvis Presley, John Travolta and almost everyone, gay or straight, in “Brokeback Mountain”. It also made the shirts, in red, white and blue, for the Colorado House delegation at this year’s Democratic convention. Mr Weil very narrowly missed seeing them, but that would not have troubled him. He thought that “any young man worth his salt” ought to be a Democrat; but that once he had a bit of money, the only way to keep hold of it was to turn Republican.

In his long, long life, Mr Weil accumulated plenty of simple business sense. He knew J.C. Penney, and thought him smart. Levi-Strauss was a nice fellow, but got too big for his britches; Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, was a “hillbilly son of a bitch”. Walton constantly harassed him to supply Wal-Mart with shirts, but Mr Weil never wanted any customer to take more than 5% of his business. He felt he would lose control that way, and he considered discounters low-life in general. What mattered were two things, quality, and knowing the customer: which was why, until a few weeks before his death, “Papa Jack” was always to be found from 8am till noon at his front desk in the company store on Wazee Street, poring over the past-due accounts and shaking hands with whoever came in, asking “Where you from?” and frequently being astounded at the answer.

Republican or not, globalisation was lost on him. He insisted that his shirts were manufactured in America. Sure, it cost more than getting them sewn in China; but if Chinese people made them, that would take jobs from Americans and mean they couldn’t buy his shirts anyway. When Reagan declared once that America had become a service economy, Mr Weil wrote to him complaining that “where I come from in southern Indiana, servicing meant when you took the mare to the stud.” Reagan gently pointed out to “Jack” that things were less simple in Washington.

Ungartered socks

Much as he loved them, Mr Weil had not begun in shirts. The farm boy had started off, at $25 a week, inspecting navy dungarees, and had moved on eventually to be a travelling rep for Paris Garters (“Not once, but many times”, the advert ran, “she had noticed his ungartered socks crumpling down around his shoe tops.”) His territory ran from the Mexican border to the Canadian. He supposed, diffidently, that he might need a car; though something better than the Model-T Ford he first drove, with wire wheels attached so loosely that if you backed up the street too far, they fell off.

He arrived in Denver in 1928 to find a rough-and-rumble cow-town of 200,000 people, famous mostly for the gold that had been discovered there. By his 107th year, as he noted with wonder, it was a city of 2m; and there was a Jack A. Weil Way in it, besides his own face looking down from the billboards of the Denver Visitors Bureau. And he, his grandson liked to say, had become the Henry Ford of the western look, snap-fasteners and all.


Chicago Tribune

August 24, 2008

Denver hosts the Democrats—and a ton of fun

By Anne Spiselman | Special to the Chicago Tribune
For the first time in a century, the Democratic National Convention is in Denver. The Mile High City will be jammed with candidates, delegates, journalists, lobbyists and assorted hangers-on this week, but soon after is a fine time to visit. You'll find an expanding metropolis that manages to retain a compact feel, as well as increasingly "in" neighborhoods with names like LoDo (Lower Downtown) and LoHi (Lower Highlands). Getting around on foot or public transportation is easy, and the buses that run along the 16th Street Mall (a pedestrian shopping strip) are free. For more, go to

Colorado State Capitol

The white granite, gold leaf-domed Colorado State Capitol, designed by Elijah E. Myers and built in the 1890s with mostly local materials, is a must-see, whether you take a free 45-minute tour or wander around by yourself. Be sure to notice Denverite Alan True's murals depicting Colorado water use, bronze elevator doors chronicling the state's history and the council chambers. Presidential portraits lining the third-floor rotunda were donated in 1979 with a trust fund to keep the gallery updated in perpetuity, so Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will join them soon. Make an appointment to visit the Dome for panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. A tip: Stand on the 13th step on the west side of the building and you're exactly one mile above sea level.

Denver Art Museum

Daniel Libeskind designed the dramatic, titanium-clad Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which opened in 2006 and connects to Gio Ponti's 1971 North Building via a glassed-in second-floor bridge. More than 50,000 square feet—nary a straight wall, tons of maze-like layouts—showcase modern and contemporary, Oceanic and Western American art as well as temporary exhibits, among them "Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism" (through Sept. 7).

Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver

Opened with great fanfare last October, this striking glass box designed by architect David Adjaye is the first contemporary art museum in the country to obtain Gold LEED certification as a "green" building and deserves kudos for taking advantage of natural light. Exhibits are temporary. Best bet: Hang out at the rooftop MCA Cafe and enjoy the garden and people-watching.

Related links

If you go

Larimer Square

Saved from destruction in the 1960s and renovated as an urban-renewal project, Denver's oldest block is lined with Victorian brick buildings housing trendy stores, restaurants and night spots. Start by shopping for Western- and Asian-influenced clothing and accessories at Cry Baby Ranch, have a glass of bubbly at Corridor 44, the city's first Champagne bar, and finish with fresh bacon on curry-scented chickpea puree and grilled Colorado lamb at Rioja.

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Denver's quirkiest museum feels more like a classy antiques shop, thanks to the organized jumble of decorative arts, regional art (with an emphasis on Colorado Modernism) and Vance Kirkland paintings. Kirkland used the original 1910-11 Arts and Crafts building as his art school/studio, surrounding himself with works by his contemporaries, as well as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and other beautifully designed objects. His heir, Hugh Grant, kept adding to the furniture, ceramics, glassware, etc., eventually expanding the building and opening to the public in 2003. Afterward, walk up the street to Liks Ice Cream Parlor for creamy house-made ice cream in myriad flavors, quite a few of them invented by customers.

Denver Performing Arts Complex

Ten venues make up the country's second-largest performing arts complex. The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which opened in 2005 as the state-of-the-art home of Opera Colorado, is in the building that originally was the multipurpose Municipal Auditorium, where the 1908 Democratic National Convention took place.

Big Blue Bear

More than 300 public artworks dot the city, and part of the fun is coming upon them by surprise. Everybody loves the 40-foot-high, vibrant blue bear peeking in the windows of the Colorado Convention Center. Its real title is "I See What You Mean," and artist Lawrence Argent, who created it in 2005 out of steel encased in a concrete/fiberglass composite, has called it his "stylized representation of native fauna."

Rockmount Ranch Wear

No enterprise epitomizes Denver's pioneer spirit more than Rockmount, started in 1946 and known for making the first Western shirts with snaps. Worn in dozens of films by stars ranging from Elvis Presley to Meg Ryan, the signature "diamond" snap, "sawtooth" pocket designs in more than 100 fabrics fill the racks, complemented by skirts, boots, hats, belts and everything else a cowboy or cowgirl needs.

The Democratic National Convention

'Cowtown' or Cosmopolitan? Denver Manages Its Image

by Kirk Siegler

Listen Now [4 min 58 sec] add to playlist

Related NPR Stories

  • Aug. 20, 2008

Democrats Party In Denver Like It's 1908

Day to Day, August 22, 2008 · Denver is debating how it wants to be portrayed as thousands of journalists and delegates arrive for the Democratic National Convention. But Denverites are split over whether to play up the city's folksy western reputation or its emergence as a cultured city.

Kirk Siegler reports for KUNC.

Oldest CEO And Popularizer Of Cowboy Shirts Dies

Listen Now [3 min 1 sec] add to playlist


Courtesy Rockmount Ranch Wear
Jack Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, died Wednesday.
See Weil's Cowboy Shirts

All Things Considered, August 15, 2008 · Jack Weil, who was said to be the oldest working CEO in America, has died at the age of 107. "Papa Jack" — as he was fondly known — founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946 in Denver. His snap-buttoned shirts were a must-have for anyone who wanted to look like a cowboy — from Clark Gable to Elvis Presley to Eric Clapton to Heath Ledger.

His grandson Steve Weil calls Jack Weil "very inspiring."

"His work was his second romance — next to his marriage," he says.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jack A. Weil, 107; designed, popularized cowboy shirts with snap fasteners


Barry Gutierrez / Associated Press
Jack Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, puts on his hat at company headquarters in Denver last year. “You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone,” he once said.

By Martin Weil, Washington Post
August 19, 2008
Jack A. Weil, a celebrated entrepreneur of the American West who added snaps and snappiness to cowboy shirts and then sold the garments to thousands who never saw the sagebrush, died Wednesday at his home in Denver. He was 107.

As founder and head of Rockmount Ranch Wear, Weil was regarded as a successful businessman and a symbol of longevity.

  • Jack Weil

Jack Weil

Considered the Henry Ford of the western shirt and a major force behind a notably American fashion, he was also said to be America's oldest chief executive.

A visionary and a classic innovator, Weil conceived the idea more than 60 years ago that "Westerners needed their own fashion identity," according to grandson Steve Weil.

Aiming to give western wear a look as distinctive as the region's topography and lifestyle, his grandson said, Weil created a slim-fitting shirt with a cut, cuffs, pocketing and fastenings that would make it immediately recognizable.
"Every design element was given a flourish," his grandson said. Distinctive in their dash and flair, the shirts featured a special yoke and elaborate hand embroidery.

Other designers, of course, helped create the western look, but Weil was there at the beginning and was considered "the father of the snap western shirt."

One of his company's designs, saw-toothed pocket flaps and diamond-shaped snap fasteners, is "the longest-running shirt design in America," said his grandson, who is president of Rockmount.

Weil was born March 28, 1901, in Evansville, Ind. His father came from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.

Weil moved to Denver to sell garters for a Chicago firm and later became a partner in a company that sold work wear to cowboys. He began making western shirts based on designs he saw in movies.

In 1946, he founded his own company.

It soon became identified with the snap fastener, which was said to have the advantage of popping open if pulled, thus saving a shirt's fabric from tearing. Weil also popularized the bolo tie.

Known as an inventive marketer and astute businessman, Weil joked that the family "would have starved if we only sold to cowboys," his grandson said.

"You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone," Weil once told the Associated Press.

He popularized his products in many ways, his grandson said, offering buyers around the world wearable symbols of the romance of the West. As a manufacturer, he offered small retailers the same prices as big chains, and felt strongly that when possible his products should be made in the United States.

According to the company, Rockmount shirts have been worn by many entertainers, including the cast of the film "Brokeback Mountain."

"He lived a vibrant life for 107 years and five months," his grandson said, "and he never got tired, until the last few weeks."

Weil's wife, Beatrice, died in 1990. His son, Jack B. Weil, who had been active in the company, died this year.

In addition to his grandson, Weil's survivors include a daughter, Jane Romberg of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; four other grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.


The Denver Post

August 18, 2008

Front page article, continued in Denver and the West

Grandchildren tip hats to "Papa Jack"

By Tom McGhee

Western-wear icon Jack A. Weil once told his grandson that his daily schedule depended on what he found in the obituary page.
"Every morning I read the obits, and if my name is not there, I get dressed and go to work," Steve Weil recalled his grandfather saying, for those gathered at a memorial service Sunday.

Jack Weil, founder and operator of Rockmount Ranch Wear, died last week at 107. He continued to work until he became sick in recent days and is believed to have been the oldest working chief executive.

Weil's adult grandchildren shared tearful and often humorous anecdotes during the service at Temple Emanuel about the man the world knew as the creator of the snap-pocket Western shirt.

Weil was a born storyteller, a compassionate, outspoken, tenacious, ethical and sharp businessman who lived life on his own terms, they said.

People would ask Weil to share the secret to his longevity, said Judy Oksner, and "Papa Jack" would reply that he took a few shots of whiskey each week, just to keep the blood thin.

"The truth about his long life — he just kept going, he didn't know how to quit. Before his 5th birthday he had survived every disease that my kids have been vaccinated against," she added.

He continued to drive his own car until he was 102, giving Oksner some shaky moments. "My theory was if Papa's driving didn't kill him, nothing would."

Weil was widely known as "Papa Jack," but in his family he had another name, said Janet Pollack, his fifth grandchild. "Stinky — unless he was angry with you and he became 'That's Mr. Stinky to you.' "

"Being with Papa was really fun," said Gail Sigman. As a child she would visit the store and run her fingers through piles of sparkling rhinestones he used to add flash to Western shirts.

Weil founded Rockmount in 1946 and designed sawtooth pocket flaps and a diamond-shaped snap for his shirts. The design has been continuously produced in America longer than any other shirt style.

Sigman, who studied business management, decided to write a paper about Rockmount, thinking it would be a simple business to analyze. When she finished, she thought she would be able to tell Weil what he could do to improve.

It didn't work out that way. "He knew all the things that these business management people were telling me," she said.

Weil was devoted to the business — his late wife, Beatrice, called Rockmount his "mistress" — and treated celebrities and common folks with the same unfailing good cheer and honesty. His customers included Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

When Steve Weil would ask his grandfather for advice, Weil would ask why he needed it because the younger man would surely make his own decision. "I asked him because he always knew the right thing to do," Steve Weil said.

Weil passed on a simple message about career, said Steve Weil: "He said pick a job you love — there is no more drudgery than a job you disdain."

Each of Jack Weil's grandchildren worked at the store when they turned 16, though only Steve Weil made it a career. Pollack said: "We all felt, and still feel, proud that Rockmount is our family business."



Jack A. Weil, 107; Entrepreneur Put Style in Western Wear

Jack A. Weil, at the helm of Rockmount Ranch Wear for decades, was said to be the country's oldest chief executive. His clothing was used in "Brokeback Mountain." (By David Zalubowski -- Associated Press)

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 17, 2008; Page C08

Jack A. Weil, a celebrated entrepreneur of the American West, who added snaps and snappiness to cowboy shirts and then sold those shirts to thousands who never saw the sagebrush, died Aug. 13 at his home in Denver. He was 107. The cause of death was not reported.

As founder and head of Rockmount Ranch Wear, Mr. Weil was regarded as a successful businessman and a symbol of longevity.
Considered the Henry Ford of the western shirt and a major force behind a notably American fashion, he was also said to be America's oldest chief executive.

A visionary and a classic innovator, Mr. Weil conceived the idea more than 60 years ago, according to grandson Steve Weil, that "westerners needed their own fashion identity."

Aiming, his grandson said, to give western wear a look as distinctive as the region's topography and lifestyle, Mr. Weil created a slim-fitting shirt that in its cut and its cuffs, its pocketing and its fastenings, was to prove immediately recognizable.
"Every design element was given a flourish," said his grandson. Distinctive in their dash and flair, the shirts featured a special yoke and elaborate hand embroidery.

Others, of course, helped create the western look, but Mr. Weil "was there at the beginning" and was "considered the father of the snap western shirt."

One of his company's designs, with its saw-toothed pocket flaps and its diamond-shaped snap fasteners, is "the longest running shirt design in America," said the grandson, who is company president.

Mr. Weil was born March 28, 1901, in Evansville, Ind., to a father who had come from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.
He moved to Denver to sell garters for a Chicago firm and later became a partner in a company that sold work wear to cowboys. He began making western shirts based on designs he saw in movies.

In 1946, he founded his own company. It soon became identified with the snap fastener, which was said to have the advantage of popping open if pulled, thus saving a shirt's fabric from tearing. Mr. Weil also popularized the bolo tie.

Known as an inventive marketer and astute businessman, Mr. Weil kept his company thriving through principles and practices that he often expressed with pungency and wit. Although Rockmount was famous for cowboy clothing, Mr. Weil joked that the family "would have starved if we only sold to cowboys," his grandson said. "You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone," Mr. Weil once told the Associated Press.

Hence, his grandson said, he popularized his products in many ways, offering buyers around the world wearable symbols of the romance of the West. As a manufacturer, he offered small retailers the same prices as big chains, and felt strongly that to the fullest possible extent his products should be made in the United States.

According to the company, Rockmount shirts have been worn by many entertainers, including the cast of the Academy Award-winning film "Brokeback Mountain."

Survivors include a daughter, Jane Romberg of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; five grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
His wife, Beatrice Weil, died in 1990. His son, Jack B. Weil, who had been prominent in the company for years, died this year.
At the end, his grandson said, Mr. Weil "just gave out."

"He lived a vibrant life for 107 years and 5 months," Steve Weil said, "and he never got tired, until the last few weeks."
When asked for career advice, Mr. Weil would say, "Do what you love." He followed his own advice, his grandson said.


Memorial held for Jack A. Weil 'the universal grandpa'

Hundreds honor man whose business was symbol of West

By John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News

Monday, August 18, 2008
Photo by Ahmad Terry

Jack A. Weil, right, founder of Rockmount Ranchwear, is lead by Mayor John Hickenlooper, left, and Weil's grandson Steve Weil, center, to a 105th birthday celebration in Denver Tuesday Mar. 28, 2006. A portion of Wazee Rd. near 17th St. in downtown Denver was re-named to Jack A. Weil Way was held as part of the celebration. Denver city officials recognize Weil as the oldest active CEO in America.
Photo by Preston Gannaway

LoDo buildings are reflected in the windows of neighboring Rockmount Ranch Wear on Sunday. The shop was closed while more than 200 people gathered across town to remember its founder, Jack Weil. Weil died Wednesday at the age of 107.


Western wear pioneer Jack A. Weil had a saying he would use when people around him started pining for the old days, one of his granddaughters recalled Sunday at a memorial service for the 107-year-old family patriarch.

"Was ain't is," Gail Sigman recalled her grandfather saying. It was one of many lessons he taught her and the rest of their family, she said during a eulogy for her grandfather. Change is the only constant, she said. "Understand it. Get over it. Move on."

Weil's five grandchildren recounted several such lessons to an audience of several hundred people who came to pay their respects during the service at Temple Emmanuel. More than 200 people attended, including Mayor John Hickenlooper, City Auditor Dennis Gallagher and several City Council members.

Since his death Wednesday, the passing of a man whose cowboy apparel business grew into a symbol for Denver and the West has been featured in The New York Times and the CBS Sunday Morning show.

Grandson Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the company his grandfather started in 1946, said he was overwhelmed at the outpouring of attention. But Weil noted his grandfather never let the public attention go to his head during his life.

"He used to say, 'I read the obituaries, and if my name is not there, I get dressed and go to work,' " his grandson recalled. "He went from a family patriarch to a cultural phenomenon. He was kind of a universal grandpa."

Sigman recalled how when she was a college student writing a term paper on management style, she decided to make her grandfather's business a case study. Eventually, she learned that about 90 percent of what she was learning, her grandfather already had been doing.

"He taught me that relationships are everything," she recalled.

Granddaughter Judy Oksner remembered a similar lesson.

"He also taught me that it isn't about getting there, it's about going," she said. "And he just kept going."

She recalled going to see him one recent afternoon when several other relatives also arrived, and she joked that it was like a party.
"Papa Jack told us he had a bottle of champagne and he insisted that he open it, so we toasted him."

Oksner then asked everyone gathered to do likewise, and so everyone in the synagogue raised their hands with an imaginary glass.
Rabbi Steven Foster recalled attending Weil's 105th birthday party: "Papa Jack" would sit in one corner and tell a story to just about everyone who came up to talk with him. Sometimes Weil would tell the same story, knowing full well that he had told the tale before.
"It wasn't so much the story as much as he wanted people to know that he cared for them," Foster recalled.


THEATER | John MooreCurious Theater gave "Papa Jack" stirring tribute in May
By John Moore
Denver Post Theater Critic

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Papa Jack Weil" addresses the crowd at Curious Theatre's "Denver Stories" on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)
"Papa Jack" Weil at a fundraiser for Curious Theatre on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)

Denver icon "Papa Jack" Weil, who died Wednesday at 107, was honored May 21 at Curious Theatre's annual fundraiser, "Denver Stories." The company assigns a playwright to a local celebrity, and the resulting 10-minute plays are then performed by some of Denver's best actors.

Steven Cole Hughes, whose latest play, "Billy Hell," premieres Aug. 29 at the Creede Repertory Theatre, was assigned to Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear and believed to be the oldest working CEO in America before his death.

Hughes' "107 Short Plays About Papa Jack Weil" had fun with the difficulty in finding an actor to play a 107-year-old (that job went to Michael Morgan, 70-something years too young for the role), and telling such a sweeping life story in 10 minutes. The cast also included Erik Sandvold and Rhonda Brown.
Michael Morgan and Rhonda Brown perform "107 Short Plays About Papa Jack Weil" at a fundraiser for Curious Theatre on May 21. (Michael Ensminger)

"He was a genuine American original, and he will be missed by his friends, which has to be about a million people," said Hughes.
That's because Weil talked to every person who came into his store "for as long as he possibly could," Hughes said, "and by the time they left, they were best friends."

Curious founder Chip Walton said Hughes' script was "the best play ever written for this event." When the performance was over, Weil rose from the house and addressed the audience.

"Once Jack starts to tell a story, it's hard to get him to stop," Walton said. "You're kind of a captive audience." Until his grandson got up and said, "Papa Jack: Your 15 minutes of fame are up," which drew a standing ovation — for both.

"The purpose of 'Denver Stories' is to honor those individuals who have done the most for Denver, and I can't imagine anyone more interesting or exciting than Jack," Walton said. "He was one of a kind, a fellow Hoosier, and lived a life full and amazing."
To read Steven Cole Hughes' entire 10-minute play about Jack Weil, click here

The Rocky Mountain News

A hat tip to 'Papa Jack' Weil

By Jane Hoback & Gil Rudawsky

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We lost the oldest CEO in Colorado, and probably in the U.S., this week. Rockmount Ranch Wear founder Jack A. Weil died Wednesday at the age of 107.

Grandson Steve Weil, Rockmount's 49-year-old president, recently told Rocky contributor Bill Gallo that "Papa Jack" had reduced his work schedule in recent times from 12-hour days to five mornings a week. "But he was still active. He loved being the greeter. He talked to 50 people a day."

"My grandfather was to Western shirts what Levi's was to blue jeans," Steve Weil told Gallo. "One of his most remarkable traits was an ability to live on his own terms. That's probably the result of growing up in the early 1900s and enduring the Depression. He was self-made and self-educated, and he had a strong code of ethics."

Papa Jack's legend grew as the clock ticked on his life. In recent years, he was profiled by CBS-TV, National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal, among others. An old-school businessman who valued a handshake over a complex legal contract, he also had an eye for innovation: Rockmount got its first computer in the 1960s, and it nimbly adapted when the U.S. textiles industry fell on hard times. Weil lamented the annihilation of small business by corporate giants: In the London Times, he called Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton a "hillbilly."

After five years of trying, Jay Leno finally landed Papa Jack as a guest on the Tonight Show in 2007. But the show had to come to Denver - in the person of Leno emissary Mo Rocca. Asked which candidate he would favor when the Democratic National Convention hits town, the playful 106-year-old replied: "None of them. I'm a Republican."

Always, his grandson says, he conducted business with grace and good cheer.

"You like me better than your mother?" Papa Jack once asked a retailer who was behind in his payments. "She carried you nine months; I've carried you 10." He did it with a smile, Steve Weil remembers. "He always had a heart, and he never charged interest. His legacy will be that he always treated people the way he wanted to be treated. He had true integrity."|

Rocky Mountain News
Friday, August 15, 2008
by Penny Parker

WEIL'S WAY: I'm sorry, but I can't believe Jack A. "Papa Jack" Weil is gone. I've always thought of him as a Timex watch . . . he just kept on ticking. So the news of his passing Wednesday night at the age of 107 shook me.

The last time I saw him was in May during Curious Theatre Co.'s annual Denver Stories, a series of vignettes about Denver denizens. After the mini-play about him was performed, Jack A. addressed the crowd and continued to tell stories until his grandson and Rockmount Ranch Wear President Steve Weil ended the monologue.

"Papa Jack, it's Andy Warhol on the phone and your 15 minutes are up," Steve teased. It was priceless, as was the vignette that told Jack A.'s story in 107 short plays. So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to reprint some Papa Jack-isms from Denver Stories:

* "I came to Denver in 1928. There were 200 people here; now there's 2 million. Damn Californians!"

* "They say I have an amazing memory for my age. I say, 'Who the hell is going to contradict me?' "

When a New York Times reporter interviewed Weil about the passing of Sam Walton, the Wal-Mart czar who pestered Weil to mass produce shirts for the massive retailer, Weil replied, "I don't have too much to say about him except he was a hillbilly (SOB)."

A remarkable man, a remarkable life, a remarkable legacy. I will miss him dearly. His memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape St.

August 14, 2008

Jack A. Weil, the Cowboy’s Dresser, Dies at 107

Rick Wilking/Reuters, 2006
Jack A. Weil, a garter salesman, breezed into Denver in 1928 in a new Chrysler Roadster to start a new life. He exceeded his hopes and became a king of cowboy couture — almost certainly the first to put snaps on Western shirts (17 on a shirt), and most likely the first to produce bolo ties commercially.

Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co.   A style that became a classic.

His Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Company has sold millions of shirts, including at least one shipment to Antarctica, since it started in 1946. Clark Gable wore one in “The Misfits” with Marilyn Monroe, and Heath Ledger’s shirt in “Brokeback Mountain” — plaid fabric, diamond snaps and saw-tooth pockets — was Style No. 69-39.

Until Wednesday, when he died at 107 in Denver, Mr. Weil was still chief executive of the company he founded and, until just before his death, came to work daily. He was regularly called the oldest chief executive still working.

Known as Papa Jack, Mr. Weil said he owed his longevity to quitting smoking at 60 (after starting at 40), drinking at 90 and eating red meat at 100. He did have a medicinal shot of Jack Daniels twice a week .

In announcing the death, his grandson, Steve Weil, Rockmount’s president, said Mr. Weil was to Western shirts what Henry Ford was to cars, and, indeed, the global spread of cowboy style owes much to him.

The shirt — tailored close to the body, with “yokes” that seem to broaden the shoulders of cowpokes and city slickers alike and often with distinctive “smile” pockets — offers more than snaps. But snaps matter, not least to cowboys who are not handy at sewing. They break loose easily if the shirt is caught on a hostile horn. (They also offer a dramatic way to bare one’s chest, but that might be another story.)

Jack Arnold Weil was born on March 28, 1901, in Evansville, Ind., where his father, Abraham, had come to avoid being impressed into the Prussian army in the Franco-Prussian War.

Jack and his brother, Edgar, delivered newspapers, outdoing other youths by using a horse and buggy, not bicycles. In World War I, young Jack inspected dungarees for shipment to the Navy.

Mr. Weil took a job selling garters and suspenders, first in the Midwest, then in a territory sprawling from El Paso to Canada. He fell instantly in love with the Rocky Mountains and moved to Denver, where he put up a new-fangled neon sign that flashed “Garters.”
He joined Phillip Miller in a company that later became Miller Stockman, another celebrated brand of Western clothes. It was called the Stockman Farmer Supply Company.

“The first thing I did was get rid of the farmer,” Mr. Weil told Denver Westward in 2001. For the rest of his life, he sold the romance of the cowboy. Mr. Weil was a crafty promoter. In Cheyenne, Wyo., he persuaded the Chamber of Commerce that it would be a great idea for everybody to dress Western for the Frontier Days rodeo; fines for failing to do so went to charity. Of course, Mr. Weil gave a deal on the clothes.

In 1946, Mr. Weil formed Rockmount, an abbreviation of Rocky Mountains. With the metal shortages of World War II over, he made diamond-shaped metal snaps, often with mother-of-pearl covers, the basis for his new business. Before long, Rockmount was selling Western fashion from belts to blouses.

Various accounts say Mr. Weil either invented the modern bolo tie (a necktie made of cord with a decorative slide), or named it. Rockmount’s claims to have been the leader in mass-producing them seem widely accepted.
Mr. Weil still had his shirts made in America long after his competitors moved overseas; he also refused to favor big chains like Wal-Mart over his traditional customers.

“I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery,” he said.

His wife of 64 years, the former Beatrice Baum, died in 1990, and their son, Jack B., died this January. Mr. Weil is survived by his daughter, Jane Romberg, of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; five grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Weil was a creature of habit, driving an old Dodge. But he could not understand why people would collect old Western shirts. He was aghast when his grandson Steve excitedly called to say he had found an original Rockmount shirt and that the dealer had accepted two new shirts for it.

“What?” Jack exclaimed. “You traded two perfectly good new shirts for an old one we sold for three dollars 40 years ago?”

This article appeared in print on August 15, 2008, on page B5 of the New York edition.

Los Angeles Times

August 14, 2008

Denver Western wear maker Jack Weil dies at 107


The Associated Press

In this Tuesday, March 27, 2001 file photo, Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, poses amid some of the ties and shirts sold by his company at its headquarters in downtown Denver. Weil, whose shirts were favored by movie actors and rock stars, died Wednesday. He was 107.

Jack A. Weil, founder of the Rockmount Ranch Wear company whose snap-buttoned Western shirts became popular with movie stars and rock icons, has died. He was 107.

Weil died Wednesday at home, said Steve Weil, his grandson, who is the president of the business his grandfather started in downtown Denver in 1946.

Steve Weil said his grandfather was the first to design Western shirts with snap buttons and also created pockets with jagged, sawtooth-pattern flaps. The snaps are often topped with real or synthetic mother of pearl.

"I learned fast you can't sell to cowboys; they have no money," the elder Weil said in a 2001 Associated Press interview. "You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone and sell to them."

Weil's shirts have been worn in movies by Elvis Presley, Clark Gable (in his last film, "The Misfits") and Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mountain.") Bob Dylan, John Fogerty and Eric Clapton also have sported the shirts.

In a 2004 Associated Press story on the company, blues and rock veteran Al Kooper said he had ordered shirts from Rockmount that week. "One of the biggest impressions on me is Elvis Presley. He wore Rockmount shirts," Kooper said.

Rockmount designed shirts for Colorado's House delegation for the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.
The price of a shirt has gone from about $2 in the 1940s to $60 and up today, mostly because the Weils kept manufacturing operations in the United States.

"I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery," he told his grandson.
Jack Weil remained chief executive officer of Rockmount and went to work daily until a few days before his death, his grandson said. He was believed to be the oldest CEO in the world.

Born in Evansville, Ind., in 1901, Weil learned apparel manufacturing while working at an overalls factory during World War I. He later was a salesman in Denver, and first got into the Western field by helping a friend sell cowboy hats.

Rockmount was a wholesale-only business for its first 55 years but opened a retail flagship after Denver lost many of its mainstay stores, his grandson said.

Papa Jack 1901 - 2008:  Rocky Mountain News


Thursday, August 14, 2009, front page

Photo by Barry Gutierrez © The Rocky
Jack A. Weil, the oldest working CEO in America and patriarch of a LoDo clothing company that put the snap in Western wear, died Wednesday night at the age of 107. Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co. and Weil have been a fixture in lower downtown since 1946.

Oldest working CEO Jack Weil dies at 107

By John C. Ensslin
Jack A. Weil, the oldest working CEO in America and patriarch of a LoDo clothing company that put the snap in Western wear, died Wednesday night at the age of 107.

Weil died at home surrounded by members of his family, said his oldest grandson, Steve Weil. A service is scheduled for Sunday at Temple Emanuel, but a time has not been set.

Since founding the Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co. in 1946, "Papa Jack" Weil and his company have been a fixture in lower downtown. He saw value in the former warehouse district long before it became fashionable as LoDo.

With his cowboy hat, folksy manner and his favorite greeting - "Where you from?" - he welcomed everyone from truck drivers to celebrities like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Robert Redford and Eric Clapton.

They all got the same friendly treatment, said Steve Weil, who went to work for his grandfather full time in the 1980s.

Status never mattered. "He didn't care about what you were, he cared about who you were," his grandson said.

His death comes about eight months after his son, Jack B. Weil, died.

Symbol of the city

Until a few weeks ago, the eldest Weil was a fixture in the store on a part of Wazee Street that the city renamed "Jack A. Weil Boulevard" when he turned 100.

Each day, he would put in about four hours at the store, serving as the official greeter before heading for lunch with his son at the Denver Athletic Club.

For many years, his grandfather was "kind of the family secret," Steve Weil said, someone his family admired and loved.

But in recent years, he became the face of the company and later a memorable symbol for the city itself. He was featured on billboards and videos created by the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"He was part of our brand. He's part of what makes Denver the West," said Mayor John Hickenlooper, who remembered Weil for his entrepreneurial spirit and ceaseless optimism.

"He was somebody who just by being in the room helped everyone feel better," said Hickenlooper, who remembered first meeting "Jack A." back in 1987, when he asked him to sign a petition for a liquor license for what became the Wynkoop Brewing Co.

Hickenlooper remembered Weil being skeptical of the idea of opening a restaurant in what had been a warehouse district, but on his grandson's recommendation he signed the petition.

"He believed in self-reliance, but also in the value of community," Hickenlooper said, recalling the care Weil took in his business relations with the retailers who sold his Western wear.

Andrew Hudson, who got to know Weil better while serving as spokesman for former Mayor Wellington Webb, said the 107-year-old businessman's influence went far beyond LoDo.

"He was an icon," Hudson said. "He believed in business ethics long before it became a buzzword."

'Twinkle in his eye'

Westword Editor Patricia Calhoun recalled meeting Weil back in the 1970s when Westword's offices were located near Rockmount.
"He was just funny as anything and really created a tremendous legacy in this town," Calhoun said, adding that she enjoyed seeing him every St. Patrick's Day at McCormick's restaurant.

"He always had a twinkle in his eye and told these great jokes, usually at the expense of Democrats," she recalled. It probably would have tickled him to see Democrats buying his shirts during the convention later this month, she said.

Stewart Patton, the doorman at the Oxford Hotel, got to know Weil after helping him into a car one day.

"He said, 'Where you from?' And I said, 'Oh a little town in Indiana you probably never heard of.' "

"Try me," Weil answered.

"Poseyville, Indiana," Patton said.

"Poseyville? That's seven miles from Harmony. My brother and I used to herd cattle through there in 1918."

Thereafter, Weil would always say howdy to Patton, and then, with a twinkle in his eye, added, "Do you believe he didn't think I knew where Poseyville was?"

Weil was born March 28, 1901, in Evansville, Ind., where his father, Abraham, who lived until 90, was a cattleman.

During a labor shortage in World War I, Weil went to work after school in the DS Bernstein Overall Factory, where he began a lifetime of learning the apparel manufacturing business.

When he started Rockmount, Weil became what his grandson called "the Henry Ford" of Western shirts by inventing the sawtooth pocket and diamond snap design.

Weil is survived by his daughter, Jane Romberg, of Steamboat Springs, and by five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. or 303-954-5291

A Denver cowboy legend

Jack "Papa Jack" A. Weil

* March 28, 1901: Born in Evansville, Ind.

* World War I: Works after school at DS Bernstein Overall Factory in Evansville, learning apparel manufacturing

* 1926: Marries Beatrice Baum of Humboldt, Tenn.

* 1928: A. Stein Co. sends him to Denver to open an office on Champa Street

* 1932: Partners with Phil Miller in a Western- apparel company that eventually becomes Miller Stockman

* 1946: Founds Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. on Wazee Street

* 1974: Brother Edgar Weil dies

* 1990: Wife Beatrice dies

* 2001: City of Denver renames Wazee Street to Jack A. Weil Boulevard to celebrate his 100th birthday, a tradition that continues each year. He also celebrates his birthday by appearing on Good Morning America.

* February 2002: Rockmount Ranchwear Co. opens first retail store at site of its offices, 1626 Wazee St.

* November 2002: Rockmount Ranchwear Co. opens first mall store at Colorado Mills.

* 2007: Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau features Jack A. Weil in national advertising campaign for city of Denver and he is featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (the show films him in Denver)

* January 2008: Son Jack B. Weil dies

* May 2008: Jack A. Weil is one of four Denver luminaries celebrated in a fundraiser performance at the Curious Theatre


Jack A. Weil proved that the West is not a place, but a state of mind

By Patricia Calhoun

August 21, 2008

Jack A. Weil showed us how the West was worn. anthony camera

Jack A. Weil showed us how the West was worn.

"The West is not a place," Jack A. Weil would say. "It's a state of mind."

Jack A. entered that state for good in 1928, when the then-27-year-old salesman for Paris Garters drove his brand-new Chrysler Roadster across the plains to Denver. Born in Evansville, Indiana, the son of a Jewish refugee who'd come to this country alone when he was just sixteen, Jack A. had been given the chance to trade his Memphis-based territory for a new office in Denver, covering everything from El Paso to the Canadian border, and he and his new wife, Beatrice, were up for the adventure. "We fell in love with this country," Jack A. told me a few years back. "To see all the wide-open space, to see the future, I knew I was home."
He saw a future, his future, in the West, a land of endless opportunity. A place where you could make something not only of yourself, but make something that mattered. You just had to believe — and then work very hard.
The couple scrimped and saved for a decade until they finally had enough money to buy a house. By now, Jack A. was tired of all the travel — he had a son, Jack B., and a daughter — and he'd taken a job with the Stockman Farmer Supply Company, convincing owner Phil Miller to get rid of the "Farmer" and focus on Western attire that would appeal to people other than cowboys. After all, Jack A. explained, "If they had any sense, they wouldn't have been cowboys. But I thought there was a tremendous future in promoting this thing. I didn't know anything about the business, but I knew what I wanted. In my love for the country and its potential, I figured we had a product. I knew how I felt about it. I knew about the romance of the country."
In 1946, Jack A. founded his own company, Rockmount Ranch Wear, devoting himself full-time to that romance. (His wife, who passed away in 1990, always referred to the business as his "mistress"; Jack A. referred to Beatrice as "the Boss.") And he set out to show everyone how the West was worn. He popularized the bolo tie — his favorite clasp was an American silver dollar from 1901, the year of his birth — and created sawtooth pockets for his shirts, which he fastened with distinctive, diamond-shaped snap buttons now that the end of World War II had eased the metal shortage.
Jack A. Weil wasn't the first person to strike out for a frontier and make a life and fortune there, and he won't be the last. But he did it with style and substance and grit, in the process helping to define Denver, this center of the new West. And all that time, he just thought he was working. It wasn't until around his hundredth birthday that the city really took notice of Jack A. and started renaming a stretch of Wazee Street after him every March. The 1600 block of Wazee had changed a lot since the days when the five-story warehouse was surrounded by other wholesale operations and businesses; it was now lined with lofts and galleries and restaurants that pointed the way to Coors Field. Steve Weil, who'd joined the family business more than a decade before, persuaded his father, Jack B., and his grandfather that Rockmount should add a retail shop, and even spruce up the old space.
The result is a combination museum/Western-wear store, a must-stop for anyone visiting Denver, the most seductive tourist trap ever devised, filled with stylish boots and belts and those Rockmount shirts, the ones seen on rock stars and in Brokeback Mountain.
And on so many of the people who came to Jack A. Weil's memorial service this past Sunday.
It was not just a well-dressed memorial service, but a real celebration. Before he passed away on August 13, Jack had lived more than 107 years, and he'd lived those years well, filling them with great stories and sayings that spilled from his grandchildren as they shared their memories. "Was ain't is," a granddaughter remembered him saying, to show how life kept moving, kept changing. But one thing didn't change: You worked. And so even as the city made "Papa Jack" a marketing icon, even as the "country's oldest CEO" accolades started coming in, he just kept working. Jack A. would get up every morning, Steve remembered, read the obituaries, see that he wasn't in them, and go to the office.
He kept working even after Jack B. passed away, greeting visitors to the store and telling his stories, showing the "government surplus" mule that had two rear ends and no head, pointing to the signed picture of President Ronald Reagan. "When he was elected, he started talking about a 'service economy,'" Jack A. remembered. "I wrote back that when I was growing up in Evansville, only a hundred miles from where he grew up in Dixon, 'service' was what happened when we took a mare to stud."
Jack A. was a Republican — "a guy should only be a Democrat until he makes a little money," he'd say — but he was also a true son of the West, even if he was born in Indiana, and arrived here in a new Chrysler rather than on a horse. "Styled in the West by Westerners since 1946," proclaims the Rockmount slogan — and really, what matters is not where you came from, but what you do here.
Was ain't is, and no one would have gotten a bigger kick out of all the people who will be in Denver for the Democratic National Convention than Jack A. Weil. He would have greeted customers and told his stories and helped set the stage for the future, for a time when all things are possible. When a 107-year-old CEO can become a city's poster boy, and Barack Obama can stand in that city's football stadium to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

The West is not a place, but a state of mind. And this week, it's wide open.

36 Hours in Denver for the DNC

August 10, 2008

THE shifting political landscape of the American West, where Democrats hope to make significant gains in several battleground states this fall, helped sell Denver as the site of the party’’s national convention, Aug. 25 to 28. But as easy as this city may be to navigate —— you can practically see from one end to the other, it’’s that flat —— Denver’’s political and social landscapes can still be tough for outsiders to read. With a convention that has already been beset by cost overruns and a severe cutback on pomp, some delegates may find it hard to see the gold here without first striking the surface. Still, as Molly Brown would attest, it’’s worth packing a pickax....

Let’s say you have an image problem. Some people, misguided as they may be, think you are an elitist. Now, that’’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little fashion makeover at Rockmount Ranch Wear (1626 Wazee Street; 303-629-7777;, a LoDo shop famous in these parts for introducing the snap button to the western shirt, making it easier for cowboys to ride the range or re-enact scenes from “Brokeback Mountain.” (Yep, Jack and Ennis were Rockmount customers.)

The store —— and an accompanying museum —— have the fascinating feel of history, with a lasso-rope logo and vintage displays, but the shirts have modern-day prices, most of them $62 to $84. Steve Weil, the president of Rockmount, is creating a special style for the convention, based on Denver’s abstract mountain flag, designed for the United States Congregational Delegation.

Aug 10, 12:10 PM EDT
Rockmount shirts set the fashion in the West

Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) -- 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.
On the Net:
Rockmount Ranch Wear:

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Denver wants delegates to see the old and the new

By JUDITH KOHLER – 8/10/08
(Google News Link)

DENVER (AP) — This frontier town turned modern city wants to put its best foot forward for the Democratic National Convention — just not necessarily one wearing a cowboy boot.

Western duds — like a shiny pair of boots, a finely shaped Stetson and a pearl-snap Western cut shirt — would've been appropriate for the rodeo Rep. Diana DeGette suggested for the party welcoming delegates and news media. That venue didn't sit well with some of the organizers and sponsors, she said, and they opted for an amusement park setting.

"They didn't want to look like a cow town," DeGette, D-Colo., said, declining to name anyone. "I thought it would have been a great nod to our Western heritage and we could talk about Western values as we move forward."

Conflicting feelings about Denver's Wild West image are nothing new. A century ago, when Denver was preparing to host its first Democratic National Convention, organizers were eager to present a modern, contemporary image.

"We're really stuck with the idea that we want to look progressive and modern and cosmopolitan, but we also want to play up our romantic past," state historian Bill Convery said. "In 1908, Denver was trying to have it both ways."

Back then, Damon Runyon, writing for the Rocky Mountain News before he made it big in New York City journalism, observed that men walking through downtown Denver were more likely to wear suits, ties and straw hats than boots and cowboy hats.

But Denverites, some of whom lived through the rough-and-tumble years of frontier life, wanted to give convention-goers a sense of the city's colorful past. So, they brought in 40 Apache Indians from New Mexico who danced and camped in City Park.

Denver has proved itself on the international stage. The city hosted Pope John Paul II in 1993 for World Youth Day, and the 1997 Summit of the Eight, which brought the leaders of the U.S., Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan.

And still people fret about Denver being viewed as a cow town. "I think that's part of our civic psychology, it's deep in our civic DNA."

Mayor John Hickenlooper said he believes in paying homage to Western values: self-reliance, innovation and strength. He has nothing against rodeos; the issue for him was logistics.

The welcoming party was originally planned for Civic Center Park but then switched to Elitch Gardens amusement park, whose arena isn't big enough for bucking broncos or steer wrestling.

Hickenlooper is eager to promote what is called the "New West" to the roughly 50,000 visitors expected for the Aug. 25-28 convention. He wants to make sure people hear about Colorado's booming energy industry — both conventional and renewable — and the kind of intergovernmental cooperation that resulted in more than 30 mayors supporting a $4.7 billion plan to expand light rail and bus service in the Denver metro area.

"Denver's doing so much right now," Hickenlooper said. "We're trying to show off the kind of flavor of what the West has to offer."

Sharon Linhart, managing partner of a Denver public relations firm, participated in rodeos growing up in northern Colorado but isn't sure that image best fits what the area has become.

"The fact is our economy now is extremely diversified, resilient and contemporary," said Linhart, who heads a convention task force for a downtown business group. "We have fabulous culture and art."

For Pat Grant, president and chief executive of the National Western Stock Show, there is no conflict between Denver's Western heritage and its status as a major metropolitan area in one of the fastest-growing parts of the nation.

"People assume an international, cosmopolitan image is at variance with the notion of being a cow town," said Grant. "Let's celebrate and be excited for both."

The 102-year-old stock show, which includes a horse show and one of the country's largest rodeos, has been a key place for the region's farmers and ranchers to showcase their livestock and seal deals down in the stock yards. Attendance this year was nearly 674,000, with people from 49 states and 44 foreign countries.

The two-week show in January provides a big post-holiday economic boost for Denver, generating at least $80 million in benefits, according to economic studies.

Grant, a former Republican legislator, had been working with DeGette on setting up an exhibition rodeo for conventioneers. He said they're still looking at organizing some kind of event.

"The National Western Stock Show isn't partisan. It doesn't take sides," Grant said. "It's an opportunity to bring people of all different backgrounds, culture, races together. That's what the West is really about."


July 11, 2008
by Penny Parker
From a business point of view, it makes cents for a Republican to do a DNC shirt

How does a die-hard Republican end up designing a shirt for the Democratic National Convention?
Business, pure business.

So Rockmount Ranch Wear prez Steve Weil had no political pang of conscience when Congresswoman Diana DeGette ordered more than 300 signature snap-front shirts (at $80 a pop, paid for from her campaign chest) with the DNC logo for the members of the House of Representatives who will visit our fair city Aug. 25-28.

"This is another way to show off Denver and the Rocky Mountain West to her colleagues who are coming in (for the DNC)," said Kristofer Eisenla, DeGette's press secretary. "She was very happy to support a local business, and she wanted to give her colleagues a memento to remember the convention that was held in her Congressional district."

The long-sleeve Weil-designed shirt features a red body and sleeves with white zig-zag mountain tops on the chest and upper arm. The top part of the chest and shoulders are blue, with a golden sun rising over the mountains.

And true to his Republican roots, Weil designed a shirt in honor of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St.Paul as well.

"The RNC has worn Rockmount shirts and hats at conventions for decades," said Weil, whose late father Jack B. Weil was once the secretary for the Colorado Republican Party. The RNC shirt has a red, white and blue fireworks motif.
You can buy either shirt (without the political party logos) at the Rockmount Ranch Wear store, 1626 Wazee St., or online at

EVANSVILLE COURIER PRESS:  107-year-old Denver Businessman still has memories of Evansville

Midwest Roots: 107-year-old Denver businessman still has memories of Evansville

By Dan Shaw / Courier Press staff writer — 464-7519 or
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Jack A. Weil, second from left, stands with his son Jack B. Weil, left, grandson Steve Weil and great-grandson Colter Weil as they celebrate Papa Jack's 106th birthday on March 28, 2007. The city of Denver has changed the name of Wazee Street to Jack A. Weil Blvd. for every birthday since he turned 100.
Jack A. Weil, second from left, stands with his son Jack B. Weil, left, grandson Steve Weil and great-grandson Colter Weil as they celebrate Papa Jack's 106th birthday on March 28, 2007. The city of Denver has changed the name of Wazee Street to Jack A. Weil Blvd. for every birthday since he turned 100.
How many cowboys would bridle if they knew the modern Western shirt has its roots in so Midwestern a city as Evansville?
But it has. Or so, at least, has its inventor, Jack A. Weil, who was born in Evansville in 1901. More than a century later, Jack Weil is the honorary chief executive officer of Rockmount Ranch Wear, a clothing manufacturer in downtown Denver famous for selling Western shirts with snap buttons. He introduced that innovation and others not long after he founded the company in 1946.
Barry Gutierrez / Rocky Mountain News Jack A. Weil, owner and CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear, puts on his hat as he leaves for the day from his desk at the company headquarters in Denver in March 2007. Weil started the company in 1948 and the name has become famous in the western wear industry.
Barry Gutierrez / Rocky Mountain News Jack A. Weil, owner and CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear, puts on his hat as he leaves for the day from his desk at the company headquarters in Denver in March 2007. Weil started the company in 1948 and the name has become famous in the western wear industry.
Jack Weil established the look of the modern Western shirt and his products have been sold throughout the world and worn by many celebrities, from Elvis to the stars of the movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Though he found his success far away from Evansville, Jack Weil retains a fondness for the city he considers his home.
"We were always arguing with Fort Wayne about who was the second largest city in the state," he said. "I don't know who ever won."
He grew up in houses on Southeast First Street and Sixth Street and attended school on Mulberry Street. Among the prominent landmarks at the time were deJong's department store, the C&EI train station and Cook's Brewery. None exists now.
Jack Weil said his memories reach back as far as World War I, when men were building barges at the Howell Yards along the Ohio River. Among other things, he can clearly recall the antipathy his family felt toward the Germans, a product as much of their history as of patriotism.
Weil's father grew up in the Alsace region of France, which was invaded during the Franco-Prussian War. Rather than being impressed into the enemy army, he fled to the United States.
Here he established himself in the cattle business, first in Mount Vernon, Ind., and then Evansville.
Years later, a stranger came to the family's house to solicit money in support of the German cause in World War I. Jack Weil's mother grabbed a cattle prod and chased him away.
It was a rare disturbance in an otherwise carefree existence.
"Maybe my memory is such that I have put aside the unpleasant things that happened," he said.
He got in little trouble because he knew that punishment would not be long in coming.
"If I stepped out of line, the policemen would say I'll tell your mother," he said. "That set me straight right then and there. She was a disciplinarian."
Jack Weil and his brother made money by delivering copies of the old Evansville Press newspaper. His mother had them give her a part of whatever they earned as a way to supplement the family's income.
"My brother and I were the kings of the carriers," Jack Weil said. "We had a horse and buggy to deliver our papers and the rest were riding bicycles."
Jack Weil managed to make enough money from that job and others to save some on the side. In the 1920s, he took $1,000 he had placed in the bank and moved to Chicago, becoming a salesman. It was the start of a journey that would take him to Pennsylvania, Tennessee — where he met the woman he would marry — and Denver.
Since first leaving Evansville, Jack Weil has rarely come back. Steve Weil, his grandson and the president of Rockmount, said the last return visit was likely made in the 1940s, for the funeral of Jack Weil's father. His parents, brother and brother's wife are all buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Despite the long absence, Jack Weil often talks about Evansville.
"He refers to it all the time, whenever people come in here and are from Indiana," Steve Weil said. "He tells lots of people it's remarkable that a guy from Evansville did what he did."
Jack Weil said he chooses to stay away rather than "be disappointed that none of my contemporaries are still around."
In many interviews Jack Weil has been told he possesses an extraordinarily sharp memory for a man who has lived more than a century.
"Who the hell is going to contradict me?" he answers.



Thursday, July 10, 2008


Rockmount plaid western shirt (shirt No. 690), $78 at MAP in Provincetown, Mass.; Ray-Ban aviators, $129 at Bloomingdale’s.

Rockmount's bandana print Western shirt No. 692

Photo: Dean Isidro for The New York Times
Published: July 10, 2008

THE truism that fashion exists as much off the runways as on was deftly illustrated at the men’s wear shows in Paris last month. Michael Macko, the new fashion director of Details, was paying utmost attention to Raf Simons’s collection of avant-garde rompers when his eye strayed to the front row. There he saw the photographer J. D. Ferguson in elegant tropical-weight gray wool pants, cut off crudely above the knee....


Denver, Colorado more than a conventional choice

Host to the Democratic National Convention, Colorado's capital is a notable partying platform for delegate and non-delegate alike.
By Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 04, 2008

Greetings, superdelegates, standard delegates, compromised Floridians, miffed Michiganders, would-be VPs and all-access VIPs. As you and the other Democrats convene here Aug. 25 to formally choose a presidential candidate at last, you will be wined, dined, wooed, spun, schmoozed, queried, denounced and perhaps bamboozled by all manner of unreliable operatives, members of the press and, of course, one another.

Don't trust those people. Trust me.
For instance, if, over a welcome cocktail, one of the locals seems to be inviting you to partake in some Dazbog with Hickenlooper, your drink has not been drugged and this is not a Justice Department sting. Dazbog is a popular local coffee brand. John Hickenlooper is Denver's mayor. And Denver, for the record, is a city of 570,000 at the eastern edge of the Front Range.

It's a mile high, as you may have heard. More to the point, it's the capital of Colorado, one of several Western states that leaned slightly right in 2004. Had they leaned slightly left, John Kerry would be in the White House. If I were a Democratic strategist, I would have put the party here too.
Once you're here, you may encounter either a Dazbog or a Hickenlooper in LoHi or SoCo, which is what some people call the Lower Highlands and South-of-Colfax neighborhoods. Nearby lies LoDo, which stands for Lower Downtown.

A word to those of you who backed presumptive nominee Barack Obama from the beginning: If a couple of burly Clinton people show up to bury the hatchet and offer you a free ride to the convention center on 14th Street, take evasive action. The Colorado Convention Center is a big, beautiful building in the heart of downtown, and Denver's taxpayers spent about $300 million to expand it four years ago -- but that's not where the party is.

The delegate floor will be a few miles away at the Pepsi Center, which holds more seats and houses Denver's pro basketball and hockey teams (the Nuggets and the Avalanche, respectively). In fact, this convention could be a bit like those hockey games: Though hip-checking, high-sticking and nose-punching are officially discouraged, legions will be rooting for just that, and ratings may depend on it.

That's why our itinerary includes two final stops, beginning with Rockmount Ranch Wear, outfitters of cowboys (and the politicians, actors and rock stars who admire them) since 1946.
Step through the door at 1626 Wazee St. between 8 a.m. and noon on a weekday and you're likely to be greeted by the chief executive, Jack A. Weil, the man who created snap-button shirts and sawtooth pockets on Western shirts. On March 27 Weil celebrated his 107th birthday.
Yet since Rockmount opened its retail space in 2005, he has sat up front, chatting up browsers and offering candy to their children. Behind his chair hangs a congratulatory note to Weil (a longtime Republican) from President Bush on his 105th birthday.
His advice for the conventioneers:
"I think a guy should be a Democrat until he makes a little money," he told me. "And then, if he wants to save it, he should become a Republican."

Denver Post: Clothier Salute Steals Show

The Denver Post
May 23, 2008

Clothier salute steals Curious show

By Bill Husted

The Curious Theatre Company presented four short plays Wednesday night — each a 15-minute salute to a formidable Denverite.
The fantastic four were political powerhouse Elbra Wedgeworth, 107-year-old Rockmount Ranch Wear CEO Papa Jack Weil, Denver Art Museum CEO Lewis Sharp and Cuba Cuba restaurant owner Kristy Socarras Bigelow.
The standout play was for Papa Jack, who sat in the front row with grandson Steve Weil.
Playwright Steven Cole Hughes created 107 really short plays, racing through Papa Jack's life. It was touching, humble, funny and smart. And Michael Morgan as Weil was a wonder, capturing the legend's gentle ways, humor and posture.
The best lines from Papa Jack in the play: "People say I have an amazing memory for a man my age. And I say, 'Who the heck is going to contradict me?' "
On Wal-Mart's Sam Walton, not much to say, "other than he was a hillbilly (SOB)."
And what about all the pretty girls who come into the store these days to kiss him and pose with him for pictures? "Where were you girls when I was your age?"
Said Steve, "My grandfather is a hard act to replicate, and they did it very sensitively. I was very impressed."
So were we all.


Rocky Mountain News 'Papa Jack's tale steals the show at third annual 'Denver Stories' - 5/23/08

Time Magazine features Rockmount shirt No. 6799-Beer April 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain News

Penny Parker

PARKER: Weil, 107, to get Curious vetting

By Penny Parker

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


 Jack A. Weil, left, and Chip Walton, above.

Jack A. Weil, left, and Chip Walton, above.

Don't expect to see a 107-year-old actor portraying Rockmount Ranch Wear founder Jack A. Weil in this year's Denver Stories, the third annual fundraiser for Curious Theatre Co.

Curious honcho Chip Walton is pretty sure an actor that age doesn't exist.

Instead, Walton will likely cast a middle-aged actor and let him tell snippets in the long life of America's oldest CEO.

"The challenge with him will be how to tell 107 years of his story in 10 to 15 minutes," Walton said about this year's collection of vignettes that will include life stories of former City Council President Elbra Wedgeworth, Denver Art Museum CEO Lewis Sharp and Cuba Cuba restaurant owner Kristy Socarras Bigelow.

For two years, Denver Stories has celebrated the lives of local characters who have helped shape our city. Bigelow, a first- generation Cuban-American, was chosen because she's not only a Curious supporter, but the play needs to include a restaurateur willing to cater the preshow party.

Wedgeworth was tapped for the play because of her pivotal part in the upcoming Democratic National Convention and her efforts to land the convention here.

"Elbra was a no-brainer," Walton said. "She's been such a big part of Denver politics for so long."

Walton said Sharp's story will give a nod to the man who oversaw the addition of the Hamilton Building to the Denver Art Museum. "The story of the Hamilton wing has been at the forefront of our community for the past couple of years," Walton said.

Tickets start at $100 per person; VIP box seats are $2,500. More info: or the box office, 303-623-0524.

EAVESDROPPING on a woman at Paul Garcia's salon talking to someone in Hawaii: "I don't need any macadamia nuts. I may as well tape them to my butt."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail parkerp@RockyMoun

The Denver Post 

March 18, 2008

Curious about 4 significant Denverites? See "Stories"

By Bill Husted

Curious Theatre is gearing up to present its third installment of "Denver Stories," a night of four original 10-minute plays celebrating the lives of celebrated Denverites.

On May 21, Curious will give you its take on political powerhouse Elbra Wedgeworth; Denver Art Museum CEO Lewis Sharp; Cuba Cuba restaurant owner Kristy Socarras Bigelow; and soon-to-be-107-year- old CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear Jack A. Weil.

How are they gonna squeeze 107 years of living into 10 minutes? That's their problem.

Past honorees include Judi Wolf, Bob Garner, Patty Calhoun, Mel & Janie Master, Ellen Hart and Holly Kylberg.You don't say.

Former Denver deejay Jo Myers knows a lot about death and dying. Last year she wrote "Good to Go," a book that addressed what to do when a loved one buys the big one.

Tonight at 7 she gathers interested parties to the Heartlight Center at 11150 E. Dartmouth Ave. (on the Horan & McConaty campus) to discuss what NOT to say to a person in mourning.

"People want to say something comforting," Myers explains, "but they just don't know what to say, so they end up saying something ridiculous."

Faux pas in the funeral home include: "I know how you feel," "You know you don't have any family now," "This music is a downer," "You'll be fine," "Mind if I take a picture?"

And here's my advice: "Don't hit on the widow."

Pass the water.

I am not exactly green. My carbon footprint puts Sasquatch to shame.

But there is one cause I can champion. Stop drinking bottled water. It's probably the most wasteful thing we do.

Today through Saturday marks the Tap Project. You pay $1 for tap water in some Denver restaurants, and they donate it to UNICEF to get clean water to people. It might put a cork in these dismal stats: One billion people have no access to clean drinking water. A child dies every 15 seconds of a water-borne disease.

You can donate $1 for your glass of tap water this week at hundreds of Colorado restaurants. Check it out at Here's a roster of a few restaurants on board: 1515, Agave, Carmine's, Dazzle, Frasca, Hapa, Jax, Lola, Mel's, Osteria Marco, Zolo, West End Tavern, Greenbriar and Dish.

Sez who: "The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it." Ernest Hemingway

Click here to listen

Morning Edition, April 27, 2007 · The man believed to be the country's oldest chief executive officer of a company is 106.

Jack Weil goes to work every day at Rockmount Ranch Wear, the western clothing apparel company he founded in 1946. Customers flock to the store's headquarters in Denver for more than just rodeo wear. They want to spend time with the man called "Papa Jack."

From member station KUNC in Greeley, Colo., Nancy Greenleese reports.


PARKER: Annual tip of the hat to a true son of St. Pat

aBy Penny Parker,
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cathy Kruzic / Special to the RockyMayor John Hickenlooper, with Jack A. Weil, reads a proclamation

Long-gone Denver DA Dale Tooley had a long-standing tradition of meeting at McCormick's with Judges Jim Carrigan and John Kane and (now Auditor) Dennis Gallagher to hoist a few and sing Irish tunes on St. Patrick's Day.

In his last year on Earth, Tooley served as grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 1985, and died on April 1 - "on purpose because it was April Fools' Day," said his son, Keith, who with his brother, Patrick, attended for the first time the annual sign-changing of Wazee Street to Tooley Street in front of McCormick's in LoDo on Wednesday.

"He'd love it," Keith said of his dad during the ceremony where Mayor John Hickenlooper and Rockmount Ranch Wear founder Jack A. Weil unveiled the Tooley Street sign that will stay up for a week.

The Tooley boys - all lawyers, including Brian who was missing from the ceremony - hold a party on St. Patrick's Day where guests are required to make their first drink a Guinness - in honor of their dad.

This year's sign-changing ceremony was particularly poignant because Jack B. Weil, son of Jack A. and father of Steve Weil, was not there. He died in January from esophageal cancer. Mayor Hick, sporting a shamrock bowtie, dedicated a part of his proclamation to Jack B.

"This year we also honor our beloved friend, who was most Irish of heart and soul, if not heritage, Jack B. Weil. May the day of March 12, 2008, also be known forever as Jack B. Weil Day so that we may always remember his kindness, creativity and dedication to family, which are most definitely recognized as virtues of the Irish.

THE SEEN: Some of Irish descent, and some wannabes, at the Tooley Street sign-changing ceremony were Colorado Restaurant Association big cheese Pete Meersman, City Councilman Charlie Brown, Volunteers of America honcho Jim White, former Denver's 7 consumer champ and Rocky contributor Bill Clarke, Westword editor Patty Calhoun, Luxe salon owner Laurie Helmich, St. Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal Pat McCullough and assorted green-jacketed leprechauns.

EAVESDROPPING on two men at the sign-changing: "It's good to see you somewhere other than a funeral."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail parkerp@RockyMoun


Jack Weil Industry Tribute, Tack 'N Togs trade magazine, March 2008

Clcik here for the PDF download

Rocky Mountain News

By Penny Parker,

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Steve Weil, Rockmount Ranch Wear's third generation, called me last year to tell me his dad, Jack B. Weil, had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He wanted to share the news with me since I'm a cancer survivor, but, more important, he wanted to keep the news out of the paper to respect his dad's privacy. I happily obliged.

But I didn't know just how sick Jack B. was. The news of his death Tuesday made me realize how quickly the cancer caught this gentle man. My deepest condolences go out to his son, Steve, and his 106-year-old father, Jack A. Weil, founder of the western wear company.

The annual sign-changing at the corner of 17th and Wazee won't be the same without Jack B., who typically arrived with his dad and son in tow for the invite-only St. Patrick's Day celebration lunch at McCormick's following the ceremony. He will be missed.


Jan. 28, 2008


Best Dressed:  Mayor John Hickenlooper wearing Rockmount's Denver Shirt.

Colorado state Sen. Peter Groff, left, Denver Mayor John Hicken- looper and guest of honor Hank Brown, the 2008 Citizen of the West award winner.

Colorado state Sen. Peter Groff (left), Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and guest of honor Hank Brown, 2008 Citizen of the West award winner.   Hank Brown is president of the University of Colorado and former US Senator.

FORTUNE Small Business Magazine

Western wear innovator Jack B. dies

Second-generation Denver businessman helped bring Rockmount Ranch Wear's signature shirts to Hollywood.

By Amy Haimerl
January 23 2008: 3:00 PM EST

If there is a heart to the city of Denver, it is the Weil family. Two years ago, Mayor John Hickenlooper even named a street named after the patriarch, Jack A. Weil, who at 106 still heads to work every morning at Rockmount Ranch Wear, the company he founded in 1946.

But on Tues., Jan. 22, Denver and the Weils lost a favorite son and veteran Rockmount executive: Jack B. Weil, son of Jack A., passed away at age 79 from esophageal cancer.

Weil joined his father's company in the 1954, after graduating from Tulane University and serving in the Army. Once back in Denver, he never left the family business, which is credited with creating the snap-front Western shirt and popularizing the look.

"I always said snaps were safer for a rider on a horse," Jack A. told Cowboys & Indians magazine in June 2006. "If a buttonhole got caught on a bull's horn, a rider could get dragged. Not so with a snap shirt, which could come right off."

Practicality aside, Hollywood fell for the look and came calling on the company often --Ronald Reagan, James Garner, Elvis, Clark Gable have all worn Rockmount. Jack B. was responsible for the snap-downs John Travolta wore in his 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. And, of course, the now-famous shirts worn in Brokeback Mountain by Jack Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger (who also passed away on Jan. 22) were from Rockmount.

Six decades after Jack A. finally convinced New York City snap manufacturers to sell to him - they didn't share his vision and were hesitant to be suppliers - Rockmount Ranch Wear's home in downtown Denver is still a must-stop for every celebrity coming through town: The Killers, Vince Gill, David Bowie, John Fogerty and Dwight Yoakam have all made the pilgrimage.

The five-story building, erected in 1908, is packed floor to ceiling, clothes, bolo ties, belts and heaps of memorabilia, from a giant blow-up of Bruce Springsteen on the cover of Esquire in Rockmount attire to photos of celebs showing off their Western duds.

In addition to his duties as vice president of Rockmount, Jack B. was an avid collector of modern art and an artist in his own right. Last month he had a solo show of his abstract paintings, Reflections on a Life Lived, at the Berkeley Park Art Gallery in north Denver.

"My father was a contrarian and a very eclectic personality," Jack B.'s son, Steve, told the Rocky Mountain News yesterday. "In the 1990s he was secretary of the Colorado Republican Party, but his art was influenced by people like Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and (Joan) Miro. There was nothing straight and narrow about him."

Rockmount will continue to be led by Jack A., CEO, and Steve, President in the family business.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jack Weil the Younger dies at 79

By Bill Gallo , Special to the Rocky

Weil exhibited 20 of his paintings just last month.

Weil exhibited 20 of his paintings just last month.

 Jack B. Weil was a businessman with a gift for art - and an artist with a head for business.

An accomplished abstract impressionist painter who also designed the Western shirts for John Travolta in the film Urban Cowboy, Mr. Weil spent over 50 years as a major force at Rockmount Ranch Wear.

The Denver company was founded by his iconic father, Jack A. Weil, "Papa Jack," who survives him at age 106.

Jack Weil the Younger died Tuesday at his Capitol Hill home after an 8-month battle with esophageal cancer. He was 79.

Services will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the First Universalist Church, 4101 E. Hampden Ave.

"My father was a contrarian and a very eclectic personality," said his son, Rockmount President Steve Weil. "In the 1990s he was secretary of the Colorado Republican Party, but his art was influenced by people like Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and (Joan) Miro. There was nothing straight and narrow about him."

Mr. Weil was born Nov. 13, 1928, in Denver's Mercy Hospital and lived here all his life, save for a stint as an Army second lieutenant in Virginia and his studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, from which he graduated in 1952.

Twice married and divorced, he had been single since the 1980s. In the 1960s, a family rabbi characterized him as a Unitarian; he promptly joined the First Universalist Church.

Jack B. joined Rockmount in 1954 and worked with his father for half a century, often hurdling generational disputes. He is credited with expanding the company's reach to the Eastern states.

Rockmount shirts have been worn by Bob Dylan, President Reagan, Elvis Presley and Robert Redford, among others. They were also worn by the two leading men of the popular movie Brokeback Mountain. By coincidence, Brokeback star Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday.

Mr. Weil's most recent exhibition was a 20-canvas show last month at the Berkeley Gallery. In the 1960s, the Denver Art Museum hung one of his forward-looking collages.

A lifelong supporter of public higher education, he recently served as chairman of the Foundation for Community College of Denver. Because of his illness, he retired from Rockmount five months ago.

"He lived for his buying trips to New York," his son said. "He would buy piece goods - fabric - but he would also visit all the museums and galleries to see the latest art."

Aside from his 106-year-old father, Mr. Weil is survived by his son, Steve, and a daughter, Judy Oksner, both of Denver; a sister, Jane Romberg, of Steamboat Springs; and three grandchildren.

The Denver Post

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Painting sustained Rockmount executive Weil, 79

by Dana Coffield

Art collector, politician and clothing maker Jack B. Weil, credited with spreading the gospel of the Rockmount Ranch Wear snap-front shirt east from Denver, died Tuesday at home. He was 79.

He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer during a routine physical in May. During his illness, Weil talked business daily with his son, Steven Weil, and his father, Jack A. Weil, as they worked at their Lower Downtown manufacturing company and store, but it was painting that sustained him through difficult treatments.

He began painting in the 1960s and studied art at Metropolitan State College. On business trips to New York, he visited museums and was inspired by the work of contemporary abstract painters.

Back home, he developed his own abstract style, covering canvases with evocative swirls and smears of acrylics.

Faced with his own end, Weil had two goals, his son said: The first was to see the Navy ship USS Mesa Verde commissioned, which occurred in December in Panama City, Fla.; the second was to have a one-man show of his work, which also occurred in December, at the Berkeley Park Art Gallery in northwest Denver.

"He loved to share the art he bought and the art he created himself," said Betty Arca, who exhibited 40 of Weil's paintings at her gallery. "He felt his art passionately. It was his way of communicating. And for the last year, he painted prolifically."

Weil was born Nov. 13, 1928, in Denver. He attended the University of Colorado and graduated from Tulane University in 1952. He joined the U.S. Army, and after two years of service, he returned to Denver to join his father's Western-wear manufacturing company at the urging of his mother, Bea, who told him: "You know, your father is not getting any younger."

Although he was trained as an artist, he was limited to "designing the Rockmount line in his head" until Jack A. Weil finally handed over the design department. Over a 30-year period, Jack B. Weil created some of Rockmount's most iconic designs, including the shirt John Travolta wore in the movie "Urban Cowboy."

He also was firmly woven into his community. A lifelong Republican, he served as GOP party secretary in the 1990s and was a delegate to several Republican National Conventions. But Steven Weil says his father would not be cast into the mold of classic conservative, serving, for example, on the board of Colorado Republicans for Choice. He also was involved in education, serving as chairman of the Foundation for the Community College of Denver. Historic preservation was another interest, and he lived for 35 years in a home near Cheesman Park that he bought purely for aesthetic reasons.

"I think my father was passionate. When he liked something or someone, there were no limits to that feeling," Steven Weil said.

Steven Weil said that although his father had a tough couple of months at the end, he felt he had lived a good life.

"He said to us, very clearly: 'You know, whatever happens is going to happen. I have no regrets,' " his son said.

Single for many years, Weil was married twice.

In addition to his son and father, who is 106, Weil is survived by his daughter, Judy Oksner of Denver; a sister, Jane Romberg of Steamboat Springs; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 E. Hampden Ave.

Denver Post staff writer Suzanne S. Brown contributed to this report.


Jan. 7, 2008
Western Dress Suits Everyone

By William Porter
Denver Post Columnist

Late Friday morning, and Geary Sheridan was fresh off a plane from Southern California. It was Vail or bust.

But first: Hit the trail to Rockmount Ranch Wear, the venerable Western outfitter at 1626 Wazee St.

When I crossed paths with Sheridan, he was trying on a cream- colored shirt with purple piping and embroidered flowers at the shoulders.

So how many cowboy shirts does a guy with a Malibu Beach address need?

"Well, I was thinking about three," Sheridan said. "But I think I'll wind up with seven."

This is how it is in January at Rockmount, thanks to the happy-trails confluence of ski season and the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, which opens Saturday.

Everyone gets to channel their inner cowpoke.

You get rough-stock cowboys needing buckskin gloves and hats that soon will be stained with sweat. And you get pilgrims from out East who wonder why horseshoes don't have shoelaces. But they pine for a pair of hand-tooled boots.

Chamber of commerce-types tear their hair out to convince people that Denver is a cosmopolitan city, not a cow town. Sorry, but at Rockmount, the bandanna still dry-gulches the power tie.

"It's part of our legacy in the West," said Steve Weil. "The reason this has endured is that we manufacture these shirts as part of a lifestyle, not as a costume."

At 50 he is president and designer at the store, which his granddad Jack — still CEO at age 106 — opened in 1946.

Walk Rockmount's aisles, and it's like a cross between a bunkhouse and the wardrobe room for a Broadway show. Say, "Shane: The Musical."

Some clothes are made for bona-fide ranch hands, such as roper-style boots destined to be caked in stable muck. Then there are duds so fancy they would make Roy Rogers look like a broken-down saddle tramp.

If you can pony up $1,100 for the caiman-skin Lucchese boots, all the better.

Pam Wilson of Fort Collins took a day off to look at shirts and skirts. She's never been on a horse in her life, but she's a big rodeo fan.

"I just like the style and the heritage," she said of the clothes. "And I think the cut is flattering."

She eyed a yellow shirt embroidered with green cactuses and wagon wheels. "I wonder if a cowboy would like this."

Mike and Kathy Wrage flew in from Tampa, Fla., for some ski days in Steamboat Springs with their kids.

He sported a denim shirt with flap pockets and Rockmount's trademark diamond-shaped snap buttons. I asked him about its appeal.

"A shirt like this just has authenticity," Mike said. "Some are more drugstore cowboy, but this is just a good working shirt."

Truth be told, he's not one of those Floridians who can't be pried out of shorts and sandals with a crowbar. He's a native Cornhusker whose forebears homesteaded in Cherry County, Neb. "God's own cattle country," Mike said.

And these days? He grinned. "I'm all hat and no cattle."

His wife, Kathy, checked out a rack of fancy shirts. "I think the cool thing is that now you don't have to live in the West to wear this."

As Jack Weil once said, there's no Westerner like an Easterner.

William Porter's column appears twice a week. Reach him at 303-954-1977 or

Retail sign returns to owner 50 years later
Published in the Coon Rapids Enterprise, Iowa December 20, 2007

by Charlie Nixon

CNBC  -  December 5, 2007
"Sam Walton Was A Hillbilly"
Posted By:Mike Hegedus

How many of you have ever met Levi Strauss? How about J.C. Penney, the man, not the store? Did you ever call Sam Walton a "hillbilly" and an "s.o.b." in print? The answer of course is, no. But "Papa Jack" Weil has done all three and lived to tell about it. He's lived 106 years.

"I guess I was just lucky. Better that than smart." "Papa Jack" is talking about his career in fashion. Yes, fashion. He's the man who invented one of the great American iconic pieces of clothing. The snap front Western shirt.

"He says he made it so cowboys couldn't get hung up on their saddles. I think it was a success because cowboys didn't like, or know how, to sew on buttons." That's his grandson Steve Weil explaining the business to me while we walk around the company store in downtown Denver. Rockmount Ranch Wear is the name of the company. It was founded in 1946 and what Jack Weil did was catch on to the culture of the times.

The late 30's and the 40's were the heyday of the American western movie. Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, all names of movie stars of the day. All at one time wore a Rockmount shirt designed by Jack Weil.

"I can't believe what he did," Steve Weil says as we look down from the balcony overlooking the store. Jack is in an animated conversation with someone who has walked in. Yes, animated at 106. Yes, he uses a computer.

"I consider him to be the Henry Ford of western fashion. He designed it, manufactured it and sold it," Steve, now the CEO, says with a smile. It is Rockmount's signature Diamond snap and sawtooth pocket that sets it apart, that, and the designs on the more elaborate offerings. Steve designs them now, his grandfather did all the originals.

Western styles come and go across the fashion spectrum, but Rockmount has never wavered. That's why the younger Weil believes they've managed to stay in business all these years. Delivering a unique product, of high quality, with customer service. Of course exposure doesn't hurt, nor does an internet presence.

"I picked up the phone the other day and it was Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton! He wouldn't have found us before the internet," Steve says. Bob Dylan was in two weeks ago, and Bruce Springsteen wears Rockmount shirts.

"It's a style, a cut, that appeals to the young kid on a skateboard, and to his grandfather," Steve Weil believes that's another reason Rockmount, which has just this one retail store, and sells mostly wholesale around the world, is so successful in 2007. That an maybe a good dose of "Papa Jack's" spirit.

"See that article on the easel over there? Read the part next to the bold print. Go ahead, read it out loud," he's laughing under his breath. It's an article from the London Times in which he says Levi Strauss was a nice fella, but got too big for his britches, and that Sam Walton was nothing but an "s.o.b" and "a hillbilly".

"I didn't actually hear him say it, but I wouldn't doubt it," says his grandson. Neither would I. Jack will be 107 in March.

You can see 'Mike On America' segments on CNBC's "Power Lunch," Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. You can catch us in person along the road. I'll be the one in a Western shirt.



Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, November 29, 2007

By Penny Parker


Readers of this column are used to seeing snippets about Jack A. Weil, the 106-year-old patriarch of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the LoDo-based snap-front Western shirt manufacturer. Even grandson Steve Weil appears in this space often.

But Jack B. Weil, the 79-year-old son of Jack A. and father of Steve, is the stealth Weil, mostly staying out of the limelight that's cast upon his dad and son.

But beginning next month, it's Jack B.'s turn to shine when Reflections on a Life Lived, a collection of 30 paintings created by the middle Weil go on display at the Berkeley Park Art Gallery, 4999 W. 44th Ave. in north Denver. The pieces are a result of two years' toil.

Opening receptions will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6; from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 7; from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 8. Jack B. will discuss his work at the last two receptions. The show continues 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through December.

The Denver Post

November 16, 2007

Where to find 106-year-old? Wear else?!

By Bill Husted

AOL's home page Thursday featured the full-color mug of the oldest CEO in Denver and maybe America, Jack Weil at Rockmount Ranch Wear.

It linked to a story slugged "Why Eight CEOs Won't Stop," profiling eight men and women over 80 who still go to work.

But Weil is 106. The rest of the gang are a bunch of whippersnappers, ages 80-89. Kids!

The story reports that even though Weil's son, Jack B., is retired and grandson Steve is president of Rockmount, Grandpa Jack has no intention of quitting. "What the %&$# else would I do?" he asks.


This appeared world-wide on the opening pages of MSN.COM December 26, 2007, AOL.COM & INC.COM November 15, 2007

The Centenarian Cowboy
Jack Weil's clothing company, Rockmount Ranch Wear, was made popular by the likes of Clark Gable, Elvis, and other celebrities. Today, Weil still keeps the customers coming in droves. Oh, did we mention he's 106? Meet the oldest entrepreneur in America.

By: Tamara Schweitzer
Published November 2007

Every morning, Jack Weil greets his customers from a desk set up at the front of Rockmount Ranch Wear's flagship store in Denver. He doesn't let anyone pass him by without first asking where they are from. It's a typical routine for many entrepreneurs in the retail world -- except, at 106 years old, Jack Weil is far from the typical entrepreneur.

After more than 60 years with Rockmount, the wholesale western wear business he founded in 1946, Weil still delights at the universal fascination with the West and almost can't believe the distance that customers will travel for the Rockmount brand. "The surprising thing is the number of people that come into our place from all over the world," Weil says. "There's something about cowboys, I guess."

More than a century old, Weil is somewhat of a celebrity in Denver. Indeed, he is widely believed to be the oldest CEO in the United States.

Throughout his years, Weil has overseen the growth of Rockmount from a modest wholesale business that marketed to cowboys in the Western United States, to a recognizable international brand, and a timeless staple of the American fashion industry.
Rockmount shirts have been worn by countless celebrities and musicians dating back to Elvis Presley and Clark Gable, and spanning the decades with Ronald Reagan, and even the modern-day Indie rock band, The Killers. Rockmount apparel has also long-been immortalized on the big screen, and most notably was used to outfit the actors in the 2005 Academy Award-winning movie, Brokeback Mountain.

Yet despite the company's growth and continued popularity, Weil maintains that it is the devotion to individuality that makes Rockmount so unique. Weil claims to have been the first to design western shirts with snaps, instead of buttons -- for a more practical, but also more flattering look -- and he was also the first to commercially produce bolo ties. According to company lore, Rockmount's signature look -- the saw-toothed pocket and diamond snaps -- is the longest-running shirt design in the nation.

For Weil, much of the company's authenticity is rooted in its history as a family business. At one point, Rockmount was a three-generation business. Weil's son, Jack B, joined the company in the 1950s and helped bring Western fashions to the eastern United States, and his grandson Steve arrived in the 1980s and worked to expand the company internationally.

These days, Steve Weil acts as the company president, while Grandpa Jack is content to handle the accounts receivable and spend his mornings in the store sharing personal stories with customers. One of his favorite things to talk about is his granddaughter's dog, whom they named Rocky, after Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Weil's son has already retired from the business, but his centenarian father has no plans to do the same. Asks Weil, "What the hell else would I do?"

The Denver Post

October 11, 2007

by Bill Husted

Boss of shirts.

These are heady days for Rockmount Ranch Wear president Steve Weil. He turns 50 with a party at the Cactus Club on Oct. 20.

The wardrobe coordinator for Eddie Murphy's movie "NowhereLand" keeps buying up Rockmount shirts to dress Thomas Haden Church and Bruce McGill.

But Weil was blown away Sunday night watching "60 Minutes." Reporter Scott Pelley conducted a long interview with Bruce Springsteen - and Pelley was wearing a denim Rockmount shirt! No. 6790-D in fact. Weil was able to contact Pelley.

"I've been buying Rockmount shirts from the Denver store for many years," Pelley wrote back to Weil. "I have a wardrobe of them. Jane (Pelley) wants me to throw the ones out with holes in them but I refuse. I often give Rockmount Ranch Wear as gifts."

Rockmount Ranch Wear president Steve Weil and wife Wendy at a 2003 event. (Post / Hyoung Chang)

Rockmount in the Australian press

Sydney Sun Herald

Sunday 7/10/2007
Travel Section, pg. 22

Living the high life in Denver
The gateway to
Colorado's ski fields has
plenty of attractions
by Debbie Hunter

LIKE NUMEROUS old gold mining towns in the picturesque US state of Colorado, the city of Denver has seen plenty of legends come and go.
Not surprisingly, there are some who take their time leaving what both visitors and locals regard as God's own country. One of them is Jack Weil, or "Papa Jack" as he is referred to by friends.

Originally from Chicago, the 106-year-old can still be found behind the counter of the mega-successful Rockmount Ranch Wear store he established 60 years ago on the downtown Denver street (formerly Wazee) renamed in his honour earlier this year.

Apart from going into the record books as the oldest working CEO, Papa Jack's biggest claim to fame is the snap-button western shirt.
The check shirts with their signature broad yokes, sawtooth pockets and diamond snap buttons are a favourite with real-life cowboys
used to threading a lasso around the legs of a heifer rather than cotton through the eye of a needle.  They've graced the shoulders of some of the biggest names in showbiz, from Elvis to Eric Clapton.

On screen, the slim-fitting shirts priced from $63 have been worn by Urban Cowboy John Travolta, Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer and, more recently, Heath Ledger in Broke back Mountain.
Co-run by Jack's grandson Steve, the store has expanded its range to include boots, hats, skirts, scarves and even children's wear.

Rockmount remains one of the few brands still made in the US, exporting worldwide including to Australia, but a visit here is more than just a place to indulge in some retail therapy. It's become a living museum where the walls are filled with memorabilia - from press clippings to celebrity photos. It's worth your
while to engage Jack in conversation, too. He has ripper yarns he's always keen to share.

You'll find Rockmount in one of the city's oldest timber-and-brick neighbourhoods, an area known as LoDo (Lower Downtown). The district, once rundown, is now vibrant, thanks to stylish new pubs, restaurants, wine and sports bars, art galleries and clothing stores.


October 6, 2007

by Penny Parker

Eddie Murphy's posse keeps stores ka-chinging


Local merchants are lapping up the new movie money that's ringing cash registers around town during the shooting of the Eddie Murphy film NowhereLand this week and next.

Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, is used to selling his company's signature snap-front shirts to movie stars and crew (he sold a barrel full to the costume folks for Brokeback Mountain), but a saddle? Darn tootin'.

NowhereLand set designer David Smith sidled up to a hand-tooled saddle that was part of Rockmount's decor and made Weil an offer.

"He wanted it for Eddie Murphy's office scene," Weil said. "I bought that saddle when I was 13 with my paper-route money." Weil offered to rent it to the designer, but when Smith flashed big bucks, Weil decided to sweep sentimentality out the door. "This makes up for having the streets blocked (Wazee and 17th Avenue) on Wednesday and Thursday," he said.

Jack Lima, owner of Native American Trading Co. on 13th and Bannock, said the movie's props peeps have been by a couple of times to snap up his wares.

"They bought a beaded headdress for (co-star) Thomas Hayden Church, a Navajo blanket and some other things," Lima said.

SIMMS SLAMMED: Phil "Mr. No-Show" Simms took it on the chin several times during the presentation at Men For the Cure, the eighth annual breast cancer charity event at Invesco Field Thursday night.

Simms, the CBS' NFL analyst and former Giants quarterback, left word Sept. 28 that he "couldn't make it" to the event on Thursday after he had been booked for months. Needless to say, event organizers were less than pleased.

"We understand that Phil Simms had a problem with those dog-fighting charges," (ouch!) emcee and CBS 4 weatherman Ed Greene said, but he didn't stop there. "The guy (did us wrong) twice, once at the Super Bowl (when the Giants defeated the Broncos), and once tonight."

Dave Dravecky, the former Padres pitcher, who pinch-hit for Simms, started his speech by asking, "Who's Phil Simms?"

Simms aside, the evening attracted nearly 700 men who managed to tip the eight-year collection total to $1 million. Sharon Magness Blake, who co-founded the event with Greene and Jeff Thompson, was serenaded with Happy Birthday by the crowd led by country singer Lee Greenwood, who performed three songs including his signature God Bless the USA.

GLASSES GATHERER: If Chuck Morris were an NFL quarterback, this would have been his Super Bowl. But Morris, the concert promoter, would rather score glasses than points in the end zone. On Thursday, Morris said he was "in heaven" as the guest of Jeff Breslaw, owner of One-Hour Optical, at the International Vision Expo in Las Vegas.

"I would say besides my family first, the music business second, my third favorite thing in the world is glasses," said the man who owns roughly 40 pairs. "People in the office were worried that I would spend the family fortune they think I have or die of a heart attack from the excitement. I did neither." He did, however, snag five pair of new specs at the show.

THE SEEN: Heisman-Trophy-winning running back and Tennessee Titans stand-out Eddie George lunching at ESPN Zone Thursday after the Rockies defeated the Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. According to my spy, when a fan asked George if he was cheering for the Rockies, he said he is from Philadelphia and a big Phillies fan.

More Murphy: Actor Murphy spotted in an elevator in The Brown Palace Thursday.

SURGERY: I haven't been completely honest when so many of you kind people have asked about my health recently. I'm still cancer free, but a routine MRI July 3 detected some sketchy stuff in my other breast - the one that hadn't been treated for breast cancer last year.

The radiologist described the minor mass as "atypical" cells - ones that could or could not become cancerous. So, the solution is to take them out through surgery scheduled Monday morning. The procedure will be much like the lumpectomy I had before, but less invasive because they aren't taking out any lymphnodes.

I ran into my former radiologist Dr. Steve Parker at a black-tie event earlier this week (he went and retired on me, the rat!), and when I told him what was going on, he described the procedure as a "minor excision. This will truly be a 'ditzelectomy'," he said.

So, I'll be out next week, but would love to hear from you via e-mail. You'll need to let me know what's happening "On the Town."

EAVESDROPPING on a man talking about Sunday's Rapids, Avalanche, Broncos and Rockies games and Race for the Cure: "Sunday would be a very good day to be operating a parking lot."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail

Bruce Springsteen 60 Minutes Interview with Scott Pelley.  Scott is wearing Rockmount shirt No. 6790-D. 

Click here:

Bruce Springsteen was interviewed on 60 Minutes by Scott Pelley on Sunday Oct. 7, 2007.  Scott is wearing Rockmount shirt No. 6790-D.   Steve Weil wrote Steve Hartman of CBS Evening News to contact Scott Pelley.  It turns out Scott Pelley is a longtime Rockmount fan.  Here is the correspondence.

From: Hartman, Steve
To: Pelley, Scott
Sent: Mon Oct 08 17:14:58 2007
Subject: Shirt

Not long ago I did a story about the country's oldest working CEO --
103-yrs! He started a company called Rockmount and basically invented
the western shirt as we know it. Last night with Bruce (great story by
the way) you were wearing one of his designs. His grandson called with
2 requests. 1) Where did you get it? 2) Can they get a digital screen
grab for their website. He tells me you'd be pictured with the likes of
Clapton and Elvis.

Steve Hartman


From: Pelley, Scott
To: Hartman, Steve
Sent: Mon Oct 08 17:25:56 2007
Subject: Re: Shirt

Steve I'd be delighted. I've been buying Rockmount shirts from the Denver store for many years. I have a wardrobe of them. Jane wants me to throw out the ones with holes in them but I refuse...

I often give Rockmount Ranch Wear as gifts.   Send me the e-mail address and I'll send the grab.

All best,

 -- Bruce Springsteen on 60 Minutes, Oct. 7, 2007

The Weils & Rockmount featured as Colorado travel destination in German paper:  Munchner Merkur Sept. 8, 2007


The Rocky Mountain News
By Stuart Steers and Kevin Vaughn
August 25, 2007

Steve Weil President, Rockmount Ranch Wear
Rockmount is the undisputed LoDo headquarters for all things Western, from cowboy hats to rattlesnake belts, and Democrats from ranch-deprived places such as New York and Chicago can be expected to make a pit stop at this Denver institution.

The company is working with Mayor John Hickenlooper to come up with commemorative items. "We probably have 5,000 cowboy hats and 20,000 shirts (in storage) at any given time," Weil said.

Weil vows not to count on selling huge amounts of merchandise during the convention. He remembers his grandfather, Jack, telling him about an Elks convention in the 1930s that brought thousands of people to town. The Denver Dry Goods store stocked hundreds of Rockmount hats, expecting a rush. "10,000 Elks came and left, and the hats stayed on the shelf," Weil said.

Brook Colangelo Director of technology, DNC Committee
Colangelo is 29 and could pass for a college sophomore, but he has one of the biggest jobs around for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

That's because he signed up for the task of building a technology infrastructure that works for everyone: candidates, delegates,staffers, reporters.

He's the guy responsible for figuring out how many phone lines to install, how to build a computer network, how to make sure that every laptop in the Pepsi Center has a wireless Internet connection.

Right now, that means finding the answer to one question: "How are we going to do this?"

By next July, when work begins in earnest to convert the Pepsi Center into a political hall, he has to have a plan for stringing the miles of cable that will be needed for building a system that will hold up to the demands of four whirlwind days and reflect the Democrats' commitment to recycling and other "green" principles.

And then, when it's over, he better be ready to answer another question: "What are we going to do with every mile of cable? How do we make sure it doesn't go in the dumpster?"

Elbra Wedgeworth President, Denver 2008 host committee
Wedgeworth, a former Denver city councilwoman, is widely credited with spearheading Denver's bid for the convention. One of the host committee's main jobs will be to organize the volunteers who will welcome delegates at the airport and guide them around downtown.

"We'll need about 10,000 volunteers, and we have more than half already signed up on our Web site," said Wedgeworth.

The host committee has to live up to its name by throwing a series of parties, including a media kickoff party that should attract 15,000 people and 56 different parties for delegations from Guam to Maine. The volunteers will play a big role in extending convention festivities into neighborhoods all over the state.

The committee is planning dozens of parties where people will be able to watch the convention at local watering holes, and they hope to bring national leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., into gatherings citywide. Special programs for children also are in the works.

"It will be educational and fun," promises Wedgeworth.

Steve Farber Co-chair, Denver 2008 host committee
Farber is one of Denver's most visible attorneys and a player in some of the biggest deals in town, but these days he spends a lot of time begging - for money.

Farber is president and founding partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and that keeps him busy. He's active in charitable causes.

But he's also heading up the effort to raise the $55 million needed to put on next year's Democratic National Convention. Every day, he comes in with the same goal: make 10 phone calls to people and businesses who might be willing to write the checks that will make the convention happen.

He said the effort is going well - the committee has commitments for the $15 million in services it must raise and for more than $20 million in cash. And though the committee missed a June 1 deadline to have $7.5 million in the bank, Farber said he's confident the cash will be raised. "My goal is more concerned with raising the dollars than getting it tomorrow," he said. "Would I love to have it tomorrow? Absolutely. But it's a marathon."

Larry DiPasquale President, Epicurean Catering
DiPasquale, one of Denver's leading caterers, says there may be up to 400 different events during the convention.

"I have two managers who participated in the (1996) Chicago Democratic convention and they were swamped," he said. "That's what we're anticipating."

He's already booked several parties at local law firms, and has arranged to fly in more than a dozen out-of-town chefs to work for Epicurean that week. DiPasquale also has reserved extra refrigerators, ovens and stoves for next August. "You need to do this when you're anticipating serving this many people," he said.


FOX NATIONAL NEWS ON PAPA JACK SEPT 1, 2007 (Windows Media Player)


  St. Louis, MO

Jack Weil is 106 years old and works every day at his store in Denver.

TRAVEL:   New acquaintances make St. Louisan's long road trip special

By Jim Winnerman
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 4:39 PM CDT
The rewards of travel can be whom you meet as much as what you see.

I will always remember three people I met on a driving trip to and from Colorado. One fellow was 106 years old, another 74 and the third was 89 when he died.

I learned about the first gentleman walking near my Denver hotel. An article posted in the window of the Rockmount Western clothing store was about the owner, thought to be the oldest chief executive in the United States. On a whim I went in and found 106-year-old Jack Weil at his desk, going over past due accounts, wearing a straw cowboy hat, bolo tie and Western shirt.

"Where are you from?" he asked after I introduced myself and he had offered a firm handshake. When I mentioned St. Louis, he told me about a business visit he made here in the 1920s.

"The road signs were confusing, and I ended up on Eads Bridge," he recalled. "I refused to pay the toll. It was not my fault."

Impressed with his memory, I told him I had bought suits on Washington Avenue at Curlee Clothing.

"They only made cheap clothing," he said.

I sat fascinated as Weil volunteered the history of his clothing store. He personally had known blue jean maker Levi Strauss and hat maker John Stetson. Weil himself originated the snaps and triangular shaped pockets now common on many Western shirts.

When I left, I was calling him "Papa Jack" like everyone else in the store. I told him I'd stop in again on my next visit.

"It will be nice to see you, and you do not have to buy anything," he said. Then he added, "But it would be nice."

Planning a trip to Denver? The the fellow I met can make the long journey unforgettable.

SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, Australia   August 12, 2007

Arroyo Monthly, Pasadena CA

Cowgirl chic goes south of the border
July 30, 2007

By Irene Lacher

Now here's a border issue you can wrap your head around-or at least your belt. The cantina look—where rugged Western fashion meets its Mexican girly-girl counterpart—is riding high in cowgirl-style circles these days. Going cantina chic can mean pairing sturdy jeans and cowboy boots with a fringed leather bolero jacket. Or try a rust-colored prairie skirt—better yet, a tiered mini—with a tooled Mexican loop gun holster—sans the gun, of course.

It's the latest twist on an American fashion staple that's as indestructible as animal prints and Vuitton bags. Nothing comes between Hollywood and its cowboy boots, which are favorites of Kate Hudson and Sandra Bullock. Neo-cowgirls Mary J. Blige and Sheryl Crowe have been known to hit city streets in cowboy hats. Over recent seasons, Western wear has also shown up on the runways of designers like Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenberg. Even Britain's Luella Bartley dressed models in Apache headdresses with sheer black baby doll dresses for her geographically confused collection, “Cowboys and Indians at Glastonbury.”

Western wear keeps coming back because it has that comfort and easy sex appeal associated with a life lived in the great outdoors. Marlboro Man, anyone? As Anna Sui said, explaining her collection of embroidered petticoats and scrunched cowboy boots, “It makes sense to look to what's going on in our country. This is what was happening here.”
All fashions are available at the SW Hill Country Store, 1412 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323) 256-2500.

Cantina Cool

This red cotton Western shirt with black-and-white embroidery, black piping, smile pockets and “shotgun” sleeves is made by Rockmount Ranch Wear, whose company founder, Jack A. Weil, is credited with putting the snap into Western shirts. $99.

TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno interview with Papa Jack is August 1 on NBC.   This segment has to do with the DNC coming to Denver next year.

If he can stay up so can the rest of us!

They asked him "Who do you prefer:  Grover Cleveland or George Bush?"  

One answer might have been David Letterman...
By Penny Parker

July 24, 2007

THE SEEN: The legendary Bob Dylan and crew buying 20 signature snap-front shirts at Rockmount Ranch Wear in LoDo preconcert Friday. "And you know what the worst thing was?" Rockmount heir Steve Weil told me. "I wasn't there."

Entertainment Section
By John Wenzel
Denver Post staff writer
July 20, 2007

Cheyenne Frontier Days keeps cowboy legend kickin'
Jack A. Weil, the wizened, 106-year-old CEO of ROCKMOUNT RANCH WEAR, once said "There's no Westerner like an Easterner."

Shawn Basinger of Galeton, CO gets down and dirty in the steer wrestling event of the rodeo at the Cheyenne Frontier Days 2006 in Cheyenne Wyoming. (the Post | John Leyba)

Listen up, pardner, because the truth in that cannot be overstated.

LoDo-based Rockmount, founded by Weil in 1946, helped popularize Western wear around the world, allowing buttoned-down types to don hats, spurs and all manner of polished leather in an attempt to become cowboys and cowgirls for a day.

In the modern West, is there any other type?

Just as studded Harley-Davidson gear replaces business suits for many on the weekends, Temporary Cowboy Syndrome is a fixture of our region. And just as anyone can be Irish on St. Patrick's Day, any city slicker can transform into a cowpoke during Cheyenne Frontier Days.

The world's largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration (a.k.a. "The Daddy of 'Em All") is the epicenter of Temporary Cowboy Syndrome. Kicking off today and marking its 111th mounting, the event combines world-class cattle roping with parades, pancake breakfasts and arena-sized concerts from Bon Jovi, Reba McEntire, Big & Rich, Def Leppard and others.

"People get to live somewhat of a fantasy at Cheyenne Frontier Days," said president Charlie West. "It's like going to Disneyland for the first time. You walk through that gate and you just forget about everything else.

"You want to be a piece of everything around you. You want to stand up and scream and holler."

Explosive population growth and industrialization have been realities in the West for more than a century, but our collective myths about the region - eternal abundance, lawless adventure, untamed wilderness - sustain and reinforce a national dream of rugged individualism.

"In 1890 the U.S. Census declared that the American frontier was gone," said Michael Kassel, exhibits curator at Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. "That signaled the disappearance of natives wandering the plains, the open range and big cattle drives. That same year, Cheyenne became the capital of Wyoming, and people there were acutely aware of how quickly the West was disappearing."

At a stop in Cheyenne, Fredrick Angier, a passenger agent for the Union Pacific Railroad, witnessed two men trying to wrestle a horse into a boxcar. An idea struck him, and in 1897 he joined with Cheyenne Daily Sun-Leader publisher Col. E.A. Slack to found Cheyenne Frontier Days to commemorate the Old West's passing.

In the 21st century, the basics of that rodeo celebration remain largely unchanged - except now it attracts half a million people from every corner of the globe.

"Frontier Days has a strong role in keeping the myth of the West alive," Kassel said. "The breaking of horses, the corralling of livestock ... a lot of things you see in rodeo today are the skills that cowboys and ranchers used to survive."

Paying to live the dream
These days, most people can get close to that lifestyle only by paying for it. Cowboy schools and adventure weeks preserve a certain version of the West that people like to think they live in, even though most of us dwell in urban centers such as Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Salt Lake City.

"Our clients grew up with the cowboy dream," said Penny Persson, owner of Colorado Cattle Co. and Guest Ranch. "They watched 'Bonanza' or 'Big Valley' on TV, but they turned away from it when they got a job, got married and moved to suburbia. At one point they woke up, looked around and said, 'Well, I miss that dream.'"
Persson's working ranch, two hours northeast of Denver in New Raymer, hosts 350 to 400 guests each year at $1,650 a head for a week of authentic ranching and rodeo skills.

"People have a romanticized version of the West, riding the range and working cattle," Persson said. "I believe it takes a special facility to give them the experience that meets their dream."

At Persson's hands-on operation, guests brand cattle in the spring, help vaccinate and care for sick animals, and drive herds to market alongside the ranch's real cowboys. Many clients come from as far as Italy, France and Sweden for the experience.

The icon of the cowboy is more appealing to Europeans than the American flag, Persson said, because the latter implies our political standing, and the former is universal.

"They see the cowboy as a symbol of freedom that's unchanging and unyielding because people are concerned they're losing the West," she said. "It's changing and evolving our land as society and technology encroaches."

People may love the universality of the cowboy image, but it's easy to overdo it. Saddling up in Western wear doesn't need to be a once-yearly costume timed to such events as Cheyenne Frontier Days or the National Western Stock Show.

A slice of stylish rebellion
"We're all about lifestyle, and the beauty of Western (wear) is its immense breadth," said
Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear and the grandson of its founder. "It's a wide spectrum of styles, colors and looks, everything from flamboyant to conservative."
Weil said that Rockmount, a manufacturer that sells to retailers around the world, resists the idea of Western wear as a uniform. The company offers 200 varieties of shirts, for example, spanning denim, linen, plaids, stripes and checks.

"If you're not wearing this stuff already, then you shouldn't jump into the whole thing at once, because you'll feel like Howdy Doody," Weil said. "You want to build it gradually so you'll be comfortable. I can wear a Western shirt and penny loafers, or a pair of boots and a suit.

"That's the beauty of Western - it's very individual. The whole point of it was a rebellion against conformity."

For the hundreds of thousands that will swarm Cheyenne over the next 10 days, it's also a sweet, collective dream.

Staff writer John Wenzel can be reached at 303-954-1642 or

Rocca sees city's sights for Tonight Show

July 12, 2007

Penny Parker

Comedian and Tonight Show correspondent Mo Rocca was as busy as a beaver Tuesday and Wednesday interviewing local notables and seeing the sights around Denver in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention here next August.

After conducting man-on-the-street interviews Tuesday along the 16th Street Mall, Rocca and camera crew ducked into Mariel, a tres chic women's clothing boutique on Larimer Square.

"They wanted to show a place where the candidates' wives might shop," said Mariel owner Denise Snyder. "(Rocca) held up two outfits for the camera: a red ruffled trench coat for John Edwards' wife, a gray Audrey Hepburn brocade jacket for Barack Obama's wife..."

Wednesday morning, Rocca stopped by Rockmount Ranch Wear to interview "Papa" Jack Weil, the store's 106-year-old founder and the inventor of the Western snap-front shirt.

"It's not easy for a 106-year-old guy to do sound bites," said Rockmount heir Steve Weil. "He starts talking about the 1930s, and it takes a while."

Steve and the Tonight Show crew swapped T-shirts, and they all bought signature shirts.

"One of the things Rocca said to Papa Jack after talking about Brokeback Mountain (Rockmount supplied shirts for the movie) was, 'Papa Jack, don't quit me.' "

Steve said the funny man also asked Papa Jack whom he liked of the Democratic candidates. "He said, 'I'm a Republican.' "

Denver's segment will air in August on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. I'll let you know when I hear a specific date.

EAVESDROPPING on a man looking out the window on 14th Street during the Oceanaire party: "I just looked up and saw this hot chick and it was my wife. Boy, am I lucky."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail

Rocky Mountain News July 10, 2007  Tonight Show to interview Papa Jack

July 10, 2007
' Tonight Show checks on DNC doings

Penny Parker

It'll be a tale of two cities with a twist when comedian Mo Rocca brings a Tonight Show With Jay Leno crew here today and tomorrow to shoot a segment on things to do in Denver while attending the Democratic National Convention next August.

Tonight will put Minneapolis, site of the Republican National Convention, under the same entertainment microscope.

"They want to see how prepared are we for the DNC and how prepared Minneapolis is for the RNC," said Angela Berardino, spokeswoman for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau who's been working with Tonight Show producers.

Plans include Rocca interviews with Mayor John Hickenlooper and "Papa" Jack Weil, the 106-year-old founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, as well as footage of the Coors brewery, Elitch Gardens and man-on-the-street bits along the 16th Street Mall.

"We know they're going to tease us, but overall I think it's going to be positive," Berardino said. Tonight's shooting schedule includes the devilish drag show Demented Divas: Half Baked and Fully Toasted, a tribute to food and booze, at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street.

"Some of us had new wigs made," said head diva Nuclia Waste about the pending national exposure. "Mine's pink with big barrel curls." The show (8 p.m. Tuesdays) also stars Portia Potty, Gabbriella Butz'In and Iona Trailer. "This is huge," Waste said. "It's national exposure for a little drag show"...

EAVESDROPPING on a woman and a man at The Empress restaurant: "My new kitchen has incest lights." "That would be recessed lights." Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail parkerp@RockyMoun

Fodor's Travel Guide to Colorado features Rockmount

June 18, 2007

Denver goes with what it knows
Visitors bureau gives outsiders the inside scoop

By Linda Castrone Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Handout

Everyone knows about the Rocky Mountains and the 300-plus days of sunshine a year.

But that's not enough to persuade them to vacation in Denver.

They need to know what there is to do once they get here and how they can find the authentic "Denver" experiences usually reserved for locals.

In a bold, new ad campaign called "Know What the Locals Know," the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau is trying to deliver just that.

Designed by Denver's Karsh/Hagan agency, the ads that debuted in April team photos of locals with three- and four-word tips, then refer interested travelers to for more information.

Jack Weil, the 106-year-old founder of Rockmount Ranchwear, appears in one that says, "Ask for Papa Jack," for example. A Brown Palace Hotel chef appears in another, urging readers to "Try the bison."

Other ads highlight the Denver Art Museum, Lower Downtown, outdoor activities and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

"Everybody knows we have the mountains, so we have to put a face on Denver and the things that make it special," said Pasquale "Pocky" Marranzino, chairman of Karsh/Hagan. "There's nothing in the world like Red Rocks. It's a singular experience."

So are playing golf and skiing the same day, viewing Denver's own bison herd, watching a ballgame at Coors Field and ordering buffalo at the Brown Palace.

"Our roots are in the West, which is always a selling point," Marranzino said. "But you can get the West elsewhere. You have to combine it with the high energy and fun" of vibrant shopping, dining, culture and night- life opportunities.

"We have a Western heritage, and we don't have to shy away from it," said bureau president Richard Scharf. "But we've had a cultural renaissance and fine dining, too."

Added Rich Grant, the bureau's spokesman, "We're urban mountain West, the Ralph Lauren West, not the hokey dude-ranch stuff."

If early tallies are any indication, the campaign is a winner. After just two months of print, TV and billboard ads in target markets, traffic to the tourism bureau's website is up 30 to 40 percent.

For definitive data about its effectiveness, they'll have to wait for next year's industry survey by Longwoods International.  The campaign is funded by a 1 percentage point increase in the lodgers tax, which generates about $4 million in revenue each year.


AAA VIA Magazine on Denver:  Visit Rockmount

5280 Magazine profiles Papa Jack

French Magazine Le Point picks Rockmount for visit to Denver, the gateway to the great quest of the West.

Jun 8, 2007 6:45 am US/Mountain

CBS4 Denver - Ranch Wear Business Features 3 Generations

Weil Family Men Are Driving Force Behind Rockmount Ranch Wear

(CBS4) DENVER Three generations of fathers, including America's oldest CEO at 106-years-old, are the driving force behind a landmark Denver business. Rockmount Ranch Wear has been selling western clothing since 1946.

"Papa" Jack A. Weil, the CEO, his son Jack B. Weil, 77 and the company's vice president, and Steve Weil, another vice president, recently sat down with CBS4's Brooke Wagner to talk about the company that goes behind family tradition.

The eldest Weil still heads to work 5 days a week with son Jack B. and grandson Steve. He got the idea for Rockmount when he was a traveling salesman. He wanted to make western shirts with snaps.

"Are you proud of what you've built?" Wagner asked.

"It's very satisfactory," said Jack A. Weil. "It's very self satisfactory."

His western shirt with snaps is the longest running production shirt in America. It's in the Smithsonian and "Papa" Jack always has one on.

Weil said he wanted to give cowboys a style more trademark than tumbleweed.

"Minneapolis, Minnesota. See, the whole country goes for this stuff!" he said.

The eldest Weil's son, Jack B., joined the company in 1954 after serving in the Korean war. The son took Rockmount behind the Mississippi.

"I styled the line for 25 years," Jack B. said. "I'd buy piece goods and draw up the shirt and have it made. We always did okay, but it wasn't anything special. I don't know how we finally got into the limelight, a lot of people didn't even know we were in town."

Rockmount eventually made it into the movies with its western wear shirts and recently opened a retail store in its Wazee Street building in Denver.

Grandson Steve Weil started working with the company in 1981 and took it international.

"We had to get involved to meet that new environment or go out of business," Steve said. "So I think we've successfully reinvented ourselves. Now we have contact with people all over the world, including someone in Antarctica.

The fourth Weil generation, Coulter, 9, hasn't decided yet if his destiny lies on Wazee St. But he has already helped pick colors for the Rockmount Kids' line and stand by the product. He has five or six of ten of the shirts.

"Today, what makes us, gives us the notoriety, is that we're the last guys standing," Jack A. Weil said. "We are the last and earliest business left in this neighborhood."

(© MMVII CBS Television Stations, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES MAGAZINE visit Denver article features Rockmount and Papa Jack.

Papa Jack is featured in the "Visit Denver"  advertising campaign by the Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau.  This billboard is in Pheonix, AZ, in addition to others in Albuquerque and Minneapolis.


"ASK FOR PAPA JACK" is on billboards and print ads promoting "VISIT DENVER"  by the Denver Visitors & Convention Bureau in Phoenix, Albuquerque, & Minneapolis. 

National Public Radio, Morning Edition:  JACK WEIL OLDEST CEO

National Public Radio

Oldest CEO Draws Fans to Denver

by Nancy Greenleese Morning Edition, April 27, 2007 ·

The man believed to be the country's oldest chief executive officer of a company is 106. Jack Weil goes to work every day at
Rockmount Ranch Wear, the western clothing apparel company he founded in 1946. Customers flock to the store's headquarters in Denver for more than just rodeo wear. They want to spend time with the man called "Papa Jack." From member station KUNC in Greeley, Colo., Nancy Greenleese reports.


April 17, 2007

Penny Parker

GIANTS SALE: Rockmount Ranch Wear heir Steve Weil told me Monday that two of the San Francisco Giants, in town to face the Rockies this week, stopped by the LoDo store and bought a monster pile of shirts.

Giants hitting coach Joe -Lefebvre said about the shirts: "We hit a home run today. This is beautiful stuff."

Weil mentioned to bullpen catcher Bill Hayes that the snap-shirt czar of the store had attended the Rockies home opener but that the home team lost. Hayes said he thought the Rockies are looking strong this year but hoped not too strong this week.



March 27, 2007

Rockmount's chief turns 106

By Will Shanley Denver Post Staff Writer

Jack Weil sits where he does every weekday, in his office at Rockmount Ranch Wear on Wazee Street. Believed to be the oldest CEO in the U.S., he founded Rockmount in 1946. His Western shirt design with snaps instead of buttons has endured as a hit for decades. (Post / Andy Cross)


Jack A. Weil, the founder and chief executive of Denver-based Rockmount Ranch Wear, is believed to be the nation's oldest CEO. He turns 106 today. Credited with introducing snap buttons on Western shirts, Weil's slim-fitting shirts have been worn by luminaries including Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton. "We hit on something that interested people," said Weil, speaking from the company's retail outlet and offices at 1626 Wazee St. in downtown Denver. "It was the attraction of the Rocky Mountains." Weil's grandson Steve heads daily operations of the manufacturing company, which sells internationally.

Older, Wiser
Jack Weil typically works about four hours each weekday at the office and is driven to and from his home. In the off hours, he said, he likes to watch reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show," which premiered when Weil was 59. Weil has learned a thing or two about life and business during his more than 10 decades. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from "Papa Jack."

On making a good Western shirt:
"A crummy shirt fits like a sack. The other is a form-fitting shirt, which is what I figured to make."

On building a successful business: "You've got to consider the environment, and you've got to consider the times. I learned a long time ago that I don't want anyone to give me more than 5 percent of my business. Because if I lose them, that would put too much pressure on (the company)."

On dealing with overdue customers: "I suggest that they send me three or four checks post-dated. Not too many (business) people do that. You have to understand your customers' problems."

On working every day: "What the heck else would I do?"

On opening a retail store: "We went into retail to stay in business. Wal-Mart has put a lot of independent merchants out of business. The wholesalers are nearly gone. But it might be better for the consumer."

On doing business with the founder of retailer J.C. Penney: "I sold Penney some of his first shirts. James Cash Penney was a country boy out of Missouri. He was a smart guy."

On money and politics: "I've always felt that a young man worth his salt is a Democrat until he makes a little money. And if he wants to save that money, he becomes a Republican."

On marrying well: "I guess I didn't know any better. I married a country girl, but she was a smarty." (His wife, Beatrice, died in 1990.)

On drinking whiskey: "I drink for medicinal purposes. I take a shot of Jack Daniel's about twice a week to keep my blood thin." Staff writer Will Shanley can be reached at 303-954-1260 or

TIME LINE - Jack A. Weil
March 28, 1901: Weil was born in Evansville, Ind., to Abraham Weil, who fled the Alsace-Lorraine region of France during the Franco-Prussian invasion of 1871.

June 22, 1926: He married Beatrice Baum in Humboldt, Tenn. They had two children, son Jack B. in 1928 and daughter Jane Romberg in 1935. Beatrice died in 1990.

1928: The Weils moved to Denver so he could market Paris Garters for the A. Stein Co. of Chicago. "When I came to Denver, Highway 40 down Colfax was a gravel road," Weil said.

1935: He became a partner in the Stockman Co., which sold jeans and hats to farmers and working cowboys. Weil persuaded chamber of commerce and rodeo officials to promote their towns and events by wearing Western clothes. The strategy worked, and the firm, now Miller Co., prospered.

1939: Weil paid for his first house at 233 Belaire St., in full, after saving for 11 years. The family later moved to Capitol Hill, where Weil lives today. Weil began making shirts inspired by fashions he saw in early Western movies.

1940s: Weil was an air-raid warden during WWII.

1946: Weil founded Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co., 1626 Wazee St. His shirt design of the sawtooth pocket and diamond signature snap instead of buttons is among the longest-running shirt designs manufactured in the U.S. He had to persuade his Eastern manufacturers to create a snap that would survive a ringer washing machine. "If a cowboy's buttoned shirt got hooked on a steer's horn, it would hold," he said. "But the snap would pop open."

1952: His son, Jack B. Weil, joined the firm, broadening Rockmount's lines and expanding the company nationally.

1981: Grandson Steve Weil joined Rockmount after receiving degrees from Tulane University and the University of Bristol in England. Steve extended Rockmount's reach across the globe.

January 2001: Wazee Street was renamed by Mayor Wellington Webb as "Jack A. Weil Way" in recognition of his 100th birthday. An annual sign-changing celebration has continued since then, including today at 11:30 a.m.

November 2005: The Rockmount warehouse was renovated and opened as the flagship store and museum at 1626 Wazee. Rockmount shirts were worn in the movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Sources: The Denver Post archives; Steve Weil of Rockmount Ranch Wear Compiled by Vickie Makings of The Denver Post Research Library


FRONT COVER -  March 29, 2007

'Papa Jack' moseys to another birthday

Barry Gutierrez © The Rocky

"Papa Jack" Weil - who turned 106 Wednesday - is at his desk every weekday morning at Rockmount Ranch Wear, the LoDo Western wear company he founded in 1946.

Audio slide show: 'Papa Jack' Weil turns 106

Some people never quit. "Papa Jack" Weil - who turned 106 Wednesday - is at his desk every weekday morning at Rockmount Ranch Wear, the LoDo Western wear company he founded in 1946.

"Papa Jack has always been the patriarch of our family," Steve Weil said of his grandfather. "He's been sort of a mythic figure for all of the family. Growing up, he was the go-to guy. He was the guy we went to with all of the trials and tribulations of growing up."

Jack A. Weil, who was born nearly three years before the Wright brothers made their first flight, does business in the same Wazee Street building where he founded his company, a historic brick structure dating to 1908.

Denver marked "Papa Jack's" birthday with a change of street signs - from Wazee Street to Jack A. Weil Boulevard. The city began the annual tradition of the street sign change in Weil's honor the year he turned 100.



January 17, 2007
Rockmount heir got heads-up about Democratic convention
by Penny Parker        Page 7a


Penny Parker
Three weeks prior to the announcement by national party Chairman Howard Dean, Weil got a call from an unnamed Democratic "inner circle" source ordering a Rockmount signature snap shirt. That person said he/she was buying the shirt because Denver was landing the convention.

On Thursday, the day that Denver got the Democratic nod, a New York Times reporter was using his nose for news around LoDo when he wandered into Rockmount.

Weil, lunching at the private men's place The Cactus Club, got a call from an employee saying that the Times was asking about the store.

Weil met the report

er and later that day The New York Times posted a story on its Web site quoting wily Weil's shirt story.

"We're always the poster child of the stock show; now this is something bigger," Weil said.


Jan 14, 2006
Chic's in the details
Tends in Western wear this season include appliques, embroidery


Thousands who suit up in their Stetsons and jeans each January for their annual trip to Denver aren't coming just to show their livestock or see a rodeo at the National Western Stock Show.

Some come from as far away as Sweden or Japan to roam the halls of the Denver Merchandise Mart, looking for the latest trends in Western fashion and accessories to take back to their stores.

Close to 6,000 buyers from 28 countries are in town for the International Western/English Apparel & Equipment January Market, which ends Tuesday.

The trade show is open only to registered retail buyers and store owners, but we got a sneak peek at the trends barreling out of the market by talking with retailers, manufacturers and to Brenda Christy, who coordinates the runway show that kicked off the market on Friday.

The big trend for the season is embellishment, she says.

"In particular, we're seeing denim with all sorts of details like Swarovski crystals, skulls and roses embroidery, suede appliqués, cut-outs, studs, lace and even embedded turquoise," Christy says.

Decorative trims, unusual materials and textures also are being used on boots, hats and belts, she says. "There's dyed lizard, floral printed leathers, calf hair in colors like fuchsia and combinations of things you'd never expect, like hats with straw and crushed velvet. It's no-holds- barred and quite ostentatious."

Denver has hosted the trade show, which features tack and gift items as well as clothing, since 1922. "We're in our 85th year and are the biggest show of this kind and the only one with a runway fashion show," says Toni High, executive director of the Western & English Sales Association.

This year, the runway show featured hundreds of pieces of clothing, hats, boots and other accessories from about 50 manufacturers.

Western-wear shirt makers, like Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver continue to use appliqués,

Rockmount leather and 2-tone shirt #6748 top right
Rockmount Pink shirt, hat and boots for kids bottom left
hand painting and chenille embroidery in their designs for men, women and children. And even though the company's vintage-inspired collection goes back 15 years - with many of the looks culled from archives that date to 1946 - it's still growing and being copied widely in the industry, according to vice president Steve Weil.

"Our designs have been picked up by other brands more in the past year than ever before," he says.

Of the company's signature sawtooth pockets and snap-fronts, he adds, wryly, "We kept the fins on the cars and the integrity of the design is such that you can spot Rockmount when other brands have become generic."

"Women want shirts with lots of special details that make them seem unique and personal," Fisher says, noting that they are suited for Western-themed events as well as for everyday occasions. "We build in function so that the shirt is long enough to stay tucked into jeans and fits well through the shoulders for riding, but details like two-tone snaps and frayed edges add a fashion touch."

Western jeans still have such important details as slits in the hem so they fit easily over boots, and are extra-long for horseback riding, but they're following the industry as a whole, trendwise. That means darker finishes, black denim and less sanding, abrading and whiskering. Cigarette-leg jeans in stretch fabrics are also in Cruel Girl's current collection.

For some stores, it's all about the accessories and special pieces. Roxanne Thurman, owner of Cry Baby Ranch on Larimer Square in Denver, says she laughs when people come into her store and remark that she must be glad because "Western boots are back."

"Boots are never out of style," says Thurman, who stocks such high-end brands as Liberty, Old Gringo and Stallion. "As far as we're concerned, everything starts with the boots, then you add great jewelry, belts, tops. Our business is very item-driven and isn't trendy."

January 12, 2007


New York Loses Out to Denver in Quest for the ’08 Democratic Convention

Photographs by Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

As Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver announced the choice, the word was also flashed by a news ticker near the reflected State Capitol.

DENVER, Jan. 11 — The Democratic Party chose Denver over New York on Thursday as the site for its next national convention, capping months of debate about which city had better logistics, deeper pockets and a more compelling backdrop to frame the party’s message.
The Caucus

The Caucus

Kate Phillips and The Times's politics staff report on the latest political news from around the nation.

“If we’re going to have a national party, we’re going to have to have Westerners vote for us on a consistent basis,” the Democratic national chairman, Howard Dean, said in a telephone news conference. “At the end of the day,” Mr. Dean added, “that’s what tipped it to Denver.”

Denver economic development officials said that by one important measure, the convention, to be held Aug. 25-28, 2008, would be the biggest gathering in the city’s history, with 35,000 people spending hundreds of millions of dollars on food, drink and places to sleep.

No national political convention has been held in Denver in nearly a century, since Democrats gathered here in 1908 and bestowed their presidential nomination on William Jennings Bryan, who went on to lose the election to William Howard Taft. But Western Democrats — led by Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver and the new Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada — argued throughout their party’s selection process that the shifting demographics of the region, where Democrats have made big gains, was a strong suit in Denver’s bid.

Yet if Democrats are stronger in the West, they are also probably more iconoclastic and diverse than ever, political experts say. That could make the party’s Western venture less predictable, if not downright disharmonious. Many Western Democrats, like Senator Jon Tester of Montana, oppose tough restrictions on gun ownership; others, like Colorado’s new governor, Bill Ritter, have voiced personal opposition to abortion.

Five of the eight states in the interior West now have Democratic governors. The party picked up about 25 state legislative seats in November’s elections as well, gaining ground in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado and Idaho, while suffering a net loss of seats to the Republicans only in Montana. The United States Senate swung to Democratic control partly on the shoulders of Mr. Tester, who defeated Senator Conrad Burns.

“The last few election cycles helped get the attention” of the Democratic National Committee, the party’s Colorado chairwoman, Pat Waak, said at a news conference here. “It is a new Democrat that is out there, epitomized by what is happening in the West.”

The Republicans, who will meet in Minneapolis-St. Paul to select their party’s nominee the week after the Democratic convention, are expected to make a similar declaration: that the assumptions of the old political map are dead, meaning the traditionally Democratic upper Midwest has become a battleground too. Colorado last went for a Democratic presidential nominee in 1992, choosing Bill Clinton, while Minnesota last went Republican in 1972, for Richard M. Nixon.

Supporters of Denver’s bid said money and labor had been the two stickiest points in making the city’s case. A host city needs to raise about $55 million to draw a national party convention, a tough proposition in a state with only 4.7 million people. And for a while, it appeared that concerns about the treatment of labor unions could also derail the city’s hopes; Pepsi Center, the site of the convention, normally uses nonunion labor.

Mr. Dean said in his news conference that the labor issues had not been fully resolved, even though he had dealt directly with John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and Anna Berger, chairwoman of a rival labor group, the Change to Win Coalition. “There are always labor issues with every convention,” Mr. Dean said. “We believe that these issues will be resolved.”

Governor Ritter too said the labor matter was still being addressed, though he declined to provide details.

In New York, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who in recent weeks had appeared to back away from his city’s bid because of the costs of acting as host, said that he was disappointed with the outcome but that New York had other priorities, including raising money for the World Trade Center Memorial and for new antipoverty programs.

“Those are our priorities, a lot more than bringing a convention here,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters at a news conference in Brooklyn. “I talked to a number of people, and I think generally most people agreed with me that it would be problematic to raise money now in this city. And, you know, Minneapolis and Denver will have to do it, but they haven’t had conventions and it’s important to them and I think they’ll be able to do it.”

At least one business owner here said he had known that the convention was coming. How? Because of a shirt.

Steven Weil, who owns Rockmount Ranch Wear in downtown Denver — shirts with snaps, dudes in chaps — said someone in the “inner circle” of the selection process, whom he declined to identify, called several weeks ago to place an order. Denver, Mr. Weill decided then, was in.

Kirk Johnson reported from Denver, and John M. Broder from Washington. Dennis Carroll contributed reporting from Denver, and Diane Cardwell from New York.

January 11, 2007


12 things to do in Denver when you're here

To the naysayers hurling raspberries at the tourism potential of a Democratic National Convention in Denver, we say this: Anything New York can do, we can do better. We ve got your art (how bout a big blue bear?). We ve got your celebrities (like comedian Josh Blue). We ve got your sense of history. And we ve got it all without a $20 cover to leave your hotel.

What we have that New York doesn't

New venue for art gazing

New York: Refurbished Museum of Modern Art

Denver: Daniel Libeskind's deconstructionist Denver Art Museum Hamilton wing

It's as artful as the blazing-hot collection inside. Yeah, we have some Impressionist stuff in there, but the real fun is the modern and contemporary work hanging on the akimbo walls.

Outdoor concert spot

New York: Strawberry Fields, in Central Park

Denver: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, west of Denver

It is one of the greatest outdoor concert venues of all time. (Ask the Beatles and U2.) The place works as well for hair bands as it does for symphony orchestras. If you're really lucky, the full moon will rise over the stage.

Colossal figure

New York: The Statue of Liberty

Denver: The Big Blue Bear peering into the window of downtown's Colorado Convention Center

I got yer kulchah right here ...

New York: Lincoln Center

Denver: The Denver Performing Arts Complex, at 14th and Curtis streets

It takes in the mammoth Buell Theatre for big traveling shows, the Boettcher Theatre for concerts in the round, the Helen G. Bonfils Theatre Complex, with four more intimate performance spaces, and the new Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Must-do thing that proves you're practically a native

New York: Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge

Denver: Drive over Trail Ridge Road

The highest continuous motorway in the U.S. winds through Rocky Mountain National Park and tops out at 12,183 feet.

Specialty shopping experience

New York: Barneys

Denver: Rockmount Ranch Wear, 1626 Wazee St.

This store has outfitted cowboys and wannabes since 105-year-old proprietor Jack A. Weil was, well, a middle-aged man.

Defining shopping experience

New York: Bloomingdale's

Denver: REI's cavernous flagship store on the banks of the Platte River

People might be outdoors trying out mountain bikes on the path or kayaks in the river, sort of summing up what it really means to be a Coloradan.

Great jazz haunt

New York: Birdland

Denver: El Chapultepec, at 20th and Market streets

This legendary dive has hosted jazz, blues and rock luminaries since 1951. Cheap beer takes a bit of the sting out of the two-drink per-set minimum.

Vintage downtown building

New York: Chrysler Building

Denver: The 23-story Daniels & Fisher Tower at 16th and Arapahoe streets

Dwarfed by the contemporary buildings nearby, this elegant tower was once the nation's third-tallest building.

Beloved indie bookstore

New York: The Strand Book Store

Denver: The Tattered Cover Book Store

Owned by First Amendment defender Joyce Meskis, this store has three locations. Check out the miles of shelves at the LoDo location - the political section is particularly choice. At 16th and Wynkoop, it's just a few blocks from convention HQ.

Sacred ground

New York: Grant's Tomb

Denver: Buffalo Bill's Grave

Located about 30 minutes west of Denver on Interstate 70, this is where we pay homage to William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, famed scout, Pony Express rider and showman extraordinaire.

Comic celeb seen on the street

New York: Jerry Seinfeld

Denver: Josh Blue

The "Last Comic Standing" winner lives in the Golden Triangle neighborhood south of downtown and sometimes headlines at Comedy Works at the edge of Larimer Square.



Colorado Springs Gazette
December 03, 2006
Rail World: Denver

Southeast line makes for pleasant entry into city


If you have a hankering for the real thing, mosey down the street to Rockmount Ranch Wear (1626 Wazee St.) where the snap-button cowboy shirt was invented and the first bolo tie was sold. If you're lucky, you'll run into Jack A. Weil, the founder, who works daily at age 105.

He wasn't in when we stopped by, but we still had a blast searching through the hundreds of ornate, stitched shirts that have gained favor with notables from Ronald Reagan to Robert Redford. Don't miss the little museum of historic shirts up the narrow stairs.

The best view from Denver's new southeast light rail line is from a spot between Dry Creek and County Line roads where the train climbs a slight rise and the white caps of the Continental Divide float in the west like sails over a sea of rooftops.

The most gratifying view, though, is out the other side of the train, where riders whizzing along at 50 mph can watch the traffic crawl along I-25.

Drivers stuck in that traffic have an equally clear view of the train flying by. It's no wonder city planners expect the recently opened train to attract 38,000 riders a day.

But the train isn't just for frustrated commuters. It's perfect for out-of-town visitors, too. Anyone driving up from Colorado Springs will save money, hassle, and probably time by taking the train downtown.

On a recent Saturday, my wife and I set off to test the train. As former Denverites who moved south to the Springs, we wondered, could it really make visiting the Mile High City easier? Our verdict: All aboard!

The train is fast, comfortable and fun, and — perhaps most useful of all during this holiday shopping season -- it can deliver gift-buyers to Denver's hip retail nucleus, LoDo, where they can shop all day without thinking about parking.

We spent a full day downtown, exploring shops, taking in the newly opened Denver Art Museum building, and sampling some of the LoDo'\s restaurants, and we never once worried about how much time was left on the parking meter.

The $5.50 round-trip train ticket saved money on parking. We didn't have to scout the downtown grid for a spot. But most of all, it was fun.

We drove to the Lincoln Avenue station at the southern end of the line, on the edge of where Tech Center traffic usually begins to congeal. Within minutes, we breezed past the automated ticket machines and climbed onto a waiting train.

Riders getting on at the end of the line have a distinct advantage; since you are first, you get your pick of the seats. We found a pair of facing seats on the mountain side of the train, and leaned back and relaxed as the doors closed.

Anyone who has lived in a big city will immediately notice something missing: the bumps. This ride is unbelievably smooth.

Across the aisle, a man was bouncing his daughter on his knee. As she giggled he said, "This is how the trains in New York City feel."

It's true. The Subway, the El, the Metro — they all squeal and shudder like frightened livestock. Denver's light rail is as calm and silent as a plastic Buddha. The only noise it makes is when it's coming into the next station and lets out a slight, satisfied hum.

The trip downtown takes about 40 minutes. A car, with no traffic, could do it in half the time, but when you add in finding a parking spot, the time difference is shaved down to almost nothing. And, honestly, how often is there no traffic?

In the style contest, the train wins hands down.

The ride eliminates the little annoyances of driving in bigcity traffic. You are free to read a book, talk, watch the scenery. And there is something about arriving in a city through a grand old train station that no car can match.

Union Station, built in 1894, is a monument to mass transit, with 8-foot chandeliers and 2,300 columbines carved into the grand arches of the main hall. Walking the broad corridors feels like gliding through the set of a black-and-white movie from the 1940s, on the way to something elegant and maybe a bit racy.

It's a far cry from circling for a spot at the strip mall.

Beyond the doors, Denver's hip LoDo neighborhood awaits.

The hard-working, blue-collar streets where writer Jack Kerouac scrounged for work have now been so thoroughly gentrified that glossy Range Rovers double park to pick up Fiffi from the doggy spa, and a 1,400 square-foot condo in the new Jack Kerouac Lofts goes for $275,000.

There's no better place in the region to shop. A few blocks east, the 16th Street Mall offers the standard retail options of any mall (Banana Republic, Nike, Ann Taylor) punctuated by Starbucks after Starbucks. The streets of LoDo, for now, are more eclectic. We elected to put off the shops until the afternoon in favor of some culture, and headed to the Denver Art Museum. A free bus running the length of the 16th Street Mall takes visitors within four blocks of the museum, but it was a nice day, so we opted for a 15-minute stroll instead.

At the top of the"must see" list was the Frederic C. Hamilton building, a newly completed, $110 million masterpiece that looks, from the right angle, like a titanium ship's prow crashing into the existing museum.

It doesn't disappoint. The angular four-story sculpture is as striking on the inside as it is from the street. The main atrium looks like a 120-foot-high work of origami. Each fold holds a different gallery: Japanese Zen landscapes, surrealist murals, contemporary American Indian pottery.

I could have spent all day at one installation, where projectors on the ceiling made Frisbee-size circles of light dance across a hallway. When museum-goers inadvertently stepped on the circles, the swatches of light exploded in quiet puffs. Once we figured this out, a group of kids and I had endless fun jumping on the circles and watching them disintegrate.

After leaving the museum, we headed back down to LoDo to meet friends at a local favorite, The Wazee Supper Club. The low-key, centrally located diner serves burgers, salads, sandwiches, and pizza consistently rated the best in Denver.

After a leisurely lunch, our friends noticed the time and sprinted back to put more money in their parking meter. It was nice, thanks to the train, to not always have that meter ticking in the back of my mind.

We wandered up the block to the Patagonia store.

LoDo is so awash with cash that it harbors stores you won't find in many other places, and these stores, if not necessarily affordable, are usually entertaining.

At Patagonia, next to the racks of $110 kids jackets and $300 men's ski pants is a stack of plain white T-shirts printed with the words "Live Simply." They're $25.

A few blocks away, Larimer Square, once Denver's skid row, is now drunk on commerce. Worth checking out is Cry Baby Ranch (1421 Larimer Square), a campy Western store stocked with bits of cowboy nostalgia from the 1940s and 1950s.

If you have a hankering for the real thing, mosey down the street to Rockmount Ranch Wear (1626 Wazee St.) where the snap-button cowboy shirt was invented and the first bolo tie was sold. If you're lucky, you'll run into Jack A. Weil, the founder, who works daily at age 105.

He wasn't in when we stopped by, but we still had a blast searching through the hundreds of ornate, stitched shirts that have gained favor with notables from Ronald Reagan to Robert Redford. Don't miss the little museum of historic shirts up the narrow stairs.

The one problem with downtown Denver is there's too much to do. We also wanted to swing by the massive R.E.I. flagship store and the anythingbut-massive bar next door — an old brick building with no sign called "My Brothers Bar" that may be the best bar in the state.

LoDo shines at night with dozens of bars and top-end restaurants. We'd been eyeing The Ninth Door, a small, dark bar specializing in classic Spanish tapas and wines.

But the sun was low and we had promises to keep back in Colorado Springs. We walked a few blocks back to the station, climbed on a train full of suburbanites headed home after a day downtown. We knew, like most of them, we'd be taking the train back soon.


One-way fare from Lincoln Avenue to downtown Denver: $2.75

Best place for visitors from Colorado Springs to get on:

Lincoln Avenue, I-25 exit 193. Turn west on the overpass, then north on the frontage road to a multi-story parking garage.

Places downtown it serves:

Invesco Field at Mile High, Six Flags Elitch Gardens, The Pepsi Center, Union Station (LoDo) and 16th Street Mall (downtown).

How to buy a ticket:

Use the stainless-steel ticket-vending machines at the station. You don't need to show your ticket to board the train, but keep it handy. Ticket inspectors may come through and ask to see that you've paid.

How to not waste time:

Trains leave at regular intervals. To make sure you arrive in time to catch your train, check the schedule online at south

4 a.m. to 2 a.m.. Trains are least frequent in off hours and most frequent during rush hour. Check the schedule at

This is just the beginning:

Mile High City voters approved a plan called Fastracks in 2004 that will add 119 miles of new light rail and commuter rail stretching from Golden and Boulder on the west to Denver International Airport on the east.


October 29, 2006 Sunday



Bright lights, big cities If you're on a fast turnover business trip, you will need to make the most of your time. Nick Dalton comes up with some ideal tips for top stopovers


by Nick Dalton



The sophisticated gateway to the West - even though it's on the plains, it's a mile high. Denver International airport is geographically the country's biggest and nearest to the continent's centre.


Where to stay

The Hyatt Regency is a 1,100-room tower packed with style, from the four-storey glass-walled atrium with the top-floor Peaks lounge and awesome views. Full of Wi-Fi zones - and room safes where you can charge your laptop. Or try the small, elegant Hotel Teatro, with discreet rooms for 12-strong board meetings.


Eating out

Tuck into a 33oz porterhouse in Elway's, a rich, modern steakhouse - you may even get to stand at the bar in the shadow of beefy owner John Elway, former Denver Broncos quarterback.


Best to impress

Head to El Chapultepec, an edgy dive bar and Mexican restaurant dating from 1933 that has jazz bands playing late into the night - colleagues will be amazed you know the place.


Chilling out

Denver Art Museum's new wing opened earlier this month. The jutting, titanium-covered edifice is the work of Daniel Libeskind, the man responsible for the rebirth of New York's Ground Zero. As jagged inside as out, a breathtaking backdrop to everything from Western art to Damien Hirst.

Don't miss

The skiing. An hour's drive will get you across the Continental Divide to Winter Park, one of Colorado's fastest-growing areas, for a great day out.



Cherry Creek has a huge, posh indoor mall and an even bigger collection of stylish stores in the Victorian streets around it, together claiming to be the biggest shopping area between San Francisco and Chicago.


Don't leave without

A Western shirt from Rockmount, purveyors of cowboy chic to the likes of Clapton and Springsteen.


Japan's premier fashion magazine LIGHTNING featured Rockmount during the summer, 2006. They came to Denver to do this feature story.


November 18, 2006


by STEPHEN BEAUMONT Special to The Globe and Mail
There are three things a city must have in order to be considered globally relevant these days: a thriving arts community, a vibrant restaurant scene and, particularly important of late, a cutting-edge building designed by a big-name architect.

Denver has long boasted the first two, thanks in no small part to its highly popular 0.1 per cent Scientific and Cultural Facilities District sales tax, which supports more than 300 cultural organizations to the tune of $43-million a year. And now it has the third. Visually transfixing and exceptionally planned, the Daniel Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum expansion opened on Oct. 7, and affords yet another excellent reason to visit the Mile High City.

What's coming up

Although not actually in the mountains, Denver is nevertheless near them, which means the city serves as an ideal gateway to some of the finest skiing and snowboarding in the United States. Just over an hour's drive away, for example, is the locally lauded cat-skiing of Berthoud Pass (, a system described by Tom Bie, editor of Powder Magazine, as the "poor man's heli-skiing," in which a tractor blazes the way to fresh powder.

If you would rather avoid the roads, board the nation's only Ski Train, which has been running from Denver's Union Station into ski country for more than 65 years ( The journey to Winter Park (, one of the state's largest resorts, doesn't get any easier or more beautiful.

All of Denver is talking about Libeskind's new Hamilton Building, the cornerstone of the museum district known as the Golden Triangle. With an interior almost as spectacular as its exterior, Libeskind's first completed project in the U.S. is both a complement and contrast to the Gio Ponti-designed North Building, which with it forms the largest art museum between Chicago and the West Coast.

For shopping, visitors tend to hit the 160-store Cherry Creek Mall ( But savvy travellers in search of authenticity head instead to Lower Downtown's Rockmount Ranch Wear (1626 Wazee St.; 303-629-7777), where the man who invented the snap-front shirt, 105-year-old Rockmount CEO Jack Weil, still mans his desk every morning, overseeing a massive stock of stylish western clothing.

Where to stay

Denver's most fashionable new address is the Hotel Teatro (1100 14th St.; 303-228-1100;, a centrally located, luxury boutique hotel built in the century-old Denver Tramway Building. Its 111 rooms and suites are built large, with 12-foot ceilings and broad bathrooms that accommodate both a rain-style shower and soaking tub. Unabashedly modern touches such as personal yoga mats complete the picture. Rates from $210 a night.

More of an Old World experience is on offer at the Brown Palace (321 17th St.; 303-297-3111;, Denver's most classically styled lodgings. Featuring a soaring, nine-storey atrium that has first-time visitors craning their necks upward in the Brown Palace is no less awe-inspiring in the decor, and comfort, of its 241 rooms and suites. There is Victorian or art deco styling and plenty of natural light in every room. Highly recommended is a visit to the hotel's new and extremely luxurious spa, especially after a rigorous day on the slopes, or in the shops. Rooms at the Palace are priced from $266 a night.

Where to eat and drink

Depending on where you are, dining in Denver can sometimes feel like trying to find a meal at the local mall, with seemingly every American chain restaurant represented somewhere in the city. But if you know where to look, Denver can also be uniquely delicious.

For dining updated, head to Steubens (523 East 17th St.; 303-830-1001), where the crab cakes are superlative and America's best comfort foods, from Memphis BBQ ribs to West Coast cioppino, make up the tasty and filling main course offerings. Or indulge your wilder side with a visit to the Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage St.; 303-534-9505) where you can start your meal with rattlesnake and finish with elk.

More familiar, if no more conventional, is the fancifully delicious fare at Table 6 (609 Corona St.; 303-831-8800), a homey boîte in the Capitol Hill District, which runs the gamut from "Buffalo" sweetbreads, prepared in the style of the famous chicken wings, to a "mac 'n' cheese" variation with spaetzle and foie gras. After dark

To get to the heart of Denver nightlife, you need know only two syllables: LoDo, or Lower Downtown. There, within numerous blocks of renovated warehouses, steps from both the Colorado Avalanche's Pepsi Center (1000 Chopper Pl.; 303-405-1100) and the Rockies' Coors Field (201 Blake St.; 303-292-0200), reside dozens of pubs and clubs.

For a taste of one of the best beer markets in the U.S., venture no farther than The Falling Rock Tap House (1919 Blake St.; 303-293-8338), an endearing if slightly frayed-at-the-edges bar where local favourites such as Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine are poured alongside draught and bottled exotica from Belgium, England and beyond.

If cocktails are more your thing, drop by the Oxford Hotel's Cruise Room (1600 17th St.; 303-628-5400), a crimson-hued, art-deco temple to the martini styled after a 1930s cruise ship lounge. Or, for a jazz experience unequalled in the Rocky Mountains, sidle on over to El Chapultepec (1962 Market St., 303-2959126), where even appearances by stars such as Wynton Marsalis don't rate a cover charge.



NOVEMBER 22, 2006

Penny Parker

PRINCE VINCE: Country superstar Vince Gill wandered over to Rockmount Ranch Wear, with Denver artist William Matthews,
to check out the Western-wear joint before his Tuesday Paramount concert.

Vince the Prince bought a 100 percent silk hand-painted shirt for his wife, singer Amy Grant. Frontier flyboy Andrew Hudson
happened to be shopping at Rockmount.

"Every time I see a big star like that, my first inclination is to ask them if they need a bass player," Hudson said.

"But I didn't do that."

EAVESDROPPING on two women talking about a mutual friend: "There's trouble in paradise; I think he's getting a divorce."

"That makes him potential husband material. You know, that emerging secondary market."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m.
Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail





Over the years, Rockmount Ranch Wear heir Steve Weil has gotten used to famous faces shopping in his LoDo store.
But he hadn't heard about The Who's Roger Daltrey supposedly shopping at Rockmount on Saturday.

"While at the after-party for the film festival Saturday night, a woman I don't know said she saw Roger Daltrey shopping at
a store on Wazee," Weil said. "I asked her, 'Which store?' She said 'Rockmount, where the 105-year-old man works.' "

Without identifying himself, Weil asked the woman what time Daltrey was in the store. "Noon," she said.

Weil recognized this case of mistaken identity because he had stopped by the store at noon with actor Robert Knott, in
Denver for the Joel Ehrlich tribute screening of his film, Human Error.

"I called Robert this morning to laugh about the confusion," Weil said. "He has been in many films, and many people
recognize him but don't know his name."

EAVESDROPPING on a man talking to a woman checking out another guy at The Men's Event: "He's got his own teeth -
what more do you want?"

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Call her at 303-954-5224 or e-mail .


Weil family goes "Around the Town" on Altitude

By Dick Kreck
Denver Post Staff Columnist

October 8, 2006

There's Jack A. Weil, dispensing priceless historical tidbits about Lower Downtown.

There's his grandson, Steve Weil, dispensing tips about marketing cowboy shirts.

Steve and his grandpa, 105, favorites on the local media circuit, are featured tonight on "Around the Town"
(6 and 10 p.m., Altitude Sports & Entertainment).

The two Weils and their Rockmount Ranch Wear outlet are the last wholesaler still operating in the neighborhood,
and Orin Levy, executive producer for "AT," thought they were the perfect way to tell people that there is life beyond saloons in LoDo.

"My main goal is places you can take your family," said Levy, who moved here 12 years ago from New York City and has two daughters.
"It's really a family-friendly show."

He was thrilled to meet the Weils, especially senior. "He really brought a lot of history and perspective to Lower Downtown."

Altitude also debuts "Denver's Road Home," a one-hour special on homelessness and the city's attempts to deal with it
(7 p.m. Wednesday). It includes interviews with Mayor Hick, who's made this a priority, and formerly homeless people.

Both shows are off the beaten path of Altitude's heavy sports coverage. But Jim Martin, Altitude's CEO, said, "We decided to get involved
(in the homeless issue) because it's always been part of our mandate to make this network a community asset."

Football talk, talk

Our moment in the spotlight.

Quotable: "I love Denver. You know what? I'm no longer a New Yorker." Orin Levy

Dick Kreck's column appears Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. He may be reached at 303-954-1456 or


The cover features Rockmount shadow plaid #793-Red.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2006
ROCKMOUNT ROCKS: Huey Lewis (sans the News) went to Rockmount Ranch Wear in LoDo on Saturday to shop, but needed
more time and came back Sunday.
He was shopping solo after performing for the Children's Hospital Gala at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Lewis bought a signature Rockmount
shirt in black with saddle stitching.
He promised a return trip to Rockmount when he comes back to Denver.

Larry Wignet, from A&E series "Big Spender" and author of "Its Called Work for A Reason" wearing Rockmount shirt #6728

July 11, 2006

Anschutz cowboy gift causes stir on both sides of Atlantic

Phil Anschutz at center of storm over meetings with British official.

By Joyzelle Davis, Rocky Mountain News

Phil Anschutz may be a billionaire several times over, but would he pay $20,000 for a Stetson cowboy hat, tooled leather boots and initialed silver belt buckle?

That's how much British tabloids said Qwest's founder spent on a cowboy outfit gift to Deputy U.K. Prime Minister John Prescott during his visit to Anschutz's Greeley-area ranch last summer.

That number was highly inflated. Anschutz actually paid $1,354 to buy Prescott a pair of jeans, a leather-bound notebook and spurs in addition to the belt, "off-the-rack" boots and Stetson, said Jim Monaghan, a spokesman for Anschutz.

The news of the presents, revealed by London's The Mail on Sunday, is the latest development in the weeklong hubbub following the disclosure of Prescott's previously unreported meetings with Anschutz. Anschutz's Millennium Dome entertainment project in London is among the contenders for a license for Britain's first Las Vegas-style casino.

While money is no object for the movie mogul, one Denver Western wear expert said Anschutz couldn't spend $20,000 - or the reported 11,000 pounds - on the cowboy accoutrements even if he tried.

"I think they put one too many zeros in that figure," said Steve Weil, owner of Denver Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. The company's trademarked Western shirts have been worn by Eric Clapton, Robert Redford and Anschutz's family.

Weil said high-end cowboy hats rarely cost more than $500, a top-of-the-line belt bejeweled buckle might run $1,500 and few boots kick through the $750 barrier.

And Anschutz, he said, "never buys at the top of the market."

Anschutz has cultivated a reputation of being modest with his money, at least for his rarefied income bracket, by wearing a Timex watch and driving an older car.

The gifts created a stir in Britain because under the ministerial code "no minister should accept gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation." Prescott has not registered the gifts yet.

This comes on top of the ongoing firestorm over Anschutz and Prescott's seven meetings from 2002 to 2005, which came to light this month.

Prescott has said he was right to meet repeatedly with Anschutz to discuss the Millennium Dome redevelopment project, which will create thousands of jobs and revive a desolate area. He said he has no authority over the gambling license, which will be awarded later this year and that they never discussed a casino.



105-year-old CEO honored with street name

Dan Viens Web Producer
Created: 3/28/2006 4:12 PM MST
America's Oldest CEO


Weil rode with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to the street renaming ceremony. Mar. 28, 2006.
Wazee became Jack A. Weil Way on a temporary basis. Mar. 28, 2006.

DENVER - The founder of one of the city's oldest clothing stores and America's oldest CEO got a special honor Tuesday.

Mayor John Hickenlooper renamed Wazee to "Jack Weil Way" in honor of Rockmount Ranchwear founder "Papa Jack" Weil.

"Papa Jack," as he's known, opened his store in 1946 and still works there today.

Celebrities like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Heath Ledger have all worn clothes from the warehouse.

"Papa Jack" celebrated his 105th birthday today.

To see the story 9NEWS did about Mr. Weil in December 2004 click here.

(Copyright by KUSA-TV, All Rights Reserved)

Jack Weil

Mar 28, 2006 6:15 pm US/Mountain
Denver Street Renamed For Country's Oldest CEO



A popular street in Lower Downtown Denver was renamed Tuesday to honor America's oldest living CEO and to celebrate his 105th birthday.

Jack A. Weil founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946 and has provided western wear to more than three generations.

Mayor John Hickenlooper, an entrepreneur himself, celebrated Weil's work ethic and perseverance.

As Weil and his family approached the celebration in a horse-drawn wagon, many onlookers sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

"Riding in a surrey is a very fitting way for my grandfather to come here on his 105th birthday," said Weil's grandson.

To honor Weil's life and work, Hickenlooper unveiled a new street sign for Jack A. Weil Way at 17th and Wazee.

"Not many cities get to boast that they have a 105-year old CEO who is still not just running a business, but turning a profit on that business day after day, week after week and year after year," Hickenlooper said.

The mayor also read a proclamation and declared March 28th Jack A. Weil Day in Denver.

"Whereas Denver is ceremoniously changing Wazee St. to Jack A. Weil Way and whereas the city and county of Denver wishes, in every way, Mr. Weil a very happy and healthy 105th birthday celebration," Hickenlooper said.

"Jack Weil sends out a message of what you can do if you are willing to work," Hickenlooper said. "He is a huge billboard for the American work ethic."

Weil was recently featured on the CBS Evening News and one of his shirts appeared in the hit movie Brokeback Mountain. Weil has a 76-year old son who also runs the business with him.
©MMVI CBS Television Stations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

k A. Weil, 105 years old, smiles in his office and shop in downtown Denver, Colorado April 7, 2006. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
At 105, oldest CEO sells Western wear to stars, Reuters News Agency world-wide, April 9, 2006
This syndicated article by Reuters News Agency began appearing Sunday April 9, 2006in newspapers world-wide. It could literally appearanywhere in the world where Reuters has client newspapers. It is also on news site

Jack A. Weil, 105 years old, smiles in his office and
shop in downtown Denver, Colorado April 7, 2006. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Jack A. Weil (L), 105 years old, checks invoices against incoming checks with the help of his
grandson Steve (C) in his office and shop in downtown Denver, Colorado April 7, 2006. The founder
of Rockmount Ranch Wear is the oldest and longest-serving CEO in the U.S.. His clothes have
become a mainstay for celebrities and politicians and his collection was worn in the movie
'Brokeback Mountain' with a shirt worn in the film selling recently for over $100,000 on eBay.
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

At 105, oldest CEO sells Western wear to stars

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - At 105 years old, Western wear maker Jack Weil may be the oldest CEO in America, but he's making new fans daily from cowboys to Hollywood.

Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable and Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan and Meg Ryan have donned Rockmount Ranch Wear, which also recently starred in the movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Weil says the reason he's outlasted his competitors is obvious.

"Because they're all in the cemetery," he deadpanned in a recent interview.

But Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Company, which he founded 60 years ago, is a style leader in his realm.

"Papa Jack", as he's known, was the first to use snaps rather than buttons on shirts, a revolution for the industry.

The diamond-shaped snaps and jagged "sawtooth" pocket designs that he created are the gold standard in Western shirts even today.

"It's the longest-running shirt design in America -- Western or otherwise," said Steve Weil, the third generation Weil to work at the family business.

Eric Clapton sported a Rockmount -- personally delivered by Steve Weil -- while performing at Cream's 2005 reunion concert in London's Royal Albert Hall.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal wore Rockmounts in last year's Academy Award nominated movie, "Brokeback Mountain."

Papa Jack regales customers and visitors with tales of the American West that he came to love when he moved to Denver in 1928. There were only 200,000 in the city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It was a "new world" for a young man, he said.

Weil's grandson, Steve Weil, says he is the undisputed oldest CEO in America. But the company founder puts in several hours a day at Rockmount's flagship store in Denver's historic district, pouring over bank deposit slips, checking credits and chatting with customers.


Jack A. Weil, 105 years old, checks invoices against incoming
checks in his office and shop in downtown Denver, Colorado April 7, 2006. The founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear is the oldest and longest-serving CEO in the U.S.

Each generation of the Weil family has added something to the business. Originally a wholesaler for haberdasheries in the western United States, Papa Jack's son, Jack B., began selling the Rockmount line to East Coast retailers in the mid-1950s.

"It was a natural progression to try and expand our market," said Jack B., who at age 77 shows no signs of slowing down either. Jack B. also began designing Rockmount shirts for women, which until that time were the same as men's except for fastening on the opposite side.

"Women wanted something more feminine," he said.

The company, which employs some 100 people, now sells through some 1,500 stores worldwide, and offers Western apparel for men and women including shirts, bolo ties, scarves, hats, belts and more.

Grandson Steve has expanded the company's international business and opened a company Web site, Two years ago, he persuaded his elders to selling retail from their flagship store.

Steve Weil is quick to point out that Rockmount doesn't solicit celebrities to wear their clothes; it's the other way around. He said the company wouldn't give away its shirts for the popular Academy Award gift bags handed out to A-list Oscar attendees.

"I offered to give them a good price on them, though, " he said.

Pausing from work, his grandfather mused that he struck it rich by picking a business that everyone could love.

"I guess I was just lucky that every kid wants to be a cowboy," he said.


Denver & the West
Clothes made the man
The Western look owes a lot to the vision of Jack A. Weil during his 105 years


By Elizabeth Aguilera
Denver Post Staff Writer

Jack A. Weil's roots run deep.

He was born in 1901, the year Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a glider at Kitty Hawk, N.C. It was the same year Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed a train of $40,000 in Montana and construction began on the New York Stock Exchange.

Weil has seen a lot of history, and as he turned 105 on Tuesday, he's made a lot of history too.

The founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear is the oldest and longest-serving CEO in the country. He celebrated his birthday by riding a horse-drawn surrey with three generations of Weils and Mayor John Hickenlooper, who presented Weil with a proclamation extolling his contributions and unveiled an honorary "Jack A. Weil Way" street sign.

"This is quite a thing for a country boy from Indiana," Weil said.

His family and close friends call him Papa Jack.

"It's amazing to celebrate his 105 years. He's still the CEO of his company and makes decisions," Hickenlooper said. "He's not just a pretty face. ...

"He's a beacon for everything this country stands for."

Weil never imagined that the clothing line he began in 1946 would become an A-list design for celebrities and politicians. Johnny Cash. Eric Clapton. Elvis Presley. George Bush. Heath Ledger.

Two signature shirts from Rockmount's collection were worn in the movie "Brokeback Mountain" and sold on eBay recently for $101,100.51. The money went to charity.

"Only in this country," Weil said.

His 1946 design of the sawtooth pocket and diamond signature snap is the longest-running shirt design in America.

"We are stubborn, and we've reinvented our business in LoDo," said grandson Steve Weil, who is vice president.

The family added retail to the business several years ago and expanded its distribution.

Initially, Rockmount focused only on Western states, but the company grew as each new generation began to work alongside Jack Weil. Jack B., his son, expanded the company to the East Coast. Eventually, Rockmount went worldwide when Steve Weil joined the company in 1981.

The company generated Jack Weil's wealth, but his goodwill created a network of close friends.

In 1969, Weil gave Kay Iversen credit to open an Evergreen store, Rockin' I Western Store.

"He gave me $500 credit for 30 days, and I couldn't sleep all night thinking about how I was going to pay it back," she said. "He's been a great blessing to many people."

Wearing a blue cardigan sweater and red and blue plaid shirt Tuesday, Weil was humble and approachable in his white Resistol cowboy hat.

He works at the store daily, for about four hours, and is quick to greet customers. "Where you from?" he asks.

"He just genuinely likes people; he hangs on every moment," said Marvin Parson, who has worked with Weil for 15 years.

Weil recalls events from more than 70 years ago, and his recognition of others is flawless. His wit showed Tuesday as he touched the elbow of a woman nearby and joked, "Where were all the young ladies before?" His wife Beatrice died in 1990.

The family business continues to expand with the flagship store on Wazee Street and the popularity of Western wear. But it's Weil's personality and hard-working manner that created such a close-knit family.

It helped that his closet, stocked with Rockmount shirts from the 1940s, was a gold mine for grandson Steve during high school in the '70s.

"I fell in love with the early designs back then," Steve Weil said. "My grandfather has been the family hero his entire life. He's a storyteller like Mark Twain. He's history alive."

Staff writer Elizabeth Aguilera can be reached at 303-820-1372 or

The festivities included the ceremonial renaming of a street after Weil, as shown in the sign here.


March 29, 2006
By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News
Clothier, 105, still going strong
Rockmount's Weil, who outfits the stars, celebrates birthday

Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, sits in the back of a horse-drawn carriage Tuesday, during a celebration of his 105th birthday in downtown Denver. Mayor John Hickenlooper renamed Wazee Street "Jack A. Weil Way" for the day.
Jack A. Weilcelebrated his 105th birthday Tuesday the way he celebrates just about every other business day, heading down to Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co., which has been in business at the same location, 1626 Wazee St. in Denver, since 1946.

But it wasn't just another day at the shop, what with Mayor John Hickenlooper and a passel of dignitaries, friends and just plain folks on hand for the festivities.

Hizzoner read a proclamation honoring America's oldest active CEO and renamed Wazee "Jack A. Weil Way" for the day.

There was plenty of cake, sandwiches and other refreshments for everyone.

Even the sun shined warmly for the occasion.

Fellow living legends, including Bruce Springsteen, Robert Redford, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, have all worn Weil's trademarked western shirts with snaps over the years.

Weil, who came to Denver in 1928, doesn't go to motion pictures anymore.

So he hasn't seen Brokeback Mountain, the big-buzz movie of 2005 about a couple of Wyoming cowboys and their star-crossed love affair, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

But the plaid shirt with diamond snaps and sawtooth pockets Ledger sports through much of the film? Rockmount style 69-39, for the record.

The stonewashed blue denim favored by Gyllenhaal? Also from Rockmount.

"I guess we're survivors in this business," was all the birthday boy would say when the movie was mentioned.

His grandson, Rockmount vice president Steve Weil, attended the movie's premiere, and said the film's costuming director had contacted him in advance to find out if he'd be comfortable with the characters sporting his wares.

"When I heard Ang Lee, Larry McMurtry, Heath Ledger, that's all I needed to know," said Steve Weil. "Whether it's everyone's cup of tea or not, this is art."

Between posing with his many well-wishers and endless snapping of pictures, Tuesday's honoree showed his head hasn't outgrown the Resistol hat that sat squarely on his head throughout the proceedings.

"Don't you think this is quite a thing for a country boy from Indiana?" he softly said, as he was assisted by Hickenlooper and his grandson toward an awaiting horse and carriage for a ceremonial ride down "his" street.

Weil was asked for his tips to longevity in business.

One was, "I made a rule that I wouldn't sell anyone over $5,000 (in merchandise) at a time, so they wouldn't own me. If I lost 'em, I wouldn't be out of business," he said.

According to his grandson, Weil's been hospitalized only a couple of times in his life, so there's clearly more to it than that.

There is, Weil admitted.

"I thank the Lord," he said.

or 303-892-2742

St. Petersburg Times

Famous Before the Movie


March 28, 2006

DENVER - Walk into Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co. any weekday morning and you'll likely find a living legend behind the second desk on your left, papers scattered atop the battered wooden surface and a computer in front of him, an electric typewriter behind.

Jack A. Weil - who turns 105 today - will be wearing a bolo tie and one of his company's signature Western shirts. Weil, who founded Rockmount in 1946, is said to have introduced the first Western shirts with snap buttons - they could break away if the shirt got caught during ranch chores - and also to have made the first commercially produced bolo ties.

His signature shirt is said to have been favored by movie stars from Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan to Tom Hanks and James Caan, and by singers from Elvis Presley and Alan Jackson to Don Henley and Bruce Springsteen. But the shirt was designed for hardworking cowhands and mechanics, and one of the shirts is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

A $55 Rockmount shirt featured in the Hollywood hit Brokeback Mountain recently sold on eBay for an amazing $101,100 in a charity promotion.

Manufactured in the United States, the shirts are sold internationally; the company Web site includes a catalog of the apparel line as well as photos of celebrity clients in their Rockmounts.

Believed to be the oldest working CEO in America, if not the world, "Papa Jack" Weil is more than some prop like the other Western paraphernalia in the downtown Denver store and in its museum.

For instance, grandson Steve Weil, 48, a vice president of the company along with his father, Jack B. Weil, still turns to "Papa Jack" for advice.

"He is a pragmatist in the extreme," Steve Weil says of his grandfather. "There is nobody better I can go to for (answers to) the hard questions. He brings integrity and consistent ethics that are sadly lacking elsewhere."

Steve Weil says his grandfather brought computers to the company - way back in the 1960s - and has been a part of every technological change since. "He is Windows-literate," he adds, referring to the computer operating system.

Asked if he uses the computer at his desk, Papa Jack, blue eyes peering through wire-rimmed glasses, answers, "What the hell would I do without it?"
Later he shows his quick wit when a customer asks, "How do you feel today?"

"With my fingers," responds Papa Jack.

Weil's wife, Beatrice, to whom he was married 64 years, died in 1990 at age 89. She always said she felt as if Rockmount Ranch Wear was her husband's mistress, Steve Weil recalls. And who could blame her? Papa Jack is a workaholic who was putting in eight- to 10-hour days up until his 90s.

He has gradually reduced his workweek but still puts in long days.

Papa Jack drove an automobile until recently. Now, the nurse who fixes his dinner and stays overnight in his home drives Papa Jack to the office every morning.

It is obvious that a large part of Papa Jack's purpose in life is helping to run Rockmount Ranch Wear.

"People ask me, Why the hell are you working? Well, you have to have something to do," he said, before excusing himself to take a call on line 3.

Retired Denver Post travel editor Mim Swartz lives in Golden, Colo.


March 10, 2006

Wazee becomes the street so nice they named it . . . thrice?

Jack A. Weil

Penny Parker

On Thursday Mayor John Hickenlooper changed the name of Wazee Street to Tooley Street, in accordance with local St. Patrick's Day tradition, to honor Irish-American and popular former Denver District Attorney Dale Tooley.

At the end of the month, look for the street sign on the corner of Tooley and 17th Street to change yet again - this time to Weil Way - in honor of Rockmount Ranchwear founder Jack A. Weil, who is among the oldest - if not the oldest - living Coloradans.

He turns 105 on March 28. Hick mentioned the sign switch to Jack A. during the post sign-change VIP lunch at McCormick's. I asked Jack A. the obvious question: To what did he attribute his longevity? "Just lucky, I guess," he said, shrugging in his natty-looking Rockmount plaid snap-front shirt.

Jack A., flanked by his son, Jack B., and grandson, Steve, still reports for work every weekday for at least four hours, Steve said.

In honor of the patriarch's b-day, Rockmount has created a Papa Jack's 105 Broncs silk tie, which goes on sale for $30 in roughly two weeks. "It's a signature bronc design that he introduced in the '40s and I reinterpreted with various brands as a motif in the background," Steve said. The Papa Jack's 105 T-shirt, with the bronc logo, is available now for $17.50 at the retail store, 1626 Wazee.

Speaking of shirts, Rockmount has been basking in its newfound fame ever since the costume designer for Brokeback Mountain used several of the signature snap shirts in the movie. The film's pivotal tan shirt sold on eBay for $101,000 and change recently, with proceeds going to charity.

With five of those shirts left and tons of people asking for them, Steve opted to put the remaining ones on eBay with a starting price of $75. You can bid on them through Wednesday.

EAVESDROPPING on a man at the Celebrity Bowl-a-Thon: "I broke a nail and it hurts."
Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail

Fashion Goes West
March 9, 2006

Kimberley French

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain"wearing Rockmount shirts.

How to Carry Off the Long, Lean Look
March 9, 2006
THERE is nothing wrong with letting your inner cowboy roam: Western wear has always been sold to guys who can't tell a hobble from a honda. Still, most men don't want to look like an extra in the "Westworld" remake or, as an old Western saying goes, "all dressed up like a sore wrist."

For many men the belt buckle is a good place to start, and stop. This season's Dsquared collection has several standouts, but they aren't subtle, and they don't come cheap. Montana Silversmiths makes a huge selection and does custom work ( The buckle should be no more than three and a half inches wide. Bigger gets cartoonish.

The classic Western shirt, with its long, lean silhouette and snap closures, is a safe bet: it flatters a trim physique while suggesting that its wearer is above such vain concerns. Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren's RRL line and Calvin Klein all offer trimly tailored Western-style shirts this season, with more to come for fall.

Rockmount Ranch Wear ( sells more than 100 shirt styles, many classic. Look for the slim-fit shirts in faded plaid in the new vintage style collection — very "Brokeback," minus the tragedy. (While you are at it, you might check out Rockmount's weathered studded belts.

Boots get a little trickier. You can go for a classic pair from Justin or Lucchese with a pointed toe (which — cough, cough — you may still have in your closet). You can trade up and get a custom pair from the renowned bootmaker Paul Bond in Nogales, Ariz., or downshift and go for a version with a non-Western heel by a company like Frye. If you're more finicky, Dior Homme and Dsquared make citified takes of the classic and will silence fashion snobs faster than a Colt .45.

Then there are the jeans. Low-rise is all well and good, but it is not Western. If you want to look rodeo real, only Wrangler will do. (Aspiring bronc riders are in luck: Rockmount brought back colored shirts with fringe last year.) But for ranch-hand realness, it's Levi's or nothing.

on the hat: Don't.

by Penny Parker

WEIL HE WAS AWAY: Steve Weil, the Rockmount Ranchwear heir who spent Monday at a Las Vegas trade show, found out that the signature snappy Western shirt made famous in the movie Brokeback Mountain went for a cool $101,000 and change during an eBay auction that ended Monday. Yeehaw! (That hunk-a-chunk of change went to charity.)

"We always placed a high value on our shirts, but we didn't know anyone else did," Weil said.

The high bidder was Tom Gregory, a Los Angeles man who collects signed celebrity photos from Hollywood's golden age and lives in Gary Cooper's old house. The longtime gay activist told The Associated Press the shirts represent the ongoing plight of gays for acceptance. "They really are the ruby slippers of our time," said Gregory, 45.

February 23, 2006

The shirts off "Brokeback" rope $101,000
The shirts worn by Jack Twist in "Brokeback Mountain" that were up for charity auction sold Monday on eBay for a mind-spinning $101,100.51.

In real life, they cost about $55 each.

The plaid, tan, blood-stained shirt, one of the two Twist wore, played a big part at the end of the story, and it was made and sold by Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver. All the money went to Variety, the Children's Charity of Southern California.

Variety is a show-biz charity that helps troubled, neglected, abused and addicted kids in California. It has raised money for a few years through eBay auctions of movie memorabilia. But nothing like this. Sometimes it's $1,000 for tix to a movie premiere and a party with the stars. Before the shirts, the biggest money maker was $24,002 paid for the VW bug in "Herbie: Fully Loaded." It would have raised more if "Herbie" star Lindsay Lohan were in it.

"Even before the movie was such a big hit, we asked (Focus Features) for memorabilia," says Variety exec-director Maria Schmidt. "Next thing we knew we had the icon. We had no idea it would raise $100,000. Not in our wildest dreams."

The shirts went to winning bidder Tom Gregory - actor, philanthropist and memorabilia collector who lives in Gary Cooper's old house. "It's the ultimate prop from an extraordinary film," he said in a release.

February 19, 2006
Movie makes Rockmount's shirts très hot
Keep your shirt on.

Steve Weil at Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver is happy that "Brokeback Mountain" is "like a catalog for our shirts," he says. But he never expected two of the duds to sell for more than $55,000.

The shirts worn by Jake Gyllenhaal play a pivotal part in the cowboy romance, especially at the end of the flick. They're now up for bids on eBay (#7589737258) and at press time they were going for $55,300. The bidding ends Monday, so it could go a lot higher. Or you can go to Rockmount in LoDo and buy one for $55.

All proceeds from the sale go to Variety, a showbiz charity for children.

"It's incredible," says Weil.

Sunday Style Jan. 15, 2006
Western wear on way to classic status

By Suzanne S. Brown Denver Post Staff Writer

Cowboy couture is riding a wave of popularity, but for every guy who loves his Lucchese boots and every gal who treasures her concha belt, there are a dozen more who wouldn't be caught dead in Western wear.
And the opposing camps are clearly visible when the National Western Stock Show is in town.
Those on the anti-Western side of the corral likely remember the cheesy polyester shirts and trophy buckle belts that stampeded into stores after "Urban Cowboy" hit movie theaters in 1980. Or they associate the clothing with a rural lifestyle at odds with their city sensibilities.
It's also generational. Older baby boomers grew up watching such TV shows as "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza," wearing holsters and toting toy guns.
Then they raised their children on "Star Wars" movies and Nintendo games, and - surprise - the new kids don't share their parents' nostalgia for chaps, spurs and the Wild West.
Fans of Western wear fall into a few categories, chief among them people who just live and love the Western lifestyle, whether they wear their jeans and snap shirt daily on the farm, ranch or rodeo circuit; or save them for stock show week, the dance floor of the Grizzly Rose or trips to the mountains.
The truth is that there are many facets to Western wear. "It means a lot of different things to different people," says Daniel DeWeese, editor of Western Lifestyle Retailer magazine. A New Yorker might look at a Colorado cowboy, rancher or rodeo princess' attire as a costume, "but it's never a costume to the core market," he says.
The Western market is getting a boost from such sources as, which dubs one of the top trends this season "New Frontier." And this month's Harper's Bazaar has a "Best Western" layout of items that promise to "kick-start your wardrobe." All proof, DeWeese says, "that Western wear is having a huge influence on mainstream fashion."
Popular culture continues to play a role too. The straw cowgirl hat Julia Roberts wore in "Runaway Bride" has been hot ever since the movie came out in 1999, and Madonna's sparkly rodeo queen hats and clothes in her 2000 "Music" album and videos had an impact too.
"Western wear has been a hip thing among models, TV and movie stars," and that filters down, DeWeese says.
"It will start with celebrities and boutiques on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, then everyone else follows them," says Steve Weil, vice president of Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver. "A year later, it works down to the Wal-Mart in Texarkana." Rockmount recently supplied more than a dozen of its signature snap-front shirts to rock guitarist and composer Eric Clapton. The musician told Weil he was a fan of authentic Western wear but didn't know where to get it until he found a Rockmount shirt in an English boutique.
Clapton joins Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and even Elvis Presley as having worn Rockmount shirts. Western wear appeals to musicians because "there's a creative individuality to it, an edginess," Weil says. "It's a rejection of conventional fashion, the boring mainstream."
Rockmount shirts also are worn by the actors who portray gay cowboy lovers in "Brokeback Mountain," now in movie theaters. Was Weil concerned about the subject matter being too edgy? "We realize this is not everybody's cup of tea, but the real issue is that the movie is a work of art, and we love being associated with Annie Proulx, Ang Lee and Larry McMurtry," he says.
While companies such as Rockmount specialize in Western wear, few top American designers on Seventh Avenue regularly use Western motifs. Ralph Lauren is among the few to have done collections inspired by the West.
Rather it's the Europeans who tend to showcase it. The trendy label Dsquared paraded male models in ultra-low rise jeans, leather vests and string ties at its spring 2006 show in Milan, Italy. Female models wore calico and denim dresses, waist-cinching leather cummerbunds, embroidered suede jackets.
"The Europeans view (Western wear) from a distance that we can't," says Tyler Thoreson, executive editor at, the website for GQ and Details magazines. "They're an ocean away and can look at American iconography and just go with it. We're too close to it to have that much fun with it."
But that's OK, because in America, Western is becoming a classic, Weil says. "It has earned a credibility and doesn't necessarily cycle in and out of fashion as it did in the past," he says.
"Parts of Western are staple and just as much in fashion this season as the next, whether it's a hat or boots or a belt. It's a firm part of the fashion scene and will remain so for the long haul."
Love it or loathe it, Western is here to stay.
Staff writer Suzanne S. Brown can be reached at 303-820-1697 or

January 8, 2006
Colorado Sunday
Instant expert: Stock tips
By Leslie Lyon
Denver Post Staff Writer
Are you a city slicker who calls all cattle cows? Do you7 know the difference between a Beefalo and a buffalo? How come we say "Got Milk?" of some breeds and "It's What's for Dinner" about others? Post staff writer Leslie Lyon rustles up some tips to help you wrangle stock-show lingo like an old hand.

At the National Western, it's all about the lifestyle build around ranching and raising livestock. Let's presume all of us - even greenhorns - know what a cow, calf and bull are, but there are still some big questions that come up about the cowboy life.

Why do cowboy boot heels come in different shapes?

There are as many styles of boots as cars, and they all have their fans, says Steve Weil, a third-generation Western wear designer at Rockmount Western Wear. "Buckaroos in the Northwest wear a different style from those in Texas. My advice is to go with the classic: the semi-pointed tow with a standard-shaped heel, about 2 inches high."

What is the ideal hat?

Every (cowboy) has a different answer," says Weil, whose now 104-year-old grandfather started Rockmount in 1946. "My favorite quote about hats is, 'Never wear a hat that has more character than you have.' "

There are a few seasonal guidelines to follow - felt for winter, straw for summer or fashion. After that, the shape of your hat depends on the shape of your face. At Shepler's, a fitter steams the brim to create a flattering shape. Personal preference determines whether the brim is up or down and how wide it is, and how the crown is shaped, Painter says.

Accessorizing doesn't stop with the hat, and lately even the most rural cowboys and girls are dipping into the bling. "On the belts, ladies' boots, jeans, there is lots of bling, like rhinestones," Painter says. "Matching belts, shirts and boots have lots of bling."

Rockmount, a longtime Denver clothier credited with creating Western shirts with snaps instead of buttons, today carries 100 styles, from the conservative to the wildly flamboyant.

What about that other classic cowboy accessory, the spur?

Weil has a favorite quote for that, too: "No self-respecting cowboy wears spurs off a horse. You'll never see them wearing them around town. (Spurs) are a tool only used while riding or for hanging on the wall."

They're very collectible, he says, much like old cattle brands.


olorado Sunday
Out here: Rodeo style

Stock Show 100th Anniversary Tie

Rockmount Ranch Wear,
1626 Wazee St., Denver

It takes a village of old-timers to properly celebrate an anniversary the magnitude of the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show's centennial.

Third-generation Western-wear designer Steve Weil partnered with fifth-generation rancher and artist Duke Beardsley to create a bold red silk tie to toast the big rodeo.

Just 200 were made, and they are sure to be snapped at Rockmount's LoDo shop and at the National Western's logo booth. If you miss the $30 deal, you still can see Beardsley's original painting at the Coors Art Show this week.

January 6, 2006

Cowboys, cowgirls and spectators owe the shirts off their backs to a Denver designer and John Travolta.
By George Merritt, Denver Post Staff Writer

Steve Weil sits inside Rockmount Ranch Wear, the clothing manufacturer and store on Wazee Street that his grandfather Jack opened several decades ago.

These days, the cowboy get-up is an icon of Americana. It's apple pie, cheeseburgers and blue jeans.

But as the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo looks back on 100 years, it's apparent that it wasn't always like that.

Oddly enough, we may all have John Travolta and one of Denver's native sons to thank for our cowboy - and cowgirl - chic.

"The original Western wear was very much the clothing of the time," said Keith Schrum, curator of "A Woman's Place ... Is on the Range," a cowgirls exhibit at the Colorado History Museum. "In the 1890s," he said, "people wore pretty much the same styles as what was worn in the East."

Schrum said his exhibit was inspired primarily by one picture from 1894 in the San Louis Valley. In the scene, three women in long Victorian skirts are branding a calf. Another image shows a woman attempting to break a bucking horse. "The most important thing about this picture is that you can't see her legs," Schrum said. "She's breaking this horse sidesaddle."

But Schrum said as the decades passed, Western fashion for men and women went from practical to the more exaggerated. Snaps - long popular because they could easily break free and prevent tears when working with livestock - got shinier. Boot stitching - originally sewn in for support - got flashier. And the broad- brimmed hat became a personal statement.

"Hollywood and tourism really capitalized on the image of the cowboy around the 1940s," Schrum said. "It was this whole idea of Manifest Destiny. People started to look back at how the country was settled and the role of cowboys. ... They became heroes."

Right about that time, Jack A. Weil opened a clothing manufacturing store on Wazee Street in downtown Denver and set out to make the quintessential cowboy shirt.

"Cowboys weren't going to wear it if there wasn't function to it, but it was an appeal to the flashy," said Steve Weil, Jack's grandson, in the same storefront where Rockmount Ranch Wear began. "You wore it when you went to town or to the rodeo. It was a dress-up shirt."

His grandfather brought the broad yokes on the shoulders and "sawtooth" flap pockets that are now the calling cards of the Western shirt.

For decades, the style stayed primarily in the Rocky Mountain West until Travolta jumped on a mechanical bull in the 1980 movie "Urban Cowboy."

"That movie really made the Western shirt a mass-market product," said Weil, who released the book "Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion" last year and designed the National Western's 100th-anniversary commemorative tie. "We had been popular with cowboys and rock stars for a long time, but we did not get in everyone's closet until 'Urban Cowboy."'

Today, dressing the part plays a big role in the stock show.

"Rodeo is the only sport where the spectators are dressed exactly like the athletes," said National Western spokeswoman Kati Anderson. "It's part of what makes it unique. How you wear the brim of your hat or the style of jeans says a lot about who you are."

Staff writer George Merritt can be reached at 720-929-0893 or

THE GAZETTE, Colorado Springs, CO
January 06, 2006

Rockmount Ranch Wear, at 1626 Wazee St. in Denver’s LoDo district, is a bastion of Western garb, including shirts, hats, boots and belts. The company has been in the retail business for only three years. Before that, people would ignore the “wholesale only” sign and come in to buy merchandise.

Team GO! scoots north with boots in tow Western-wear Mecca on Wazee

And you thought the urban cowboy died with John Travolta’s early movie career. Think again, buckeroos and buckerettes. As Denver kicks up its spurs for the National Western Stock Show, Team GO! guides you toward the best in cowboy fun — from the hot place to two-step to the most distinguished Western wear store this side of the Mississippi (and, hey, you know you won’t find nothin’ on the other side.)

DENVER - “You talk about the vanishing West, we’re it,” Steven Weil says, standing amidst the racks of Western shirts adorned with swirls, horseshoes and poker dice.

Weil’s family business, Rockmount Ranch Wear at 1626 Wazee St. in Denver’s LoDo district, is a bastion of Western garb and a reminder of the trendy neighborhood’s downscale wholesale past.

“There used to be a whole neighborhood of businesses like ours,” Weil says, “then there were three, then two and soon there will be one.”

Far from being an anomaly, however, Rockmount fits in nicely with Wazee’s rows of pricey boutiques and upscale bars. Its signature snap-button shirts remain as popular with urban night crawlers as they are with the rodeo set.

As Jack B. Weil, Steven Weil’s father and son of founder and CEO Jack A. Weil, says, “We sell to a lot of real cowboys, and we sell to a lot of wannabes. Thank God for the wannabes.”

There’s nothing ersatz about Rockmount, though. At 104 years old, Jack A. Weil still comes to work every day, sitting behind the counter in one of the company’s shirts and a bola tie — another fashion innovation he pioneered.

“How the hell can I retire when my dad’s still working?” Jack B. Weil jokes.

Upstairs is a miniature museum of past and present designs — Rockmount’s “640” shirt with sawtooth pockets and diamond snaps has been in production for more than 50 years. In the back is a collection of saddles Steven Weil has put together. The customers are as likely to be genuine ranchers visiting the city as they are hipsters who live here.

Despite its decades of history — Rockmount has owned the building on Wazee since 1946 — the company has been in the retail business for three years. Before, the Wazee building was just a warehouse and offices. People would ignore the “wholesale only” sign on the door and come in looking for Western wear. So the Weils decided to open things up and let people buy shirts, belts and boots.

Rockmount isn’t just a little family business. The shirts can cost up to $90 each, and they’re popular all over the world. Steven Weil — who wrote the book on Western shirts, “Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion” — tells of hand-delivering some shirts to rock legend Eric Clapton in England only to be interrupted by a call from Sweden.

“It’s more than just buying a shirt,” he says. “It’s about entertaining.”

As featured in 5280 Magazine, classic Rockmount Chenille embroidered shirt for men and women. 100% cotton gabadine twill year around fabric weight. Imported. $85.

bulletMen's #6719-Ivory Sm - XXL

bulletWomen's #7719-Ivory Sm - XL

Super singer Bonnie Raitt celebrated her 56th birthday Tuesday night with a sold-out performance at the Fillmore Auditorium. One concert-goer described the evening as "a love fest between her and the audience," but the crew took "love fest" to a new meaning. During the fourth song, the gang came on stage wearing white boxer shorts, with each (clothed) rear end bearing (not baring) a letter that spelled out "happy birthday." Raitt's love-in continued with kudos for the Fillmore. "I love these chandeliers," she said. "I wish I could redo my bedroom with one of them." She spread the love to Fillmore music man Chuck Morris. "I wonder if Chuck would give me one of them as a present? Do you realize I have worked with Chuck for over 30 years?" She ended the concert with a promise to return to Red Rocks in the summer.

IT RATES WITH RAITT: Rockmount Ranch Wear heir Steve Weil had his cake and ate it too after the rockin' Raitt concert.

The wily Weil wrangled an invite to the post-concert backstage birthday party from James "Hutch" Hutchinson, the band's bass guitarist, who spent a bundle on a bundle of shirts at the LoDo western wear shop. When Weil learned it was Raitt's birthday, he sent the singer a pink "girlie T-shirt" with a Rockmount logo designed by Jack A. Weil in the '40s. Raitt was fighting a cold so she skipped the shopping trip. "Hutch called and said she really liked it and she wanted to meet us after the show," said Weil who was treated to VIP seats by the band. "They were so nice to us, I was very touched."


Bonnie Raitt meets Steve and Wendy Weil. James "Hutch" Hutchinson, her bass guitarist for over 20 years is wearing Rockmount teal plaid #6930. Hutch has many Rockmount shirts which he wears both on and off the stage. He appears in more than 500 alblums and has worked with Willy Nelson, Willy Nelson, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, David Crosby, Delber McClinton, Kathy Mattea and many more.

Nov. 4, 2005
Top Western Wear

1626 Wazee St., 303-629-7777

When you shop Rockmount Ranch Wear, you’re shopping a Colorado institution. Founded in 1946, Rockmount is the oldest maker of Western shirts made in the U.S. This three-generation, family-owned business designed the first Western snap shirt, which today is the longest running shirt design in America. The first shirt retailed for $2.95; today’s snap styles range from $50 to $100 in more than 100 styles.

The "gay caballeros" wer
e not spotted standing together at the Western Fantasy Gala, but both heard it through the grapevine that they had committed the fashion faux pas. "The saleswoman said, 'You've got a lot of confidence to wear that shirt,' " Hudson admitted. (I wonder why he didn't take off his jacket all night?)

"Did your wife approve of that shirt?"
I asked White. "You don't see her here tonight, do you?" he said, laughing.

Country crooner Lee Greenwood
was saved by a saxophone during rehearsal for Western Fantasy Saturday, where Greenwood was this year's headliner. "There was a gap in the stage and the sax caught his fall," said event founder Sharon Magness Blake, dressed in a lacy burgundy "Miss Kitty" gown. "He's bruised; the sax is crushed."

If Greenwood was in a world of hurt, no one could tell from the way he danced and jumped up and down during his set at the National Western Events Center. Greenwood, who in the past has performed his hit God Bless the USA as Magness Blake rides Thunder into the arena (this year was new Thunder's Western Fantasy debut), had never headlined the show.

To be honest, I wasn't exactly galloping to the event to see Greenwood, who many consider a one-hit wonder. But bust my buttons, he was marvelous singing both original and cover songs in a performance that was a real people pleaser. The event raised $1 million for Volunteers of America. Magness Blake is working on landing an even bigger country star for next year. I'll let you know as soon as the ink is dry on the contract.

EAVESDROPPING on a woman, speaking to a man who took off his cowboy boots at Western Fantasy: "You changed your shoes." "My heels were killing me."
Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail


Meet Andre McClain, singing/gentleman cowboy, trick roper, rodeo cowboy, ringmaster, horse & camel trainer. Andre paid us a call while the circus was in town and we enjoyed meeting this tallented 3rd generation horseman and entainer. Under that great Nudi style suit is a Rockmount vintage embroidery #6706-Blk/Red.

Sept 2005 Gentleman's Quarterly

New York Times Review of Books "WESTERN SHIRTS" Sept. 4, 2005

September 29, 2005

NORM: Shirt style strikes chord with Clapton

Rocker Eric Clapton is collaborating on another cultural icon: the Western shirt.

His co-design will be unveiled this week at the MAGIC clothing expo by Rockmount Ranch Wear of Denver. The venture got its start unexpectedly in May when Clapton sent an e-mail to Rockmount boss Steve Weil.

"I love your shirts and I've been buying them while touring the states," wrote Clapton, adding that he wanted more of them for the Cream reunion, less than a week away. He added his phone number in case Weir thought the e-mail was bogus.

Weil responded and shipped the initial order, then another order. But when he realized that neither order might get to London in time, he contacted Clapton and offered to hand-deliver the shirts.

Clapton was so pleased that he said he'd make sure Weil got to the Cream reunion "if I have to drive you in the trunk of my car."

When Weil showed up at Royal Albert Hall, he and a friend were handed tickets and backstage passes. Afterward, they were escorted to the green room, where a small group of maybe 10 had joined Clapton. Among them: ex-Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, former Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman and actor Tom Hanks.

The meeting led to the co-designing venture on the shirt, which features a guitar and lyrics from "Back Home," from Clapton's first album in five years.

An amazing experience got even better Sunday when Weil drove down the Strip to Mandalay Bay and saw his name on the marquee for his book signing Tuesday.

He'll be signing "Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion" at 7 p.m. at The Mandalay Bay Reading Room.

Las Vegas Book Signing at Mandalay Bay Aug 30, 2005

North by NorthEast………….Allen Wicken, PT, MS… June 16, 2005

A Conversation with a 104 year-old Icon of the American West

“You folks being looked after?” said the small, kindly shopkeeper approaching us as we sifted through a rack full of amazingly colorful and ornate western-style shirts. Thus began what would become an immensely enjoyable hour- long conversation I had last week with Mr. Jack A. Weil in downtown Denver, Colorado. Little did I know that he is one of the city’s most beloved (and most likely the oldest) citizens.

Judy sensed after the first few minutes that this conversation was going to take a while, knowing my penchant for drawing stories, opinions, anecdotes, and experience-based wisdom out of interesting elders. (I have long held that they are among our most valuable national treasures). She moseyed off exploring the store, and ultimately finding the fascinating “museum” on the upper mezzanine filled with newspaper and magazine articles, autographs, and artifacts that confirmed what I enthusiastically started telling her (an hour later) about this dignified, elderly shopkeeper wearing a leather “bolo” tie with a silver slide that graced a very handsome western-style shirt with “diamond snaps”.

We were in Denver spending a wonderful week visiting our younger son Chris, and exploring the mountains (and ski towns) that captured him almost a decade ago.

The morning after an enjoyable evening watching the struggling Colorado Rockies baseball team try to end another losing streak (they didn’t) at beautiful Coors Field, we returned to that same revitalized downtown warehouse district to do some serious morning moseying. Little did I know that the morning would be dominated, and highlighted, by a conversation with a 104 year-old gentleman who is most assuredly the oldest active business owner (of the country’s most revered western wear store) in America.

We got to talking about his early days and the job that brought him to the Rocky Mountain West from the cornfields of Indiana. He took a job as an elastic garter salesman (the kind used to hold up men’s socks). His territory soon included every cowtown from El Paso, Texas to northern Montana.

I asked about his familiarity with Great Falls, Montana, my birthplace. That question somehow evolved into a recounting of the purchase of his first new car, a 1928 Chrysler…the 33rd car off the first Chrysler assembly line, mind you. The story involved some humorous “horse-trading” with a Montana car dealer. He said he was 27 years old when he bought the car. I started doing the math, and calculated that if what he was telling me was true, he had to be 104 years old instead of in the mid-eighties as I had initially suspected.

The wide-ranging stories went from impressing a barefoot rural Louisiana “country darkie” (without a hint of racism in his words, he was simply using the terminology of the times) hitchhiker in his shiny new motor car, to early business dealings with a bootmaker in Lewiston, Maine…the latter forthcoming when he found out where we had traveled from. All were told with a sharpness of wit, and an endearing sense of humor.

“Papa” Weil, as he is known locally and to some of the most famous celebrities in the world, started the Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg.Co. in 1946 in that same location and building where, at the time, a sidetrack of the Union Pacific Railroad ran down the middle of the street.

I soon found that Mr. Weil was the creator of the first distinctively fancy western shirts with “diamond snaps” and “sawtooth” pockets. The snaps were created in the interest of early rodeo bull-riders so the pocket flap would pop open if the bull’s horn hooked into it. Mr. Weil developed the first commercially produced “bolo” string ties that have become a western-wear signature over the years. He noted that he first called them “bola” ties, but a language-based misunderstanding on the part of a business associate resulted in the now-familiar term “bolo”.

Unmistakingly the patriarch of three generations who have continued to grow the Rockmount Ranch Wear company, “Papa” Weil then recounted some of those who were, or are, his most loyal and devoted shirt customers…Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan, Robert Redford, Bruce Springsteen, Nicholas Cage…I later found that the list truly does go on and on. Recently, they flew a rush order of shirts to London for Eric Clapton who needed them for a world tour that was starting in March.

It is all matter-of-fact to this interesting man of many years…whose classic western attire that he first innovated and marketed years ago reflect his view of his beloved west…”The West is not a place, it is a state of mind”. It is clear that he has influenced that state of mind of many through his shirts, bolo ties, cowboy hats and his personality, to bring that affinity for his distinctive western wear to admiring customers from cowhands to musicians and movie stars…and to at least one U.S. president.

I would encourage you to go to to read more about this one-time garter salesman and his enduring business and to see the shirts that have become a western art-form and have inspired the coffee-table book co-created by his grandson, Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion. It may not get many of us Mainers to forsake our wool plaid shirts for flowery diamond-snapped, sawtooth-pocketed cowboy shirts…but I guarantee you will find Mr. Weil’s story, and his enduring western-wear innovations, a fascinating read.

Allen Wicken, PT, MS, is President of the DownEast UpCountry
Company…”Enjoyable Ways to Wellness from Maine” Comments, per usual, are always welcome

Rockmount business and building undergo rebirth

By Linda Black, Special to the News
July 30, 2005

Steven Weil, vice president, Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co., 1626 Wazee St., Denver

Steven Weil's office at Rockmount Ranch Wear is perched on a mezzanine above colorful racks of the Western apparel that his family has been manufacturing for three generations. Light floods through the windows of the renovated historic LoDo building, and he can watch city life go by on Wazee Street.

But it wasn't always thus. Not so long ago, the 1908 building was just another old building that had undergone a number of slapdash changes since Weil's grandfather, Jack A. Weil, started the business in 1946. There was an entry, a small showroom and the business office, walled off with partitions, where Weil's desk was crammed in with other employees' desks.

"In my whole adult life, I never got to look out the window because there were partitions," says Weil, who in 1981 joined his grandfather (now 104 and still working) and his father, Jack B. Weil, in running the business after receiving his bachelor's degree at Tulane University in New Orleans and a master's degree in law and politics from the University of Bristol in England.


Click here to view a larger image.

Steven Weil, vice president of Rockmount, has followed in the footsteps of both his father and his grandfather in the family business.

Click here to view a larger image.
Photos by Matt Nager © News

A shirt made by Rockmount Ranch Wear is displayed in the downtown Denver office.


But the building, like the business, has undergone a rebirth. Formerly a wholesale operation only, Rockmount found itself challenged by the growing trend of apparel manufacturers moving overseas to cut costs.

He says the business had to find a way to go from being "a traditional apparel manufacturer to an apparel manufacturer that had a future."

And they did it by branching out into retail, targeting upscale customers. They started by setting up a small retail space.

When that was successful, they decided 14 months ago to renovate the building to expand the retail space and make it more attractive.

"We removed 90 years of bad remodeling," Weil says. "The crucial issue was to come up with a way to retain its authenticity and roots. The idea was not to become chrome and shiny like the Gap."

The pressed tin ceiling was restored. Linoleum was removed from the wood floors, and original brick and wall paneling were uncovered. The covered leaded glass transoms were replaced, letting in light.

Weil's office shares space on the new mezzanine with a small museum that includes the antique saddles he collects from around the world.

"It's an obsession," he says. "I think of a good saddle as fine art."

He points to four Western shirts mounted on cardboard easels that were used as advertising in the 1950s. He found them behind a wall during the renovation, had them framed and hung them on the wall.

Behind his desk is a collage of shirt patterns put together by students at his 7-year-old son Colter's school, after he taught them how patterns are made. In fact, Colter's artwork plays a large role in the décor, hanging in several places.

Oriental rugs cover the floor, and a Navajo rug hangs on the wall.

"I love the simplicity of Indian art."

There's the book Weil wrote, Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion.

Researching the history of Western shirts took him all over the world. Any place he traveled on business, he would scout out collectors and vintage shops in search of the shirts.

"Many of the shirts started here on Wazee Street and have now ended up across the world."

Weil says he wrote the book in large part "in honor of my father and grandfather, without whom none of this would be here."


Click here to view a larger image.
George Kochaniec Jr. © News

Jack Weil, 104, left, CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear, and Majon Huff, 93, chairman of Colorado Serum Co., chat over lunch at Colorado Serum on Wednesday. Weil may be the oldest working chief executive in the U.S.

Click here to view a larger image.
George Kochaniec Jr. © News

Majon Huff, 93, left, chairman of Colorado Serum Co., meets Jack Weil, 104, chief executive of Rockmount Ranch Wear, at Colorado Serum on Wednesday. The venerable executives, who go to work every day, got together for lunch because, as Huff joked, "We probably don't have much time left." 6B

Uncommon executives in session

Denver patriarchs, 104 and 93, share histories over lunch

By James Paton, Rocky Mountain News
June 2, 2005

Jack Weil and Majon Huff are perhaps the oldest top executives in Denver's corporate community.

While they belong to a select club, the two men have toiled for years without meeting each other.

Weil, who is 104, and Huff, who isn't far behind at 93, finally shook hands Wednesday after an odd chain of events brought the two proud patriarchs together.

The story began about three years ago when Weil's grandson, Steve, spotted a bundle of mail in the street while cycling in Park Hill. The address on the letters: Colorado Serum Co. on York Street.

Most people probably would have kept going.

"But I'm a nosy guy," said Steve Weil, who works with his grandfather at Rockmount Ranch Wear, the maker of Western apparel based in LoDo.

"If I see something in the street that looks interesting," he continued, "I'll grab it."

Steve Weil phoned the company, left a message, and heard back from a relieved and grateful Huff, who accidentally had driven off one day with the letters resting on top of his car.

Later, Huff pulled up, in a distinctive Checker car, to pick up the mail he had lost.

The chairman of Colorado Serum, a maker of animal vaccines and instruments for veterinarians, sent a fruit basket to say thanks.

And the two went on their ways.

They would meet again, however. Just last month, Steve Weil noticed a circa 1972 Checker car parked outside a Rite Aid on Colfax Avenue.

"I thought, 'Who do I know who has a car like that?' " said Steve Weil, 47.

So he waited, and Huff and his wife eventually emerged. The three talked briefly, and Steve Weil suggested a more formal family meeting to introduce Huff to his grandfather, who is regarded as the oldest working chief executive in the country.

"We probably don't have much time left, so I said, 'Let's do this soon,' " joked Huff, who goes by Majon, a blend of his mother's name, Mabel, and his father's name, Jon.

On Wednesday, Huff, his son, Joe, and his grandson, Dave, hosted a lunch on their 22-acre Denver property for three generations of Weils.

Over steak, vegetables and chocolate cake, the two elders learned that they have a lot in common.

The two men show up for work every day, Jack Weil getting a lift from his son, also named Jack. Majon Huff rolls in around 4:30 a.m. in one of the family's five Checker cars.

While they make vastly different products, Jack Weil's Rockmount Ranch Wear, opened in 1946, and Majon Huff's Colorado Serum, started in 1923, are family-run manufacturers that export all over the world.

"Everywhere except Antarctica," Joe Huff declared.

Steve Weil replied: "We actually exported to Antarctica once. A guy ordered a shirt, and his address was Lawrence of Antarctica."

Steve Weil, whose company sells shirts, ties, hats, belts and other items to 1,500 stores in roughly 30 countries, reflected on the series of events that led to Wednesday's lunch.

"I've had the unimaginable joy of working with my grandfather and father all these years," he said. "And I don't very often come across people in that same scenario. What I take away is that Denver is not always such a big city, and that it's amazing two families with such deep roots could meet each other by chance."

Steve Weil's grandfather, who wore one of his company's cowboy shirts and bolo ties, seemed to take comfort in the fact that his son and grandson, whom he referred to as "young whippersnappers," had stuck around to succeed him.

Majon Huff, who said that the only other job he has had was fighting in Europe in World War II, concurred.

"I'm glad a younger generation comes along because things do change," he said. "It's a tough business with more regulation, and I don't have the strength.

"But he does," Huff added, pointing to his 57-year-old son before turning to his 30-year-old grandson. "And he does."

About the CEOs

Majon Huff

Colorado Serum Co.
Age: 93

Jack Weil

Rockmount Ranch Wear
Age: 104

or 303-892-2544


May 21, 2005

American icon that refuses to hang up its boots
By James Doran
Our correspondent looks at the durability of Eric Clapton's favourite cowboy shirt maker

STEVE WEIL was about to turn off his computer after a long week of selling cowboy shirts from the shop his grandpa founded almost 60 years ago, when an e-mail arrived from Eric Clapton.
“It was a Friday night, I was about to go home and an e-mail arrived from this rock legend asking me to get him some shirts for the big Cream reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I bounced off the 15 foot ceiling,” says Weil, 47, who runs Rockmount Ranch Wear, which invented the modern western shirt, the ready-made bolo tie.

Within a week, Weil was on an aircraft to England to deliver a dozen “Sawtooth 640s”, Clapton’s favourite shirt. In return the guitar legend gave Weil two VIP backstage passes to the concert. Weil — an Anglophile educated at Bristol University and owner of an old Austin Healey and a clapped- out Bentley — gushes as he tells of partying after the gig with Sir Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman and Ringo Starr.

But the Weils — Steve, his father Jack and his 104-year-old grandfather “Papa” Jack — are no strangers to celebrity, having dressed stars such as Gene Autry, Elvis, David Bowie and Johnny Cash.

Rockmount is an American icon that has survived the 50-year decline of the industry. It has prospered while giants such as Levi Strauss have suffered. “Levi Strauss was a good friend of mine,” says Papa Jack, who is believed to be America’s oldest working company president. “He got too big for his britches is what happened to him. I knew John B. Stetson, too,” he adds, referring to the maker of cowboy hats. “He’s the same. They made too much money. You forget where you come from and you forget what you are doing when you don't have to work for a living.”

The painstakingly restored 1908 store front in Denver is lined with racks of bright western shirts, tall hats and cowboy boots. Papa Jack still sits behind his desk every day, telling stories of his days as a travelling elastic salesman on the western frontier.

The western outfitter was once as common on main streets in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Utah and California as Starbucks and Gap are today. "In the years since my grandfather started this business we had more than 240 competitor labels in this country,” says the youngest Weil. “Now we are one of a few more than 20. Over 90 per cent of our industry has been destroyed.”

When Jack Weil started Rockmount in 1946 the cotton he used to make the shirts was grown in the southern states, woven in Massachusetts, and the garments were stitched together in Georgia. Today the company still has factories in Georgia that make its trademark western shirts, with jagged or “sawtooth” pockets and diamond shaped press-studs.

“Most clothing sold in this country is made in China or Mexico, or elsewhere in Asia or Latin America,” says Weil. “It is very sad. The high street has also changed as many of the independent retailers that carried Rockmount’s clothes have gone out of business.”

The decline of America’s rag trade has led Rockmount to reinvent itself. The company was a wholesaler for more than 50 years but has moved into retail. “We never did retail because we didn’t want to damage our customers,” Papa Jack says. But now one giant retailer, whose name may not be spoken inside Rockmount’s store, has forced most of their customers out of business.

“Its all Wal-Mart these days,” says Papa Jack. “I can’t stand the sons of bitches. I know all about that Walton fellow from over there in Arkansas who started it. He was nothing but a hillbilly.”

But it was JC Penney who started the retailing trend that finished off America’s manufacturers and wholesalers. “James Cash Penney was his name, I knew him too,” Papa Jack says. “His trick was never to buy a store. He would come into town and take over the most successful store by offering a fellow JC Penney stock. Then he would give him more stock if he managed to open a store of his own.”

Papa Jack also has a thing or two to say about the US Government’s refusal to help the dying rag trade. And as for the North American Free Trade Agreement: “Almost as bad as Wal-Mart,” he says. “In the end you have to adapt to survive,” says the youngest Weil, who spearheaded the drive into retail, came up with the idea for Eric Clapton’s signature shirts and developed Rockmount into an international business.

As Papa Jack returns to his work a familiar looking fat man with a large white beard emerges from a fitting room in a bright red tasselled cowboy shirt and a red cowboy hat. “Ho, ho, ho,” he booms.

“It’s great Steve,” he says. “But I would prefer the shirt with some embroidered holly and berries instead of the flowers — can you do that?”

“Sure we can, Santa,” says Weil before saying again behind his hand: “You have to adapt to survive.”

May 21, 2005

Old timer with a hatful of ideas
By James Doran

PAPA Jack Weil sits behind a large wooden desk at the front of the Rockmount Ranch Wear store, his tiny frame almost obscured by a mountain of paperwork as he hunches over a clacking typewriter.

“Pull up a chair, I'll be done with this presently,” he says, before explaining how he is writing to a customer who owes the store some $1,600 for consignments delivered more than three months ago.

Papa Jack, at 104, gets to work at 7.30 each morning and chases up unpaid accounts for the company he founded in 1946. He is a first-generation American. His father, who died aged 91, came over from France in the 19th century.

Jack A Weil was brought up on the plains of Indiana but, like so many young men, went West to seek his fortune.

He was an elastic salesman for the biggest supplier to the clothing industry and drove an early Chrysler all over his territory. “My patch went from El Paso, Texas, down on the border with Mexico there, to the Canadian border,” he says with a chuckle. “That’s the whole country, you see.”

He gave up smoking at the age of 60, drinking at the age of 90 and eating red meat when he was 100.

As for his success in business, he advises staying out of debt — Rockmount has always been self-capitalised — helping others to succeed alongside you, and constant innovation.

The trademark cowboy shirt with bright colours and press studs was Papa Jack’s invention, as was the bolo tie and the cowboy hat with the curled brim.

“I was always thinking of something new,” he says. “But that’s me. I’m a dreamer. And I never stopped enjoying myself, not for a minute.”

May 12, 2005

Western shirt just the ticket for Clapton

By Bill Husted
Denver Post Columnist

Rockmount Ranch Wear's Steve Weil is just back from London and Friday night's closing Cream concert at Royal Albert Hall. He flew over on a moment's notice to bring some of his famous Western shirts to Eric Clapton, who had requested them via e-mail. Weil wrote back that he could hand-deliver them, but how 'bout two tix to the concert? Done deal.

"It was incredible," said Weil, still jet lagged and loopy Wednesday morning. "We were in row seven, the band was flawless. And Eric (Clapton) is living art."

Clapton met Weil before the concert to get the shirt and thank him for the extra effort. After the concert, Weil returned to the green room, where he walked in with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Bill Wyman. He was a little nervous talking to the Brits, so he was happy when Tom Hanks came up to say, "Hi, I'm Tom."

You certainly are.

Weil returned home with snapshots of him with Hanks and Clapton - and a deal in the works to create an Eric Clapton signature shirt.

Parker: Rockmount Ranch Wear scratches Clapton itch for Western duds
May 5, 2005

If Sir Eric Clapton is looking "snappy" these days, Rockmount Ranch Wear heir Steve Weil knows why.

Clapton, who flipped over a Rockmount signature snap-front shirt at a London shop, started an e-mail correspondence with Weil last Friday seeking more shirts.

"I recently bought some of your shirts from a friend of mine on Kings Road in Chelsea, England, and was knocked out," the initial e-mail said. "I've always loved real Western clothes and have found it increasingly hard to find them, even though I have toured extensively across the states for the last 40 years."

The rock icon figured that Weil would suspect a hoax, so he included the phone numbers of his assistants, so Weil could determine the veracity of the correspondent.

"The second I saw (Clapton's) name, I started bouncing off the walls," Weil said.

The e-mail exchanges continued until Clapton had ordered 16 shirts and one black fringe leather jacket. (And, yes, the guitar god paid for the goods.)

Sunday's e-mail from "e.c." (no caps): "You'll be pleased to know that we just played the first of four Cream reunion gigs in London at the Royal Albert Hall, and I was wearing one of your shirts. The last show is on Friday, so with any luck I can wear one of the new ones."

Rather than trusting "luck" to an overnight delivery service, Weil offered to deliver the shirts personally in time for the concert. Clapton guaranteed Weil and his pal Gerry Engle tickets to the London gig.

Today, Weil and Engle board a flight to London loaded down with Rockmount Western wear.

"In terms of the bouncing off the wall factor, this is way high," said Weil, whose company's shirts have been worn by many celebs, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Ronald Reagan, Nicolas Cage and Bob Dylan.

April 12, 2005
Belated Birthday
Penny Parker

BELATED BIRTHDAY: Western wear whiz Jack A. Weil turned a whopping 104 on March 28.

His grandson and third generation Rockmount Ranchwear tycoon Steve Weil reports that "Papa Jack" is doing just fine, thank you.

"People come into Rockmount all the time and ask Papa Jack if he has lived in Denver all his life," Steve said.

"He replies, 'So far.' "

His secret to a long life?

According to Steve, "He does not overeat, and gave up smoking when he was 60."

THE SEEN: Caramelo author Sandra Cisneros (whose book was chosen for the One Book, One Denver reading program) buying snappy shirts Thursday at Rockmount Ranchwear in LoDo

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630).Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail

104 and counting
Bill Husted

Willard Scott wished Rockmount Ranch Wear's CEO Papa Jack Weil a happy 104th birthday on the "Today Show" on Thursday morning.

His grandson, Steve Weil, was surprised when I told him and says he didn't make it happen. "I'm not exploiting my grandfather's birthday," he said. "We're just thrilled he's well and comes to work every day."

Papa Jack is often saluted as the oldest CEO in America. Steve says, "We're now under the impression that he's the oldest CEO in the world."

April 8, 2005

Author Sandra Cisneros reads from her acclaimed book, “Caramelo,” on Thursday night in Denver at North High School. The story took nine years to write.

She is wearing Rockmount lurex plaid shirt #7722-Grey
Her book was selected by Mayor John Hickenlooperfor the community to read and discuss in his"One Book Inniative". Cisneros maintains "The more we expand libraries, the less we'll expand prisons".
photo: Matthew Staver

Sunday, March 20, 2005
Arts & Entertainment/books

From practical to collectible

Denverite helps write Western look book

By Sandra Dallas
Special to The Denver Post

Bronx-born Ralph Lauren was in Denver on business in 1977 and decided to buy himself some Western duds. But to his disappointment, he couldn't find a single authentic Western shirt. Or so he told Vanity Fair in an article published the following year. He had to design his own and in the process reinvented Western wear, he claimed.

Why didn't the trendy designer check the Denver yellow pages? asked Steven E. Weil in a follow-up letter to the magazine. Lauren would have found some 30 Western shirt retailers and manufacturers in Denver, including Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co., whose founder, Jack A. Weil, invented the snaps used on almost all Western shirts, including those now made by Lauren.

Steve Weil, who with his grandfather, Jack A., and father, Jack B., runs Rockmount, has been writing about Western shirts since he sent that letter. So little wonder he and G. Daniel DeWeese, an industry magazine editor, have put together "Western Shirts," a gorgeous book an American homegrown fashion.

Denver's origin as a Western shirt center goes back to 1919 when, in a classic Colorado story, Philip Miller, an Easterner with tuberculosis, came to Denver to die, but instead got well and set up a branch of the family hat business. He quickly expanded into other apparel, including Western clothing. The company became Miller Stockman. Over the years, employees left to start other companies, including Rockmount.

Western wear is a close-knit industry made up of family-owned firms, and much of the business is done on a handshake, but that is not to say there hasn't been a bit of piracy over the years. Jack A. Weil recalls a visit from a competitor who spotted a sample Rockmount shirt made of mattress ticking. Rockmount decided against producing the shirt because the fabric flaked. Later the competitor phoned Weil to say, "You SOB, why didn't you tell me that shirt was no good?" The man had copied the mattress-ticking fabric, "and every one came back."

Western shirts are one of America's few unique clothing styles. (Levi's are another.) Slim-fitting with long, narrow cuffs, they were designed so cowboys wouldn't catch their shirts while working cattle or doing other chores. Jack A., who started Rockmount in 1946, replaced buttons with snaps so that shirt fronts and sleeves would snap open, not tear, if the shirt got caught in barbed wire or animal horns. He recognized that cowboys liked to dude it up, so he added embroidery and fringe, fancy yokes and bright fabrics.

Until the late 1970s, the shirts were sold mostly to ranch and farm hands and a few people who liked casual Western wear. Then came the Urban Cowboy craze, and everybody bought Western shirts. Manufacturers geared up, only to find themselves with unsold inventory when the trend ran its course. Several went bankrupt, but not Rockmount, which had been conservative about expanding. Those who survived faced other problems, including NAFTA, and more went bust in the 1990s. But thanks in part to Lauren, who promoted high-priced Western designs, and to the nostalgia craze, Western shirts remain popular.

So do the old ones, and that's the real reason for this book. Steve Weil is a collector, and "Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion" is not just a history of the Western shirt in America, it's the bible for collectors.

Here are the stories of the manufacturers, a glossary of Western shirt terms - shotgun cuff, smile pocket, scalloped yoke - pictures of labels, catalogs, ads and counter cards. And there are wonderful full-color photos of the shirts themselves in all their splendor. In short, everything is here for the shirt collector, including interviews with collectors themselves.

Not everybody understands the collector craze, including a few of the manufacturers. Browsing through a Los Angeles antiques store some years ago, Steve came across a brown gabardine Rockmount shirt with fancy yellow embroidery and told the dealer it was one of the first Western shirts his grandfather had made.

Touched, the dealer told Steve to take the shirt and send him a couple of new ones. Steve was so excited at the find that he didn't wait until he got home but found a phone booth and called his grandfather. "What?" Jack A. exclaimed. "You traded two perfectly good new shirts for an old one we sold for three dollars 40 years ago?"

Sandra Dallas is a Denver author. Her newest novel, "New Mercies," is scheduled for release next month. ... Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion By Steven E. Weil and G. Daniel DeWeese Gibbs Smith, 176 pages, $39.95

Colorado Matters on Western Shirts: A Classic American Tradition
Colorado Public Radio,
December 20, 2004

Steve Weil
Steve Weil, president of Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear, on his new book, Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion.

Shelter from the swarm
December 13, 2004

By Janet Simons, Rocky Mountain News

Shoppers can search in secret at local businesses' 'hidden' stores

This time of year, medication for headaches and sore backs must sell well. Consider how many evenings you've come home exhausted and cranky after shopping at some supersize discount store. Wouldn't it be better to shop in uncrowded, relaxed settings and know that the money you spend supports the local economy and culture?

This year, discover the joy of shopping at the metro area's "secret stores," many of which are hidden in corporate offices, factories or warehouses.

When you shop at these locally based businesses, some of them internationally known, you have a chance to meet the people who make the products and tell them what you think. You'll also gain the satisfaction of knowing that your money is staying in the neighborhood.

For example, when you buy soup mixes and gift baskets at the Women's Bean Project shop, you support an organization that's celebrating its 15th year of helping displaced and unemployed women get back on their feet.

If you visit the just-renovated retail store in the downtown headquarters of Rockmount Ranch Wear, you might be able to say hello to founder Jack Weil. At 103 years old, the man who invented pearl snap buttons and introduced them to Western shirts still comes by every day.

"When we opened the retail store, it was secondary to the manufacturing company, which has been at this location for 60 years," said Weil's grandson, company vice president Steve Weil. "It was very successful, however, and we found we really enjoyed talking to the people who wore the clothing we designed and made."

This month, Rockmount unveiled its "new" look, a renovation that puts the emphasis on retail and restores many of the building's original 1909 features, including leaded-glass transom windows, wooden columns and a pressed-tin ceiling.

The Rockmount store sells at retail prices, as do many of the other stores on this list. But at several of these lesser-known shops, you'll find terrific deals. At the factory outlets for Hammond's and Stephany's candies, for example, you'll pay considerably less for the same treats featured in such catalogs as Harry and David, Williams-Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca. And at the Twice Upon a Time warehouse, you'll be able to buy children's clothing for half its retail price.

Denver's hidden shopping treasures

Local stores that offer quality products without the crowds ...

Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co., 1626 Wazee St., 303-629-7777,

The Weil family has been shipping Western wear from its Denver headquarters for 60 years. Retail is the building's new emphasis, and the setting shows off Rockmount's shirts and artist-designed silk ties and scarves. There's also a store at Colorado Mills.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

or 303-892-2547

Collaring a Western Classic
December 13, 2004

By Suzanne S. Brown, Denver Post Staff Writer

The scion of a longtime Denver ranch-wear family charts the colorful history of the cowboy shirt

Post / Lyn Alweis

From left, at Rockmount’s LoDo headquarters, now a retail store as well as offices, are the three generations of the Weil family: Steven E., Jack A. and Jack B.

The grandson of Rockmount Ranch Wear founder Jack A. Weil, and son of its vice president, Jack B. Weil, Steven E. Weil grew up living, breathing and wearing his family's Western wear.

At 18 months he modeled a tiny gingham snap-front shirt and white cowboy boots. In high school, he raided his grandfather's closet for cool clothes to wear.

Weil prizes vintage styles, their history and the iconic figures who sported Rockmount: Elvis Presley. Ronald Reagan. Robert Redford. Bruce Springsteen.

"In fashion there are few classics that have remained as popular over such a long time as Western shirts," says Weil, author of "Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion," just published by Gibbs Smith of Salt Lake City ($39.95).

His 103-year-old grandfather doesn't understand all the fuss. He remembers when shirts sold for $45 a dozen and can't fathom why someone would spend $100 for an old one.

In the book, Steven describes displaying some Rockmount classics after joining the family business in 1981 after his graduation from Tulane University in New Orleans.

"My desire to preserve history by hanging Papa Jack's shirts in our lobby museum ran counter to his desire to stay warm; on cold Colorado winter days, he would take my exhibits home to wear," Weil writes. "For him they were meant to be worn; for me, to preserve."

Shirt story

Co-written with G. Daniel DeWeese, the book chronicles the cowboy shirt's rise, fall and renewed popularity in fashion circles, and documents the companies that made Western shirts. Denverites will remember names such as Miller and Karman (now Roper), but there were other local companies, including Prior, Hillbilly Westerns and Ranch-Man Westernwear.

For the connoisseur, the tome deconstructs the garment's elements, describing yokes, collars, cuffs and ornamentation; and also pictured are 240 labels that will help collectors determine the age and authenticity of a shirt.

"The last thing we wanted was for it to be a vanity piece on Rockmount. We wanted it to be a scholarly study," Weil says during an interview in the company's LoDo headquarters.

Recently renovated with help from a State Historical Fund grant, the 1909 Fisher & Fisher building at 1626 Wazee St. features its original fir flooring; the tin ceiling has been antiqued to burnished gold; and a full assortment of Rockmount Ranch Wear merchandise is displayed on antiques and new steel fixtures in the front room. Offices were moved to the side and back rooms, which are still being renovated.

Many of the shirts for sale are reproductions of styles from Rockmount's early days, including the floral embroidered style featured on the book's cover. It was designed in the 1950s by Jack B., who often drew a design on a shirt in chalk and then had the pattern embroidered to see how it looked.

Weil attributes some of the renewed interest in vintage styles to the popularity of Western shirts in countries such as Japan and Australia.

Stateside, Gap and Diesel are among the companies that have put Western shirts in their lines in recent seasons, and the snug fit appeals to a new generation.

"When Western fashion came into being it was mainly popular with young, slim men," Weil writes. "...Now slim-fit, retro-Western is appealing to young men again."

The early days

Western wear was popularized by early rodeo cowboys and actors who wore flashy costumes made by Hollywood tailors. Novels romanticized the West, as did traveling shows, thus building an appetite among Americans to experience it for themselves. Soon both working cowboys and the public wanted those colorful shirts, fancy hats, dungarees and boots.

"While the movies captured the public's imagination, dude ranches helped facilitate the spread of Western fashion after World War II," Weil writes, noting that the industry grew steadily from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Then "Urban Cowboy" almost killed it. When the movie starring John Travolta came out in 1978, the industry got a big boost. But many companies rushed to get into the business and overloaded it; by 1981, the boom became a bust.

When the fad was over, "the core Western market reacted against flamboyant Western styling," Weil writes, and conservative looks came back into play. The trend continued until 2003, when the bulk of Western brands went retro.

The one good thing to come out of the "Urban Cowboy" craze was that Western style reached the mass market for the first time. Weil gives Ralph Lauren credit for popularizing it.

But Weil has a gripe with the famous designer stemming from a remark Lauren made to Vanity Fair in an interview published in 1998. "He made the dubious claim of having reinvented Western because, he said, on a (1977) trip to Denver he could not find a real Western shirt," Weil writes, adding that the comments were "patently wrong, obviously self-serving, and offensive to many in the Western apparel industry."

(At the time, there were more than 30 Western wear retailers listed in the phone book, according to Weil.)

Weil misunderstood Lauren's remarks, says Nancy Murray, senior vice president for public relations at Ralph Lauren. The designer was on a quest for a Western shirt with original styling.

Lauren, she says, "went to four or five stores looking for a 100 percent cotton shirt with a shorter collar, but what he found were the 1970s versions, which were in a polyester blend and had longer collars."

Weil acknowledges that what Lauren did "turned out to be a gift ... mainstream Americana - and the rest of the world - was introduced to a look, which, had it been in a traditional Western store, they would never have bought," he writes.

Weil realizes that he sometimes sings the praises of Western wear at his own peril. His designs have been copied repeatedly by other manufacturers, and he recently rushed several vintage Rockmount styles into production before the book was printed to keep knockoff artists from beating him to it.

Western-shirt popularity is cyclical, like everything else in fashion, but for now, he's happy the vintage styles he discovered as a teen are finding a new audience.

"They're all selling," he says, gesturing to the floor filled with colorful shirts and silk scarves. "In this day and age, you can't afford to produce bad inventory."

Staff writer Suzanne S. Brown can be reached at 303-820-1697 or .

Off-the-cuff talk

Steven Weil of Rockmount Ranch Wear will talk about "Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion" at noon Tuesday at the Denver Press Club's Book Beat Luncheon, 1330 Glenarm Place. Sponsored by the Denver Athletic Club, the event is $20 (those wearing a Western shirt will get $1 off admission). For reservations, call 303-571-5260

America's Oldest CEO
December 9, 2004
written by : Jinah Kim (9NEWS Reporter)
DENVER - He's believed to be America's, if not the world's, oldest CEO.

Jack Weil - known affectionately by his employees and family as "Papa Jack," is 103 years old, but he still clocks in at his company in LoDo every single day.

"I came to Denver in 1928," Weil says. "It was a wonderful place for a young man to come. There was every opportunity in the world."

Weil used his experience as a regional salesman for a clothing manufacturer to begin Rockmount Ranch Wear, headquartered on Wazee Street in downtown Denver. His clothing captures Denver's early Wild West spirit - and it's one of the longest running businesses in the Rockies. For more than 60 years, he's been the CEO and he's not about to quit anytime soon.

"Papa Jack," as he's known, introduced snaps to Western style shirts so they would be safer for bullriders.
Dec. 9, 2004.

"Well, if you like what you do, it isn't hard," Weil says confidently."He's one of those people whose existence is defined by his work," says grandson Steve Weil, who helps run the family business along with his father, Jack B. Weil. "My grandmother always said his business is his mistress."

Besides his longevity, Papa Jack is most famous for being the first to commercialize snap button western shirts. Weil thought it would come in handy with cowboys who, instead of getting their buttons caught on a bull's horns during a rodeo, could just snap their shirts off.

"My father and grandfather are among the people who popularized western fashion," says Steve Weil. With three generations working daily together, they can get on each others' nerves. "My big job now is to keep peace between my son and my grandson," chuckles Papa Jack. But they consider working with each other a blessing.

This Saturday, December 11th, Rockmount is launching a new book written by Steve Weil about the history of Rockmount and western wear. The public is invited to Rockmount, on Wazee between 16th and 17th Streets, from 12 pm to 3 pm. For more information, call 303-629-7777.

(Copyright by KUSA-TV, All Rights Reserved)

Rocky Mountain News
December 3, 2004
By Patti Thorn
Steve Weil, the third-generation boss of Rockmount Ranchwear in LoDo, told several star-encounter stories during a signing earlier this week of his new book, Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion, at the Tattered Cover in Cherry Creek.

One tale involved a certain British rock star. "My father comes to the office on a Saturday after closing because he left something there," Steve said. "There's a guy at the window looking in at everything. The guy says 'I'm from out of town and every time I come here you're closed.' "My dad says, 'OK, come on in.' The guy buys some shirts. The next day my father says to me in his naive-ish way, 'Some musician came in and got some shirts yesterday. His name is David Bowie.' " Steve shrugged off the shirt story, thinking his dad had the customer's name wrong. "On the following Tuesday, a woman calls who's David Bowie's secretary and she says he wants more shirts," Steve said. "He ordered 15 shirts and wore them on stage in New York for the next concert."

STAR SEARCH: Nashville Star, USA Network's grass-roots search series to find the next country music star, will be showcasing eight Colorado wannabes from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Bender's 13th Ave. Tavern, 314 E. 13th Ave. The public is invited to watch and cheer on the contestants. TIM TIME: Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday for country music hunk Tim McGraw in concert on July 23 during the 109th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days. Tickets are available at or by calling 1-800-22-RODEO or 1-866-464-2626. Tickets: $10 to $24. THE SEEN: Avalanche hockey hunk Dan Hinote yukking it up at Comedy Works on Friday. EAVESDROPPING on a man and a woman at The Palm: "She looks great but she has issues." "Sounds like half the women you know."
Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on the Caplis and Silverman radio show between 4 and 5 p.m. Fridays on KHOW-AM (630). Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail

The West Is Best
MON, 11/29

Steve Weil thinks it's a tired old joke: "Western wear is in my jeans," he says, fearfully ejecting the line and fully expecting a groan. But in Weil's case, it's absolutely true. He followed his father and his grandfather into the family business, LoDo's Rockmount Ranch Wear, and it's no wonder he can, as he readily claims, sniff out a good vintage cowboy shirt from across the street.

Weil also cares about tradition: "During the golden age of Western wear, from the '40s to the '60s, Western shirts were just as wild and crazy as the cars with big fins and huge grills. And that's been lost: Everything's generic in fashion now."

Although he'd beg to differ ("Some of the collectors I've met know more about company history than I do," he notes), no one is more qualified to author a book on the duds than he is.

And he did: Weil will sign Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion, a gorgeous coffee-table tome co-written with C. Daniel DeWeese, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. For information, call 303-436-1070, and for more about the book, visit -- Susan Froyd

HOT TYPE: Lassoing Fashion History
Rocky Mountain News
November 19, 2004
By Patti Thorn

On a 1985 trip to Los Angeles, Steve Weil spotted an elaborately embroidered Western shirt, hung high over the transom in a store on a tony street. As it turns out, the shirt was practically a member of the family - designed years ago by his grandfather, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Weil struck a deal with the store owner, and before you could say Wild Bill Hickok, he had snagged a collectible.

"Excited, I hurriedly called my grandfather from a pay phone on the street," he writes. Unimpressed, his grandfather scolded him.

"What!" he said. "You traded two perfectly good new shirts for an old one we sold for $3.40 years ago?"

Such is the thinking of a practical man, in the practical world of Western wear. But what was once practical has now become classic Americana, and Western shirts are now as much a part of our history as crafted saddles and Western movies. Who better to tell the story than a third-generation Rockmount hand?

Weil, who helms the company previously run by his grandfather and father, is the author, with G. Daniel DeWeese, of Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion (Gibbs, Smith, 176 pages, $39.95). The intriguging new coffee-table book details the history of Western shirts, replete with photos dating to the 1920s and chapters on the heavy hitters in the business, including companies with local roots, such as Karman, Inc., Miller Stockman and, of course, Rockmount.

Best of all, it's peppered with amusing Rockmount anecdotes. Readers can't help but chuckle at the story of grandfather Weil's now-legendary idea to use snaps on Western shirts - an idea the snap manufacturer didn't take to initially. "Misapplication," they sniffed.

Said Weil: "Dammit, if I bought and paid for them and ate them as Post Toasties it's none of your business!"

That feistiness served the elder Weil (now 103 years old) through the years. His grandson's tribute to the business may be more measured, but it's bound to wear well with readers.

Steve Weil will appear at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 29, 2004 at the Tattered Cover Cherry Creek, 2955 E. First Ave., Denver.; noon, Dec. 11, at Rockmount Ranch Wear, 1626 Wazee St.; and noon, Dec. 14, Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place.

Western Author's Panel
Austin Chronicle
Nov 12, 2004
By Stephen MacMillan Moser

Masters of the rodeo (l-r): Prolific author of books on Western wear, Tyler Beard; author of How the West Was Worn, Holly George-Warren; author and vice-president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, Steve Weil; and local expert on Western wear and seller of vintage cowboy boots Evan Voyles at the booksigning reception at Blackmail during the Texas Book Festival
photo by Mary Sledd
MASTERS OF THE RODEO I was so excited about moderating the Texas Book Festival panel I See by Your Outfit: The History of Western Wear that I rehearsed for days in front of the mirror, prancing back and forth in a variety of outfits, brandishing a hairbrush like a microphone as I pointed out into the invisible audience, taking questions, "Yes, ma'am. You in the orange chiffon ..."

When it came time, I was smooth as shorn sheep. A brief technical difficulty inspired us to present an impromptu fashion parade, making the "models" (authors) take a spin to show off their authentic finery. I did actually get to take questions from the audience; my favorite interaction was with a little girl who said that the reason she was there was because she liked sparkly things.

The panel was very cool. It was especially fun to meet lovely Jamie Nudie, granddaughter of Nudie, the most famous rodeo tailor of all. He was the man behind Elvis' legendary gold laméé suit in 1957, Porter Waggoner's star-crossed threads, and was the first to put a rhinestone on a Western shirt. Jamie was wearing one of her grandfather's own suits that had been altered to fit her; the detailing was breathtaking. She's an amazing and modest woman who is truly Western-wear royalty. Her new book, Nudie: The Rodeo Tailor, is a wonderful history of Nudie's empire as well as a loving tribute to her grandfather. Ms. Nudie laughed as she told the story about how her grandfather's original Russian name had been mangled by immigration officials and how the appellation stuck. She was accompanied by her (also) splendidly dressed co-author Mary Lynn Cabrall.

The charming Steve Weil of Rockmount Ranch Wear is also Western-wear royalty, being the grandson of Rockmount's founder (the elder Mr. Weil is 103 and still goes to work every day). Steve's comprehensive book Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion is enchanting.

Boot expert Tyler Beard discussed his newest work Cowboy Boots, along with the effervescent and deeply knowledgeable Holly George-Warren, author of How the West Was Worn, which inspired the marvelous exhibit of the same name at the Bob Bullock Museum. Beard, Warren, and Weil also appeared for a booksigning and receptionat Blackmail, which had just unveiled its brilliant sister-store-next-door, Vivid (1202 S. Congress, 326-3095) the night before. Gail Chovan scores another, as the store is delightfully chic and brimming with colorful merchandise, from fresh flowers to feather headdresses. Vivid, like Blackmail, also carries Rockmount Ranch Wear as well as Evan Voyles' expert collection of vintage boots.

After A Fashion
Austin Chronicle, October 22, 2004

By Stephen MacMillan Moser

Vintage boots and Rockmount Western shirt at Blackmail, where three leading authors of books on Western wear will be signing books

THESE BOOTS... Spit shine those Luccheses, and get yourself to Blackmail on Sat., Oct. 30, 4pm to meet the fascinating Tyler Beard. The author of The Cowboy Boot Book, Art of the Boot, and new book Cowboy Boots, will be on hand for a booksigning along with Steve Weil of the wonderful Rockmount Ranch Wear. The Denver author will be present with his book Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion (and a few Rockmount giveaways), and Holly George Warren, who wrote the fabulous How the West Was Worn. Of course, Blackmail is the pre-eminent place to buy your vintage cowboy boots (connoisseur Evan Voyles will assist), and you might even get a peek at Blackmail's new sister store, Vivid (it's all about color). Call 326-7670 for more info...

FOREVER YOUNG: After decades, Western-wear 'trend' holds on to its looks
Rocky Mountain News, October 14, 2004

By Dahlia Jean Weinstein

In the old West, cowboy clothes had a purpose: to shield ranch hands from the rigors of their job. Sturdy shirts protected their arms from rope burns, and leather saved their bodies from bruises.

In the 1940s, Western wear started seeping into the American fashion culture. More than 60 years later, urban dwellers in Colorado who have never ridden a horse, baled hay or swept a stall sport Western boots and jeans, cowboy shirts and Stetsons.

But don't be quick to label Denver a cow town. Today's Western shirts and accessories can be paired with contemporary pieces, adding sophistication and style to one of the longest-running fashion trends in American history.

Examples are easy to see at Western-inspired fashion events such as Volunteers of America's annual Western Fantasy fund-raiser, which will be held Saturday. The event attracts plenty of fashion-forward women who wear everything from fringed suede suits and slacks, to boots and bustiers to formal ball gowns, all with a distinctive Western flair and giving life to the term cowgirl-chic.

Even mixing and matching simple vintage cotton cowboy-print shirts with lavish velvet pants or a contemporary leather vest gives a modern look to what was once a traditional fashion statement.

Add a big-buckled belt with a contemporary design and some glamorous velvet and satin-accented stilettos or suede boots and the sexy side of Western wear comes galloping through.

Just ask Steve Weil, the third-generation owner of Colorado's Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co.

Rockmount, which invented pearl snap buttons and introduced them to Western shirts, also commercially produced bolo ties and helped popularize Western wear throughout the United States and abroad.

Weil has spent the past three years traveling throughout the United States, Europe and Asia researching and photographing Western shirts and accessories produced by Rockmount and more than 250 other Western labels for the book Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion.

"The romance of the West is why Western wear is classic," Weil said. "The cowboy is an icon, which explains why Western wear is the longest-running fashion statement in popular culture. It used to be worn by ranchers, farmers and cowboys only.

"Now, an amazingly cool array of people wear it - rock stars, truck drivers, lawyers and doctors. It is a protest of the mundane."

Rockmount superstars

  • Rockmount shirts have adorned movie stars such as Elvis Presley, in Love Me Tender; Clark Gable, in The Misfits; James Caan, Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, in Flesh & Bone; and most recently Chris Cooper, in Silver City. The late President Ronald Reagan wore Rockmount, and Robert Redford's staff at the Sundance Resort in Utah wear Rockmount shirts as part of their uniforms. Rockmount music stars include Bob Dylan, Alan Jackson, Don Henley and Bruce Springsteen, who have each been featured in a Rockmount original on an album or magazine cover.

Ellen Jaskol © News

A hand-embroidered chenille steer peeks out from the back of a vintage Rockmount reissue "Steer" shirt. The style is based on the 1940s original made for women and men ($75).

Ellen Jaskol © News

Cowboys riding bucking broncos adorn Rockmount's yellow vintage Western- print shirt with signature sawtooth pockets and diamond snaps ($56), worn with Burberry's double-belted pleated jean skirt from Burberry ($360).


Fashion calendar, October 14


Slide show: Forever young

Western tome

  • The coffee-table book Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion (Gibbs Smith, $39.95) will be released Nov. 15. The book features more than 450 photographs of vintage shirts and a label index of more than 250 brands made from the 1920s to the present. It chronicles the history of the classic designs of Western shirts that pioneered a lifestyle, the people who made them and the original brands. A book-signing with co-authors Steve Weil and C. Daniel DeWeese will be held Nov. 29 at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Cherry Creek. For more information, call Rockmount, 303-629-7777, or visit the site at

Find out more details on this exciting book by going to out catalog.
Just click here.

COLORADO ORIGINALS: Snap-style Western shirt
The Denver Post, Sunday, August 22, 2004

Rockmount Ranch Wear is credited with designing the snap-style Western shirt. But there's more to the shirt and the story than snaps.

Founder Jack A. Weil wanted to "create a fashion that was distinct from shirts of the day," said his grandson, Steve. "Cowboys wanted their own fashion identity, something distinct from what city slickers wore." That meant stylized yokes, a tailored cut, flap pockets - and snaps.

The shirts were first sold in feed stores and boot stores. Jack A., still Rockmount's chief executive at 103, was the visionary. Jack Jr. sold the East Coast on Western fashion in the 1950s. And two decades later, Steve took business overseas to Europe and Asia. But Rockmount, still based in a Wazee Street warehouse, earned celebrity status long before all that.

In 1961, Clark Gable wore the company's shirts in "The Misfits." Then came Elvis, Bob Dylan, Ronald Reagan, Nicolas Cage and others. The Weils won't put numbers to that success, except to say Rockmount has sold millions of snap-style shirts.

-- Kelly Pate Dwyer

Denver TV Station Channel WB2 KWGN
July 2004

Denver TV Station Channel WB2 KWGN broadcasting morning news from Rockmount, July 13, 2004. from rt: Rick Trujillo(WB2), Dan Daru (WB2), Papa Jack, Jack B. & Steve Weil

Cowboys & Indians,
July 2004

James Garner

James Garner in Rockmount's No. 6940-Peri Pima Cotton, Cowboys & Indians, July 2004

Monday, June 21, 2004

Western-wear CEO still a snappy dresser at 103
By J. Sebastian Sinisi
Denver Post Staff Writer

Lyn Alweis / Post

Jack A. Weil founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946, relying on his invention, the snap button.

At age 103, Jack A. Weil, entrepreneur and Western- wear patriarch, is one of the oldest chief executives in the nation.

Weil is the founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the last "old line" Western clothing firm that still manufactures its garb in the U.S. He opened the Denver business on Wazee Street nearly 60 years ago.

Today, he remains an active leader of the company, though he admits that time has slowed him down a bit. He now arrives at 8 in the morning instead of 7.

"I'm not as young as I used to be," he quips.

While his son and grandson manage major components of the company, Weil still works five or six hours a day, handling accounting duties and other administrative chores.

"Know of anyone else over 100 who's still working as the head of his company?" asked his grandson, Steve Weil.

Like Jack Weil himself, the office, located in a 1908 building, is a curious blend of old and new - posters of 1940s Western movie stars mix with computers, desks and other equipment that comes with a modern corporate office.

As in life, Weil says, Rockmount's success comes from a "feel" for the business as much as any kind of marketing strategy.

"You also have to like what you do," he said. "I'm still around at 103 because I love what I do."

Wearing cowboy boots and a Rockmount shirt with the snap buttons he invented, Weil recalled driving to Denver in a Chrysler Roadster with his bride, Bea, in 1928, when U.S. 40 was mostly unpaved.

When Weil wearied of traveling as a Denver-based road salesman in 1935, he became a partner in the Stockman Co., which sold jeans and hats to farmers and working cowboys.

But he realized the business wasn't going to make much money from cowboys.

"If they had any, they wouldn't be cowboys - especially during the Depression," he noted.

Weil then persuaded chamber of commerce and rodeo officials to promote their towns and events by wearing Western clothes.

"I wasn't promoting a product, but the romance of the West," he said.

The strategy worked, and the firm, now Miller Stockman, prospered.

Weil cashed out and launched Rockmount in 1946, with the innovation of metal snaps in place of buttons on Western shirts.

The snap buttons, which became Rockmount's signature, were designed with practical authenticity.

"If a cowboy's buttoned shirt got hooked on a steer's horn, it would hold," he said. "But the snap would pop open."

When his son, Jack B. Weil, joined the firm in 1952, he took over design and expanded Rockmount's apparel, hat and accessories lines. He also introduced Western shirts for women.

Steve Weil came on board in 1981 with a business degree from Tulane University and extended Rockmount's reach to stores in Canada, Europe, Japan and Singapore.

Today, showrooms display photos of celebrities - Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Jodie Foster - all wearing Rockmount shirts.

In an era of corporate giants and big-box retailers, Rockmount continues to succeed as a family-run anomaly. Jack Weil takes pride that, despite the company's success, it remains more of a "mom-and-pop company."

"I love the personal contact I've had with all kinds of people. For me, that's what always made it fun," he said. "And it never hurt to be a bit of a 'ham."'

In business, Weil always offered the same price to big stores as he did to "mom and pop" firms. And he never sold to discounters.

Friends and colleagues say Weil's personality and business acumen remain a strong component of Rockmount's legacy.

"He's smart, witty and has a wonderful Western sense of humor," said Bob Levy, former vice present of Fashion Bar, a leading Denver clothing retailer until it was sold in the late 1980s. "And he has a huge number of friends."

His independence and energy continue to amaze his friends, said longtime pal Joe Silversmith, an insurance broker.

"I'd like to patent and bottle whatever it is that makes him tick," Silversmith said.

Personal Email to Rockmount - They even wear Rockmount at the South Pole!
June 2004

Subject: Good morning from Lawrence
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2004 10:14:36 +1200
From: "Ahlin, Lawrence"

Can I buy some of your shirts and have them sent via mail? Currently I am stationed overseas so it would have to be USPS if I can order.

Thanks for your time and response.
Lawrence Ahlin, Jr
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Our reply:

Dear Lawrence,
What a treat to hear from Antarctica. My 6 year old will be very impressed. He has studied the poles, but I am afraid he seems more focused on the north one, something to do with Santa...)

Anyway we would be glad to receive your order but suggest you may prefer long sleeves. Also we have to find out what you do there!

Just email your order with visa or mc to How long does it take to receive something via USPS in Antarctica? I hope it is faster than here in Denver!


Steve Weil

Their reply with pictures:

Aurora Australiaus at
South Pole Station, Antarctica
Lawrence Ahlers at Mt. Erebus, Antarctica
(before receiving his new Rockmount shirts).

Tack 'n Togs - Shirt Book All Buttoned Up
June 2004

Tack 'n Togs - Papa Jack 103rd Birthday & Cowboy Poetry Gathering
June 2004

The Denver Post - City Spirit
Thursday, May 27, 2004

City Spirit
By Bill Husted
Denver Post Columnist

... The London Times coming to town to interview Rockmount Ranch Wear's Jack A. Weil, at 103 probably the oldest CEO in America ...

Bill Husted's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Husted also appears on Fox 31 News. You can reach him at 303-820-1486 or at

Associated Press Syndicated Article - Venerable Western Clothier Bucks Trends
(AP syndicated article appearing in newspapers across USA)
April 25, 2003

Venerable Western Clothier Bucks Trends
The Associated Press

Jack A. Weil, center, the founder and president of Rockmount Ranch Wear stands in the showroom of his Denver store on Friday, April 23, 2004, with his son, Jack B., right, and grandson Steve. The senior Weil turned 103 in March and the company is throwing a public birthday party for him on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

DENVER (AP) - Though most wholesalers have fled the once run-down but now trendy Lower Downtown district in Denver, Rockmount Ranch Wear is staying just where it has since 1946. And that's not the only way the company is defying trends in an industry that has largely moved overseas.

"Who knows how long it'll go?" founder and president Jack A. Weil says. "I think it'll go forever if you just play it right."

Weil, who turned 103 in March, still goes to work every day to run Rockmount with son Jack B. and grandson Steven. The company threw a public birthday party for "Papa Jack" Sunday in its store in Golden, Colo.

The apparel manufacturer known for innovating Western shirts with snap closures and commercially produced bolo ties today is now known for its fierce loyalty to tradition. It continues to refuse to sell through chain stores or discounters.

"We'll never be the richest people in the cemetery, but we'll have a business we like," Weil said.

Rockmount in the past five years has started selling its own hats, accessories and signature shirts with diamond snaps and sawtooth pockets after decades of being strictly a wholesaler. It finally launched a Web site in 2001 and grudgingly allowed some production of new products, like silk ties, to be done in Asia.

This summer, renovation work at its historic, five-story headquarters building downtown will add a mini-museum and give retail operations more space.

"The only way a company stays in business is reinventing itself over time," Steven Weil said. "My role in recent years has been to retain the foundation my father and grandfather built, which is our integrity and personality, but reinvent our products and the way we sell it."

The company can't afford mass advertising but has attracted customers like Kiss front man Gene Simmons. Blues and rock veteran Al Kooper ordered shirts this week.

"One of the biggest impressions on me is Elvis Presley. He wore Rockmount shirts," Kooper said.

Jack A. Weil first moved to the West in 1928 to sell elastics products in a territory from El Paso, Texas, to the Canadian border. He saw swift demand for Western wear that a friend was selling but decided it would be better to manufacture than to sell.

Thus began Rockmount with a philosophy that every customer is important.

"On the invoice, they're the only ones who say `Hi, how ya doing.' They're your bud," said Nadine Nelson, owner of Nelsons' Tack Shop in Downsville, N.Y.

The company has roughly 100 employees.

The Weils won't release dollar figures, but Steven Weil said sales have been up 15 percent over the last two years after steep declines due to the recession and effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The elder Weil said his grandson, who expanded sales overseas, should carry the business well.

"As long as I have my health and I'm able to come to work," Weil said, "I'm thankful I can do so."

On the Net:

Appearing in the following newspapers as of 4/25/04:

LA Times Grand Forks Herald, ND Akron Beacon Journal, OH
Chicago Tribune Monterey County Herald, CA Jefferson City News Tribune, MO
Philadelphia Inquirer The State, SC Worcester Telegram, MA
Kansas City Star Springfield News Sun, OH Rapid City Journal, SD
Yahoo Ocala Star-Banner, FL In Forum, ND
Boston Globe Biloxi Sun Herald, MI Saginaw News, MI
Seattle Post Intelligencer Charlotte Observer, NC Bay City Times, MI
Miami Herald Lakeland Ledger, FL Ann Arbor News, MI
ABC 7 News Myrtle Beach Sun Times, SC Grand Rapids Journal, MI
Atlanta Journal Duluth News Tribune, MN Muskegon Chronicle, MI
Newsday Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IN Kalamazoo Gazette, MI
San Jose Mercury News, CA Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, GA Free Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA
Orlando Sentinel Centre Daily Times, PA Hampton Roads Daily Press, VA
Tallahassee Democrat Montgomery County Record, PA Hartford Courant, CT
Fort Worth Star Telegram Times Daily, AL North County Times, CA
San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA Bradenton Herald, FL

April 24, 2003

By Penny Parker
Rocky Mountain News Columnist

PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG: Rockmount Ranchwear founder "Papa" Jack A. Weil will celebrate birthday No. 103 with a cowboy poetry reading. The icon of Western fashion will be honored from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Rockmount's Colorado Mills store.

Local cowboy poets will spin yarns about Papa Jack, the man who created the first shirt with snaps.

Info: Rockmount LoDo, 303-629-7777, or the Mills store, 303-590-1708. MUSICAL NOTES: It's an invasion of the Canadians. Alanis Morissette is teaming with Barenaked Ladies for a full U.S. tour, including an Aug. 2 stop at Red Rocks. Watch for ticket details soon. Also, Prince has added a second show at the Pepsi Center. The Aug. 28 date will go on sale May 3 through Ticketmaster.

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail

The Rocky Mountain News, Dress Code, April 15


In celebration of Papa Jack Weil's 103rd birthday, head on over to Rockmount's Cowboy Poetry Reading to honor this icon of Western fashion, who created the first commercially made shirts with snaps. The event runs from 2 to 5 p.m. April 25 at the Colorado Mills Rockmount store.

Tack n Tog, February 2004

The Denver Post Thursday, January 29, 2004

Style 100

If style is all about the personal choices we make — what we wear and eat, the way we entertain ourselves and others, how we express our identities — then the Denver area offers an array of great options.

This list recognizes the most interesting among them, from old standbys to undiscovered gems. And it does so in two ways. First, it honors the places that keep our options invigorating: clothing stores both trendy and traditional, groceries that make our diets varied and our dinner parties fabulous, restaurants with menus that propel our palates forward. Second, it identifies the places and people who help define Denver's overall style on their own: museums, parks and eateries, along with artists, theaters and promoters, that shape our collective character while edging us toward a broader perspective of ourselves. Together, their style is our style.

62) Their ranks have dwindled, but Denver still can boast a few manufacturers of Western wear.

Stepping into the LoDo headquarters of Rockmount Ranch Wear is like time traveling to the early 20th century. Some of the company’s designs from the 1920s to the 40s are displayed on the walls, along with faded newspaper clippings.

The company’s founder, Jack A. Weil, 102, still comes to the office every day, while his son, Jack B. Weil, and grandson, Steve Weil, run the show. They’re best-known for their snap-front shirts, but have started offering silk scarves as neckties with designs from works by such artists as Donna Howell Sickles.

Rockmount began retailing shirts from the downtown location a couple of years ago and now touring musicians as well as downtown office workers can pick up a shirt or hat.

Rockmount Ranch Wear, 1626 Wazee St., 303-629-7777;

The Denver Post Thursday, January 22, 2004

Council to mayor: Can it!
Local charities reap benefit of officials' friendly food fight
By Mark P. Couch
Denver Post Staff Writer

A friendly competition between Denver's elected leaders to collect canned goods for local charities has erupted in a food fight at city hall.

Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero launched the campaign last month by challenging the mayor's office to a can-collecting duel.

But the final tally of which group - the City Council or the mayor's staff - collected the most food has boiled down to a war of words.

The council collected 1,340 pounds of canned goods and other nonperishable boxed foods, while the mayor's office claimed 2,086 pounds.

Westword December 18th 2003
Off Limits

He's gone country
Calling Alan Jackson!

If ever clothes made the man, it's apparent in the makeover of new Denver City Council representative-at-large Doug Linkhart.

We mean no disrespect. We're fond of the councilman known as "Leftie Linkhart," as fellow makeover victim Charlie Brown (Off Limits, December 11) swears the other council reps refer to the former state legislator. But his suits and ties? Bo-o-oring, with a capital B. No style, no flair, no panache. He could just as easily be selling real estate or pushing insurance as organizing the city. But put a cowboy hat on that man, and he out-Charlie Browns Charlie Brown, the man who has vowed to get other councilmembers dressing more Western.

We never thought we'd say it, but Linkhart looks hot! We'd jump the man behind Jumpstart, the city's new economic push. Suddenly that smile seems oh, so slyly Marlboro Man. He looks like "a man of vision" out of Lonesome Dove, not just another glad-handing politician. And the jeans certainly show off his 33-inch waist and other, ahem, assets a helluva lot better than a suit coat and slacks. Hell, we're thinking he'd even get some wolf whistles on the rodeo circuit!

That wouldn't surprise Steve Weil, the third-generation owner of Rockmount Ranch Wear. Founded in the '40s by Jack A. Weil, who first put snap buttons on Western shirts and still comes to work every day at the age of 102, Rockmount recently added a retail store. That's where Steve Weil engineered Linkhart's transformation from city slicker to range rider, a businessman who's singlehandedly trying to "make the world safe for Western wear."

"You don't have to dress up like Howdy Doody to be part of the Western lifestyle," Weil says. "It's for people who have the personal security of who they are and what kind of image they wish to project. I learned this a long time ago from GQ: The beauty of Western fashion is that it can be the whole deal or just an accent."

In jeans, fiery yellow boots, buttery suede fringe jacket and vintage purple snap-down with floral embroidery, Linkhart went whole hog. And he wore it all well -- no surprise, really, because Linkhart's originally from Tucson, where, he likes to report, people are given a full week off from work during the city's world-famous rodeo.

Linkhart's certainly not the first celeb to get the Rockmount treatment. The LoDo headquarters is full of pictures of stars such as Bruce Springsteen wearing Rockmount garb. Locally, the boys of Davis, Graham & Stubbs are regulars, and John Hickenlooper got his belts from Weil (no hats, though, since Hick's "not a hat kind of guy," according to Weil) before he even considered running for mayor. And once he did, Weil had some thoughts about that, too.

"I told the mayor he needs to dress in a way that reflects Denver," says Weil. "This is also true for the councilmen.
We are not J Crew. This is not the East Coast. We have our own identity. The beauty of the Western ethos is that it appeals to both the people from here and people moving here. We lost our identity there for a while, particularly during the early '80s. People are celebrating it now."

Lest those people celebrate it a little too heartily, Weil offers these words of wisdom:

1. You're always safe with classics. Good Western wear is classic. It does not bounce around like a Ping-Pong ball from season to season.
2. For public times, don't wear the whole getup at once. Think accents, not Howdy Doody.
3. Western belts are good anytime. Coordinate them with your outfit rather than always wearing black.

Linkhart listened closely to Weil, just as he would to any constituent. "I almost bought a few things," he says. "If I'd had any money, I probably would have. I've got to go back. I've got some Western wear, but I don't wear it that often. I liked that blue shirt, and I like boots, except that they hurt. I'd rather be barefoot."

But he'll be back in the saddle at the January 5 city council meeting, where all the representatives are supposed to dress Western in honor of the National Western Stock Show, which begins that Friday. "As part of the economic forums I held, one of the recommendations was to get people to wear Western wear during the Stock Show," Linkhart says. "So we probably will encourage that as part of the Stock Show being here. Anything we can do to enhance the value of an activity like that to help our economy is good. I don't think Denver's as much of a cowtown as it used to be, but a little more Western wear can't hurt."

Spoken like a true cowboy. You'd better watch out, Charlie Brown.

Meanwhile, any ladies whose hearts were set aflutter over Linkhart's makeover can settle down: He's happily married to Dorothy Norbie, aide to councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie. But that doesn't mean you can't get in the councilman's pants. Here in the Off Limits office, we have a pair of 33-34s worn by ol' Leftie for his photo shoot. Want them? Send us a compelling reason why you need his jeans, and they could be yours. And while you're setting the keyboard on fire, Off Limits is taking nominations for our next makeover victim. Send any and all suggestions to

Denver rocks: It's been relatively quiet at Red Rocks Amphitheatre since October, when John Tesh closed the concert season with the sound of Muzak. But there's been plenty of noise surrounding the place's burgeoning product line. On Monday, the city's Office of Art, Culture & Film threw a bash to dedicate A Thread Through History, Academy Award winner Donna Dewey's documentary on Red Rocks, as well as eight public artworks commissioned for the million-dollar Red Rocks Visitor Center, which opened this past spring. Carved in Stone, a live compilation of cuts culled from Red Rocks performances of yore, has been a steady seller at music retailers city-wide, and the companion book, Red Rocks: From Dinosaurs to Rock 'N Roll, is a nice piece of memorabilia dedicated to the Morrison venue and park.

It's also a nice piece of memorabilia that shows how fast things can change in Denver, since the press run was split to allow the welcome from then-mayor Wellington Webb to be replaced with a more generic greeting page that would have a longer shelf life. Beyond Webb, the slender volume of historical information and archival photographs (some of which were not shot on the Rocks, by the way) name-checks everyone from the Diplodocus, beast of the Jurassic era, to Gregg Allman, beast of the modern era. (We love the title's double-entendre dinosaur reference.) A project launched by Fabby Hillyard, former director of Denver's Division of Theatres and Arenas, and Erik Dyce, the department's marketing maven, Red Rocks was penned by local historian Tom Noel, George Krieger -- "a dentist addicted to rock and roll" -- and G. Brown, the former Denver Post music critic who was ousted for plagiarism in November. (Unlike Webb, it wasn't possible to remove Brown's contribution from the book.)

Too bad the eagle-eyed reader who caught G. Brown's latest -- and last -- Post slip wasn't hired to proof the commemorative plaques in the Visitor Center. Because among the typos blasted into posterity in the celebratory sandstone are listings for Buddy Buy (we're assuming that was supposed to be Buddy Guy, who first appeared at Red Rocks in June 1997) and Stevie Ray Vaughn (the late, and much misspelled, master guitarist Vaughan played the park shortly before his death in August 1990).

We can only hope that -- for the sake of the spellchecker, at least -- Me'Shell NdegéOcello never takes the stage in Morrison.

Ted-wetters: The year's not quite over, but winner of the best marketing campaign in 2003 has to be Ted. No, not the campaign touting United Airlines' new discount airline, but Colorado Ski & Golf's look-alike ads in the Denver dailies that mock United's efforts with messages like "Ted...Skier or Snowboarder?"

"We've had tremendous fun and response," says Kat Jobanputra of Specialty Sports, Colorado Ski & Golf's parent company. "But nothing from United." Then again, Specialty's founders know just what's in a name: They're Ken and John Gart, scions of the family that started the Gart Bros. chain -- and whose flagship store on Broadway still bears that name, even though the Garts sold the company years ago. | originally published: December 18, 2003

KBDI Channel 12, Denver
Jan 2, 2004

Political Panel Discussion

left:  Aaron Harber, Alison Taylor - marketing maven, Jake Schroeder - Lead Singer, Opie Gone Bad,
Steve Weil - Rockmount, Louis Johnson - comedian

December 18, 2003

102-year-old Denver Man Remembers His First Airplane Flight
By Penny Parker
Rocky Mountain News Columnist

Wednesday's 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight brought back a fond first-flight memory for 102-year-old Denverite Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Papa Jack, as third-generation Rockmount wrangler Steven Weil calls him, took his first flight in 1930 aboard a two-seater Stinson Detroiter mail plane from Billings to Denver. The airport in Billings was - and still is - up on a butte overlooking the Yellowstone River.

"Papa Jack asked the pilot, 'What happens if this thing don't take off?' " Steven said. "The pilot said, 'The river would break the fall.' "

At one point in the flight, the pilot pointed out the Crow Indian Reservation below. "Papa Jack slid open the window to see better, and his glasses flew off," Steven said.

The plane made three pit stops (Sheridan, Casper and Cheyenne) to refuel. "At the Cheyenne stop he called my grandmother, Bea, to meet him at the airfield in 30 minutes," Steven said.

"Bea said, 'Don't drive so fast. If you drive 110 miles in 30 minutes you'll kill yourself.' "

BIG BANG: Two fireworks shows will light up the sky above the 16th Street Mall on New Year's Eve. The identical shows, at 9 p.m. and midnight, will blast off from two sites along the mall and run for 12 minutes.
The shows, mostly financed by downtown hotels, aim to bring big business to restaurants and hotels. You can find dining and lodging info at

HE'S GOT HEART: Following a command performance at the Arizona Heart Hospital, piano man Gene Johnson is back tickling the ivories at Maggiano's Little Italy in the Tech Center. Johnson, who suffered a heart attack while vacationing in Phoenix in October, is back at work with the blessing of his Denver cardiologist. The piano man performs from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

SNAPSHOT: Denver-based photographer Rich Clarkson is the poster boy for Nikon cameras. In the January-February issue of American Photo Magazine, on newsstands now, Clarkson is caught in a two-page ad for the camera company. The layout includes the shutterbug's famous photo of Olympic diver Greg Louganis knocking his noggin on the diving board during the 1988 Olympics.

THE SEEN: The Colorado Symphony Chorus spontaneously singing Christmas songs and entertaining dazzled diners at Josephina's in Larimer Square Saturday night.

MUSICAL NOTE: Soulful singer Lou Rawls kicks off the new year in his first appearance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Jan. 2 and 3. Tickets start at $12; call 303-893-4100 or visit www.colora

DOINGS: Radio sports talker Lou From Littleton will be joined by injured Bronco Steve Beuerlein for the annual auction fund-raiser for Samaritan House during a live broadcast from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday on 950-AM The Fan.

You can bid on sports memorabilia at More information: 303-294-0241.

EAVESDROPPING on two women at The Palm: "Your glue gun has more miles on it than your Jag."

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Listen to her on Scott Redmond's radio show at 4:45 p.m. Fridays on KHOW- AM (630). Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail parkerp@Rocky

Friday, December 12, 2003

Denver man bags a Mantle home-run ball
By Dick Kreck
Denver Post Columnist

Going, going, gone: Marshall Fogel scored. The Denver attorney came away from the New York City auction of
Mickey Mantle memorabilia for "only" $25,000. "I bought one of his home-run balls, number 532," says Fogel,
who owns a Mantle jersey and glove. Mantle, the Yankees slugger who died in 1995, hit 536 homers in his career.
Is 532 special? "Any of them are, because of who he is. It's a treasure." (The tater came off California Angel
George Brunet on Aug. 12, 1968.) Top of the auction food chain was Mantle's 1957 MVP Award, which netted $275,000.
The auction of 300 items, conducted by Guernsey's at Madison Square Garden on Monday, raised $3.25 million
for Mantle's widow and two sons. Fogel is awaiting his prize. Even at 25,000 big ones, he says,
"it's a better investment than the stock market."

Calling all blabbers
Ever want to be producer of a TV show? Here's your chance.
Aaron Harber, affable host of Channel 12's "Aaron Harber Show," is looking for help for his New Year's Resolution show.
His last show of the season tapes Monday and he wants the public to nominate four people "who might be fun to
have on the show, people people would like to see." He's open to all. You try booking a whole season of
interesting people who can talk. No shouters, please. "In the TV world, they like wrestling matches.
I've always gone a different route." I have a few who aren't regulars on the talk-show circuit: actor John Ashton,
hotel flack Susan Stiff, nightclub owner David Clamage, federal Judge John Kane, pub owner Chris Black and
cowboy-shirt maker Steve Weil. Send your suggestions to Harber at his website,"

Try to keep Mayor Hick at bay.

.... Quotable: "The world is divided into people who think they are right." - Anonymous.
Dick Kreck's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He may be reached at 303-820-1456

The big boxes take a hit...

THE DENVER POST Thursday November 20, 2003
guest commentary

Colorado's Economic Realities
By Steve Weil

The New York Times ran a story headlined "Winners and Losers, Economically Speaking" on Nov. 9, rating Colorado with Mississippi as having one of the five worst economies in the nation.

The Rocky Mountain News on Nov. 15 stated that bankruptcies are up 24 percent this year in Colorado. And The Denver Post editorial of Nov. 16, "The Sour side of subsidies," drove the message home: We have serious problems that will get worse unless we address the challenges faced by our existing business base.

Denver's mayor has done more for the city in his first 100 days than other mayors have done in their entire tenure. However, a subsidy to Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the world, would be a blot on an otherwise stellar record. The city's argument is that the Alameda Square site is 40 percent vacant and needs to be redeveloped. It is unacceptable that the city is willing to sacrifice several businesses that occupy the remaining 60 percent of the site.

Furthermore, we have a 25 percent to 40 percent commercial vacancy rate in Denver, depending on the area. So a 40 percent vacancy on Alameda Square fits local economic conditions.

The argument that the ends justify the means is a dangerous threat to a free market. The fallacy in the city's thinking is that the subsidies will be repaid by tax revenue. This ignores the cold reality that Wal-Mart is a neutron bomb that decimates the local small business base, leaving the shell of their buildings and a lost way of life for thousands.

How many pharmacies, small groceries, pet stores, sports and clothing retailers close around the epicenter of every new Wal-Mart? If you want a global village where the only retailer is Wal-Mart or other multinational big boxes, then you will love the generic-homogenous product range made in third-world countries.

Let's look at what can be done to support the real source of economic development: small business. Most economic growth in terms of employment and consumer-purchasing multipliers comes from small businesses, not large ones. Let's support our locally owned firms and make it attractive for some to open or expand at Alameda Square and elsewhere.

Finally, we need to look at the property-tax burden on businesses. We have a constitutional mess created by the Gallagher Amendment. No city leader had any idea of the unfair burden it now places on businesses, small or large. Our taxes at Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. went up 33 percent this year, and 20 percent the year before. This is the largest increase we have ever seen in 60 years.

In the 20 years since voters passed the Gallagher amendment, the disparity between commercial and residential property taxes has swelled to the point that businesses pay almost four times more property tax than for a residence worth the same amount. Property is property. This system is unfair, detrimental to job creation and in need of change. The problem is especially unfair when you consider that commercial property is only 25 percent of the total real estate base.

This is not a big-business issue. It is an employment issue. It is a consumer-cost issue. Property taxes are a cost of doing business that must be figured in the prices set by businesses. My company's tax increase means we cannot hire new staff, and there is less profit to share with existing staff. It cripples our ability to invest in our business. We are not alone.

Additionally, downtown businesses pay an assessment to maintain the area. This has gone up 200 percent in three years. Despite the fact that lofts are a major portion of the buildings downtown, they pay nothing toward this maintenance on the same streets they occupy. How fair is that?

So instead of wooing corporate villains with subsidies, let's do some good for those who have carried the load all along. Also, we need to fix the constitutional tax disaster and restore a structure that does not arbitrarily cause huge increases with every assessment. What is fair for homeowners likewise should be fair to businesses.

Steve Weil is vice president of Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. in downtown Denver.


November 15, 2003
By Penny Parker

BOYS IN THE BAND: Lucinda Williams band members lassoed a corral's worth of shirts, boots, belts and T-shirts from Rockmount Ranchwear in LoDo before the concert. "I knew them from when they worked for Dwight Yoakum, and they have stayed in touch whenever they come to Denver," said Steve Weil, Rockmount's third generation Western wear wrangler.

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday.

Amend. 32 garners business backing Initiative alters property-tax ratio

Mike McPhee, Denver Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2003 -

Some Denver-area businesses have put their time and money in support of Amendment 32, a statewide ballot initiative that would alter property taxes.

"This is not a business-versus- homeowner issue. This is for the economic health of Denver," said Steve Weil, whose family has owned a 30,000-square-foot building on Wazee Street since 1946.

But the measure has drawn its share of high-profile opponents as well. Gov. Bill Owens on Wednesday declared his opposition to the property tax change in a radio address.

"I'm going to oppose the referendum, it's 32," Owens told a caller. "Referendum 32 would in fact lead to higher taxes."

And state House Majority Leader Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, claims it won't do much to solve the state's fiscal woes.

The statewide measure would effectively gut the Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982. Gallagher forces owners of commercial property to pay 55 percent of the state's property tax bill, which the owners say is grossly unfair. Amendment 32 would eliminate the 55 percent commercial, 45 percent residential tax ratio.

It also would freeze the assessment rate of residential property at 8 percent. The assessment rate is the percentage of a property's market value that assessors can tax. When Gallagher became law, the residential assessment rate was about 21 percent. It has steadily dropped to the current rate of 7.96 percent in order for residential taxes to remain at 45 percent of the total. Commercial property is assessed at the permanent rate of 29 percent.

Weil, vice president of Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co. in Denver, goes so far as to claim that Gallagher is hurting the entire economy because it forces businesses to raise prices.

"If you work, live or shop in Denver, you now have to pay more because of Gallagher," he said. "I can't hire more staff because my taxes have gone up 50 percent in the past two years. I had plans to reconfigure my business, which I can't. The economic health of the community is being hurt by Gallagher."

But some Amendment 32 opponents say it not only won't solve the state's fiscal problems, it will result in tax increases.

"I don't think you can solve the state's current fiscal situation in light of looking at just fixing the residential assessment rate at 8 percent," King said.

"It will save some money out of the state education fund, but it doesn't solve the more complex issues."

Tom Clark of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce claims that the imbalance between residential and commercial properties has grown to an unacceptable level because it now is affecting funding for public education.


In a campaign contribution report filed Wednesday, the supporters of Amendment 32, Citizens for Property Tax Reform, reported another $10,000 in contributions.

Contributors include the Colorado Municipal Bond Dealers, $2,500; Colorado Association of School Executives, $2,500; and Special District Association, $5,000.

Opponents of Amendment 32, Coloradoans for Fairness in Taxation, reported an additional $1,160 in contributions, including a $250 donation from former state representative Ruth Wright.

Property taxes are used almost exclusively for funding public education. But school funding is mandated to grow annually at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent. As school budgets have grown faster than property tax revenues, the difference by law must be made up from the state's general fund, a process known as "backfilling." When Gallagher was passed, property taxes paid roughly 60 percent of the funding for education, and the remaining 40 percent was "backfilled." Today, property taxes pay about 40 percent, and the remaining 60 percent is "backfilled."

"Residential property owners have enjoyed a $7 billion tax break since Gallagher was passed in 1982," the chamber's Clark said.

Charlie Wooley's St. Charles Town Co. is one of the largest renovators of historic commercial property in Denver, including the Equitable Building at 17th and Stout streets.

"As a downtown guy, our business environment is not so much large headquarters as it is small businesses. Our average (commercial condo owner) has about 4,000 square feet," Wooley said. "Most of them have had tax increases of about 250 percent in the past few years. One guy in the Equitable had his taxes jump $500 a month for a 2,000-square-foot condo. A big part of it is because of Gallagher."

The Denver Post, Tues Oct. 28, 2003

Amendment 32 will save overtaxed businesses
Re: "Vote 'no' on Amendment 32," Oct. 19 editorial.

As a local businessman, I could not be more disappointed with The Post's decision not to support Amendment 32, a freeze on commercial property rates. Granted, this amendment is a temporary stop measure when what is needed is a complete reworking of the constitutional mess created by the Gallagher and TABOR amendments. However, no one is taking action and we need relief immediately.

The taxes on my company's building went up more than 30 percent this year, 50 percent in two years. This is the worst increase we have faced in 60 years.

We are an endangered species. Do you wonder why there are only three of the original wholesale commercial businesses left in lower downtown?

Running any business has gotten a lot harder, and excessive taxes have made it worse, particularly downtown. If you want more generic, minimum-wage-paying chains, just raise the taxes and watch more colorful local businesses die.

This is not natural selection of the marketplace. The 1982 Gallagher Amendment is a badly conceived law that we were bamboozled into thinking was a good thing at the time to cap residential property taxes during a period of rising property values.

Taxes on commercial property, assessed at 29 percent of market value, have risen about 400 percent in 20 years. Meanwhile, residential assessment rates declined from 21 percent to 8 percent. Gallagher's intentions were partly good, but the consequences have been disastrous. Twenty years later, it is crippling our economic health and prospects for future growth. Gallagher is not simply bad for existing businesses, it is bad for future ones, too. Is this going to help attract businesses to Colorado?

Under Amendment 32, commercial property will continue to be taxed at a much higher level than residential, but the difference will not get any worse.

The writer is vice president of Rockmount Ranch Wear.

THE DENVER POST, Tuesday October 28, 2003
Western Fantasy Gala

Steve Weil of Denver's ROCKMOUNT RANCH WEAR
is with wife Wendy, who wears a newly reissued
shirt from ROCKMOUNT's 1954 line

A high-kicking fashion roundup

by Suzanne S. Brown, Denver Post Fashion Editor

Fringe by the yard, suede that clung to every curve, hand-tooled boots and fancy beaver hats were a few of the ways guests at Saturday's Western Fantasy gala interpreted the invitation's request to dress in "elegant Western attire."

The event is in its 10th year, and during that decade, Denverites have learned how to gussy up for a good time and good cause - Western Fantasy has raised $12 million for Volunteers of America.

Some of Saturday's 1,200 partygoers saw it as an occasion to dress in costume, while others merely took a dressier take on clothes they wear every day.
Most of the outfit ogling took place during the reception that preceded the dinner, auction and performance by Jo Dee Messina at the Western Events Center.

Stylish socialites such as Carylyn Bell, Annabel Bowlen and Holly Kylberg had their cowboy couturier Gabriel Conroy whip them up some outfits. Bell's was in hand-painted Ultrasuede, Bowlen's long ivory gown was embroidered with roses, and Kylberg's top and pants were accented with handpainted metallic lace.

Pants outfits were favored by Neiman Marcus honchos Christel Dikeman and Nancy Sagar, both in figure-hugging suede; and Qwest's Joni Baird, who wore an ivory jacket and pants with cutwork and beading.

Those who don't typically dress Western have learned the power of accessories. In her white fringed Monique Lhuillier dress, Valere Shane could have glided through any cocktail party, but with a white cowboy hat and boots, she was stylishly riding the range. Jean Galloway confessed that she's not much of a cowgirl - even though she co-founded the gala 10 years ago with Sharon Magness - but with a bold turquoise necklace accessorizing her black St. John and Escada outfit, she fit right in. "This necklace is very special because it was a gift from Sharon," Galloway said.

"Something old, something new, something borrowed..." might be a phrase usually applied to wedding attire, but it also an apt description of what gala-goers wore. John Huggins, Denver's new eonomic development director, sported a vintage H Bar C jacket with white embroidery, and a bolo tie he bought in Idaho Springs, while his stylish wife Patricia wore a Robert Danes top and skirt.

It's all about having fun, said Rollie Jordan, who dug into her closet and found a vintage Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress that looked more saloon girl than gunslinger. Perfect for a night that was about kicking up your heels.

Suzanne S. Brown is fashion editor of The Denver Post. Call her at 303-820-1697 or e-mail


October 10, 2003

HOLLYWOOD HICK: Before John Hickenlooper jetted to La-La land for the premiere of the movie Veronica Guerin (his wife, Helen -Thorpe, wrote the story that became the screenplay), the mayor shot a scene Tuesday for the John Sayles' movie Silver City filming here. Hickenlooper and Stephen Montez, host of Channel 12's Colorado OutSpoken, taped for three hours at Washington Park.

SILVER CITY TURNS SHIRTS TO GOLD: Rockmount Ranchwear, the LoDo-based Western wear manufacturer, has a starring role of sorts in Silver City.

Sayles and his live-in love and producer Maggie Renzi scouted LoDo's oldest clothier for duds for dudes and dudettes in the political thriller.

Chris Cooper (Seabiscuit) wears a dressy cotton blue herringbone in Rockmount's signature vintage quarter horse design with sloping pockets. His silver bear claw bolo is also by Rockmount.

Penny Parker's column appears Tuesday through Saturday. Call her at 303-892-5224 or e-mail

The Denver Post
Oct 5, 2003

Bill Husted Column

City Spirit
After a late lunch at Il Fornaio, Kiss Rocker Gene Simmons dropped into ROCKMOUNT RANCH WEAR LoDo Wednesday with
Playboy's Miss October, his Denver galpal Audra Lynn.

He got the leather shirt, she got the leopard velour number.

Colorado Matters on Rockmount Shirts
Colorado Public Radio,
Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2003

Rockmount Shirts
Steve Weil with Denver’s Rockmount Ranchwear talks about the family company that was founded nearly 60 years ago. (First broadcast Jan. 15, 2003.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Western Design Saddles Up
Fashions, furnishings on view in Wyoming

From deerskin to denim and rawhide to wrought-iron, Western-style fashions and furnishings will be given a high-end howdy this week at the 11th annual Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyo.

More than a dozen Coloradans will be among the roughly 70 artisans represented in the event's juried exhibition, which showcases some of the finest Western-style furniture, apparel, jewelry, lighting and home accessories now on the market.

The conference, which runs Wednesday through Saturday, also includes a runway fashion show, a tour of the historic home of Buffalo Bill, and seminars taught by nationally known architects and interior designers. It's timed to coincide with a benefit art show and sale also taking place this weekend at Cody's renowned Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

This year's conference is the first to be presented under the auspices of the new Western Interiors and Design magazine, a glossy bimonthly whose owners bought out the financially struggling operation last March - just two months before the event's founder, Cody furniture maker Mike Patrick, was killed in a car crash.

Conference director Thea Marx says the magazine's involvement, together with national sponsorships by SAR Furniture and Sikorsky Helicopters, should heighten interest in the event among designers, architects, collectors and craftspeople.

The Colorado exhibitors include fashion designers Steve Weil of Denver and Deborah Davis and Stephen Sanders of Steamboat Springs, jeweler Karl Hoffman of Craig, potter Tim Preston of Greeley, metalsmith Will Kohler of Boulder and furniture makers Christina Chapman and David Struempler of Carbondale, Peter Lynn of Alma, Gary Burditt of Fort Collins, Pat Olson of Grand Junction, Greg Race of Leadville and Stephen Winer of Timnath.

For details on the conference, go online to or call toll-free 1-888-685-0574. For information on the Buffalo Bill art show and sale, go to or call 307-587-5002.


Clothes Make the Mayor

Memo to: John Hickenlooper, mayor elect Re: Polished politician fashion tips

Dear John,

Congratulations on your victory in Denver's recent mayoral race. We're sure the election will bring with it scads of advice from your constituents, but we'd like to be the first to bring you some guidance from the fashion front.

Word has it that you own one good suit, and frankly, that's just not gonna cut it. You're going to need several ensembles to get you through a wide range of events, so we asked some local retailers to help get you started.

As Steve Weil of Denver-based Rockmount Ranch Wear points out, what you wear reflects on the city, and in turn, the city should reflect on what you wear. "Choose things that don't wear you," Weil says. "Classic is always good."

And don't worry, we'll get rid of that self-described "geek" status in no time.

Hickenlooper, it's time to dress for success.

Photos by Ellen Jaskol © News, Styling by Tobie Orr

Event: Stock Show, Western Fantasy or other Western soirees.

Clothier: Rockmount Ranch Wear, 1626 Wazee St.

Advice: "When off duty, denim is comfortable, as are plaids," Steve Weil says. For public times, though, don't wear the whole get-up at once.

"Think accents, not Howdy Doody," he says.

"No big hat. You are not a hat kind of guy. However, hats are great gifts for visiting dignitaries."

And Western belts are good accents any time. "You already wear a Rockmount belt. Is this your only belt? It was OK pre-mayor, but now you need two as coordinates: brown and black," Weil says.

Ensemble: Rockmount tie ($26.50), plaid shirt ($60), and belt ($31.50)

Shirt on their backs

Dick Kreck's column, 4/9/03

It took 60 years to go retail and another year to be open on Saturdays but things are happening fast at Rockmount Ranch Wear in LoDo.

Founder Jack A. Weil celebrated his 102nd birthday on Sunday, and grandson Steve is co-authoring a book on the history of the cowboy shirt.

Not to mention that Steve and his father, Jack B., recently completed a family transaction to acquire the company's 1908 building at 1626 Wazee St., opened as a wholesale western wear outlet in 1946 by the eldest Weil.

Steve's book, tentatively titled "A Shirt Story," is being written with his long-time pal Dan DeWeese and will cover cowshirts from the 1930s forward, and not just those made by Rockmount.

"What I'm looking for are stills of movie cowboys since the '30s," said Weil, who has photographed more than 300 shirts around the world and is staring at a June deadline.

Why the book? Steve told his son, Colter, who is 5 and the next in the Weil line to join the company, "We've got a little history here, and we're going to put it into words. We didn't think of it as historical, but it's become historical."

Dick Kreck's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He may be reached at 303-820-1456 or

Western wear tips its hat to the world
Denver show corrals international buyers

By Suzanne S. Brown
Denver Post Fashion Editor

Tuesday, January 14, 2003 - They are line dancing in Singapore, wearing Stetsons in Sydney, shaking their fringed suede jackets in Trieste and showing off Indian jewelry in Osaka.

Post / Glenn Asakawa
J. Ram, right, stocks his Singapore store JR Texas with western wear from the Denver market. Here, he inspects a Rockmount Ranchwear shirt with company vice president Steve Weil.

Fans of the American cowboy are not confined to the rodeos and ranches of the West, judging from a sampling of retailers in town for Denver International Western/English Apparel and Equipment Market, which ends a five-day run today at the Denver Merchandise Mart.

While there are other Western apparel and equipment markets, Denver can claim the most exhibitors and an equally large number of attendees placing orders for goods that will be delivered to stores dotting the globe this fall.

More than 7,000 buyers from the United States and 34 countries annually attend the market.

"Buyers tell us this is the only place to see all the new fashion items, as well as equipment," said Bill Shackleford, president of Western English Sales Association, the organization that has produced the market since 1922.

This year, 214 foreign buyers pre-registered for the show. Canada and England sent the most buyers, with 39 and 14 respectively, while Switzerland, Germany and Japan each sent a dozen or more.

"We're seeing an interest from the Europeans in the shooter market," Shackleford said, "guys shooting from horseback. We're also finding an increase in interest in the English riding market."

Carol and Phillip Hirst, who own Hooked on Country ( on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, have been attending the Denver market for five years.

They say their customers like line dancing to country western music and want to wear Western clothing when they dance. Shady Brady hats, popularized by actress Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride," Roper and Wahmaker shirts and Cattle Kate clothing are among the brands they carry, Carol Hirst said.

"We want it to say 'Made in America' on the label, because it's more authentic, but it's getting harder to find," she added.

That's because manufacturing has increasingly moved to countries where labor is cheaper than in the United States.

Foreign attendance at the Denver market fluctuates, depending on how well a country's currency is trading against the American dollar, as well as such things as individual quotas, tariffs and trade policies, Shackleford said.

But even when a country's economy has been challenging, as Japan's has been for several years, there's still a demand for cowboy accoutrements, said Nobu Hirota, who owns a store called Johnny Angel in Osaka.

Hirota first came to the United States in search of vintage clothing. He now orders new items and works with manufacturers to produce exclusives, such as shantung silk Western-cut shirts and Western-styled bowling shirts. He also travels to New Mexico in search of Chimayo blanket jackets and Native American jewelry.

Another set of Japanese buyers was looking for Western souvenirs and gifts, as well as apparel for the shop they operate in a Tokyo theme park. Teruo Saiki ordered dozens of silver charms from the Siskiyou Gift Co., in feather and wolf motifs.

Post / Glenn Asakawa
Teruo Saiki, left, ordered dozens of silver charms in feather and wolf motifs for the shop he operates in a Tokyo theme park. Saiki said Western boots and apparel items are popular with Japanese teens, who mix them with other styles of clothing rather than wearing a head-to-toe Western ensemble.

In Singapore, people want to buy hats, boots and everything in between, said J. Ram, whose JR Texas store has been catering to cowboys there for 20 years. He said the store's name comes from his initials and has no connection to J.R. Ewing, the Texas ranch owner fictionalized in the long-running "Dallas" television show.

"People go to parties, dinners and dances and like to dress up," Ram said as he shopped for shirts at Rockmount Ranchwear.

Stefano DePonte has a business called American Western Store ( in Trieste, in northeast Italy.

He calls Western style "a passion I have had since I was a child." His interest wasn't spurred by a certain Western movie or music, but from the freedom the style represents. Visiting Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Yellowstone National Park on his honeymoon made him even more convinced to open a store.

"People said I was crazy; there are no horses or cowboys (in Trieste)," DePonte said. But he wasn't deterred, and 10 years later he has three businesses - one that sells clothing, another that sells boots and a third with motorcycle merchandise.

Among the brands DePonte was shopping for in Denver: vintage-look shirts at Rockmount, rugged outerwear from Panhandle Slim, Wrangler jeans, Montana Silversmith jewelry and Stetson hats.

Glenys and Terry Donohue are also fans of Western hats. They own Just Country, a distribution company that supplies apparel to more than 400 stores in Australia and New Zealand.

With 4 3/4-inch crowns and 4-inch brims, Stetsons are the top hats with cowboys down under, Terry Donahue said. Rockies clothing, Ariat footwear, gifts and home items were also on their shopping list this year.

Aussies might have a rugged appeal all their own, but according to Donahue, the American cowboy continues to ride high.

"Whatever is happening in the United States is what people want to wear in Australia," he said.

Suzanne S. Brown is fashion editor of The Denver Post. Email her at

Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2002
by Leslie Kennedy, Fashion Editor

Actors and musicians have been wearing Rockmount clothes for years, but with the opening of the Denver company's first retail store, stars are stopping by to pick up a few things for themselves.

For nearly 60 years, LoDo's Rockmount, the country's oldest snap western shirt company, was only open for wholesale.

"People have been walking in for years and we sent them to the closest store," says Steve Weil, Rockmount vice president. "Now, there is no Western store convenient to downtown so we needed to respond."

Recently, director Robert M. Young and actors Xander Berkeley (Shanghai Noon, Air Force One) and Robert Knott (Pollack), in town filming Below The Belt, stopped by to purchase several shirts, straw hats and jackets.

Other celebs spotted in Rockmount: Bob Dylan, Robert Redford, Jeff and Beau Bridges, Alan Jackson and Aidan Quinn.

By Suzanne Brown
Denver Post Fashion Editor

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Back at the ranch, musicians and movie stars have been stopping by the LoDo headquarters of Rockmount Ranch Wear before hitting the stage this summer. Last week, before heading for Colorado Springs and his annual Westfest concerts, Michael Martin Murphey picked up a shadow plaid shirt, a denim one and a style in vintage gabardine with a piped yoke. Singer, songwriter and rancher Joni Harms also brought her singing pals R.W. Hampton and Mickey Dawes in to shop for shirts, silk ties and scarves. They were in Colorado to perform and promote their new album, "Real West."

Another recent visitor to Rockmount, at 1626 Wazee St., was actor Robert Knott. In town filming "Below The Belt," Knott stopped by to purchase several Rockmount shirts, a straw hat and a jean jacket. Steve Weil, Rockmount's vice president for marketing, says he recognized Knott from his recent role as Ed Harris' brother in "Pollack". On a break from the New Deal Pictures project, Knott and director Robert M. Young visited the shop two weeks earlier and had coffee with Jack A. Weil, the company's 101-year-old founder.

Cowboy fashion

Western clothier says turning customers away isn't fitting any more

By Rachel Brand, Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Walking into the offices of Denver's Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. is like stepping into cowboy history.

Vintage Western shirts made by the company decorate the walls. The shirts were salvaged by third-generation Rockmount owner Steve Weil from thrift stores across the country. Hundred-year-old hand-tooled leather saddles line the hall, as do bull-horns, steer antlers and photos of Gene Autry wearing the company's signature embroidered yellow shirt.

The Western clothing manufacturer claims to have contributed the snaps on Western shirts, the bolo tie and the smile, or "slash," pocket to cowboy fashion history. Even Bob Dylan wore a Rockmount shirt on the cover of his Grammy-winning album, Love and Theft. Through innovation and quality, the firm has survived half a century in its offices on 1626 Wazee St. while similar companies have gone bankrupt.

Although Western wear retailers have long carried Rockmount's line, until recently, passersby couldn't buy a shirt at the company's museum-like offices in LoDo.

But more important, he says in order to keep this label alive, "We have to roll with the flow." It defies logic that company would turn customers away. But for years when visitors stopped in, the manufacturer stuck by its guns. If you wanted a shirt, you'd best visit a nearby Western wear store, owners said. But as decades passed, the number of retail outlets shrank. "There used to be 5,000 stores that carried Western wear," Weil said. "(But now) in many communities there are no more." Weil estimates the number of stores carrying Rockmount Ranch Wear at 2,000.

Then came the Web. Customers around the world send the company e-mails when they hear its lore. Inquiries blossom when Rockmount is featured in fashion magazines such as Marie Claire. Customers can order from the Web site, although many would prefer to try on the garments first at a store.

For Steve Weil, it's just horse sense: "Running a business in 2002 is not the same as it was 50 years ago," he said. "We're a niche. We need to satisfy each and every customer who wants our product, one way or another."
March 5, 2002

copy by photo:
Marie Clarie , March 2002 "American Beauty" fashion feature with ROCKMOUNT hat "Cowboy Magic #1870

Bob Dylan wearing Rockmount Pink Gabardine shirt in connection with his just released album "Love & Theft", Denver Post, 10-19-2001



Jack A. Weil, Founder, Rockmount Ranch Wear, driving to work:
"My first car was a model T Ford..."


Jack A. Weil walking into Rockmount building:
"I'm not as spry as I was 50 years ago..but I manage.

Gina London, Denver


Jack A. Weil:
"if a guy got his shirt hooked on the horn of his saddle, with a button and a button hole, he'd get dragged... but the snap would break away and get loose..."


Jack A. Weil showing various Rockmount bolos:
"I called it a Bola because bola in Portuguese means lariat...but I didn't write very plain and it came out "bolo". This was the beginning of the bolo ties."


Jack A. Weil:
"The reason you could ride three across in a pickup! (laughs)

Shot of 3 generation of Weils: Jack A., Jack B., Steve

Jack A. Weil:
"The secret is you have to have something that is different from run of the mill...
you have to be somewhat of a ham, to tell you the truth...

Gina London:
"Are you?

Jack A. Weil:
"well, I'm afraid so..."

Gina London:

Gina London, CNN, DENVER

Back to top

Rockmount Ranch Wear Ropes In Clients by Bucking Retail Trendiness
Apparel: Jack A. Weil, 100, is still king of the cowboy-clothes makers. Upholding tradition is key.

Sunday, April 1, 2001
Los Angeles Times (Orange County Edition)
Section: Business
Page: C-9
by Colleen Long

From Associated Press

DENVER -- Jack A. Weil is a baron of the West.
Instead of running a vast cattle ranch, Weil runs his empire from a five-story, careworn brick building in trendy lower downtown, surrounded by upscale restaurants and nightclubs.
For nearly 50 years, the founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear has manufactured clothing emblematic of the Old West, including the first shirt that closed with snaps and bolo ties.
On a gray spring day, Weil, his son and grandson, all Rockmount executives, bickered playfully in an office covered in material swatches, ties, silver, hats and the famous snap shirt. Celebrity photos, saddles and vintage Rockmount gear line the walls.
As they stood together, three generations of Western design stood with them--Jack A. Weil with his traditional plaid saw-toothed shirt, son Jack B. Weil in a brownish rough cotton shirt with "smile" pockets, and grandson Steve with embroidery around his sea-green shirt.
Jack A. Weil, who turned 100 Wednesday, leaned back in his chair, wearing a plaid rayon shirt with diamond-shaped snaps, a silver-dollar bolo tie that dates to the year he was born, and cowboy boots.
His wrinkled hands tugged at his cowboy hat as he summed up Rockmount's history. "People want to wear something unique. And we provide it," said Weil. "The idea never ages."
His traditional clothing line has remained a consistent seller, despite newer design trends, said Mark Nowlen, who owns three Western stores, one each in Texas, Florida and Colorado.
"Their product has stayed true to Western fashion when other Western companies went for trends," he said.
Born in Evansville, Ind., Jack A. Weil started his career in 1928 as a salesman, peddling men's garters and other latex products. He opted for a territory that stretched from El Paso to the Canadian border.
He arrived in Denver in the 1930s in a Chrysler Roadster, and soon began helping his friend Phil Miller, who owned Miller-Stockman, sell cowboy hats. Miller persuaded Weil to market and design shirts.
"I learned fast you can't sell to cowboys; they have no money. You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone and sell to them," he said.
After World War II, Weil bought metal snap buttons to add to his signature shirts.
"People ask me why I never patented any of these things. Well, when I created them, a patent wasn't worth anything unless you spent millions of dollars in court," Weil said. "And people know our merchandise is the real thing. That's why they buy it."
Today, his privately owned company has 200 employees, with five factories scattered throughout the United States. The company sells shirts, bolo ties and hats to about 1,500 retailers around the world.
"We just started carrying their shirts a few weeks ago," said Kristine Dellavechio, who works at Sunneshine, a swanky Boulder, Colo., boutique. "The cowboy look is in again, and the shirts sell pretty well considering we don't sell anything else like it."
The Weils believe they have created a true American style, offering shirts in different materials and patterns, even a Hawaiian print.
Their traditional cotton diamond-snap shirt with saw-toothed pockets has the same impact on Western-wear shirt consumers as do Levi's 501s on would-be cowboy jeans' buyers, said Steve Weil, who oversees designing and marketing. Their shirts have been worn by Dennis Quaid, Jodie Foster and Bruce Springsteen.
Steve Weil said Robert Redford specifically requested Rockmount shirts for the movie, "The Horse Whisperer."
The price of a shirt has gone from about $2 in the 1940s to more than $55 today, mostly because the Weils refuse to manufacture overseas.
Business is steady, but the Weils decline to specify sales figures. "More companies are selling lower-quality clothing, and we don't. It really helps to do things right," Steve Weil said.
Rockmount remains the only wholesale clothing company in downtown Denver.
Because costs have increased, Steve Weil recently decided to rent one floor as office space and put a garage in the basement.
"We started right here because my grandfather loves this city, and we'll stay here because that's where our history is," Steve Weil said.

Back to top

Rocky Mountain News
March 29, 2001
Editorial Page

At 100, Weil's still working

Jack A. Weil celebrated his 100th birthday Wednesday the same way he's celebrated every other weekday he's woken up alive: He went to work at Rockmount Ranch Wear. Work is glad to have him. He founded the company in 1946 and is still president. His son Jack B. and grandson Steve are vice presidents. He gets no hints that maybe it's time to retire.

To be sure, Jack A. doesn't show up until 8 a.m. these days. Until a couple of years ago he arrived at 6:30 and opened the office. "I've slowed down," he confessed. But he still brings the doughnuts and the sweet rolls for the staff.

How does he get to the company at 1626 Wazee St. from his home at 1200 Humboldt St.? He drives himself in an old Dodge.

Weil lives by himself in a high-rise, a couple of blocks from his son, the secretary of the state Republican Party. Jack B. is 72, and his father has seconded his nomination both times he's run, promising to crack the whip if
the kid gets out of line. How can Republicans resist a line like that?

Dad walks without a cane and does his own grocery shopping and cooking. Forget the Meals on Wheels. And if you try to help him with his coat, he'll get quite insulted.

He and tobacco have had a weird history. He didn't start on cigarettes until age 40, chain smoked until 60 -- then quit when the doctor told him the habit could cause the stitches from his recent hernia operation to pop.

As for other vices, Weil doesn't play poker anymore. "I'd have to go to Fairmount to get the guys I play with," he explains.

He's a creature of habit, lunching daily at his reserved table at the Denver Athletic Club and breakfasting every Sunday with Jack B. and a friend at Pete's Kitchen on Colfax at High Street, where he orders waffles and crisp bacon.

He's got five grandchildren but they're in their 40s and long past dandling. Even the 10 great-grandkids are too big for that.

He celebrated his birthday by appearing on Good Morning America and taking calls from friends. Of course he's getting letters from fellow Republicans like Gov. Bill Owens and Colorado's two U.S. senators.

We'll draw these lessons from his life: If you like whatever it is you're doing, don't stop. And try to avoid working for other people.

Happy birthday, Jack A.

Back to Top

True Romance
How a snap decision led to a long love affair with the West.

By Patricia Calhoun
March 15, 2001
Jack A. Weil shows how the West is worn.

Jack A. Weil surveys the street outside of Rockmount Ranch Wear. He's been doing business here for 55 years, since the days when Wazee Street was lined with warehouses, shops and factories rather than restaurants and offices and lofts. The five-story Rockmount building at 1626 Wazee, built in 1908, housed a plow factory and then a drugstore before it became the headquarters of a wholesale Western-wear empire.

A great deal has changed since 1946 -- including the street's name. At the moment, it's "Jack A. Weil Boulevard," the title it acquired, at least temporarily, earlier this year to honor Jack's contributions to Denver. He's the man who showed us how the West was worn.

But while Jack is a man who understands the importance of image, a master of marketing, a peddler who knows how to sell the sizzle and the steak, even he is surprised by what's happened to this neighborhood, a neighborhood that didn't get its fancy new nickname of "LoDo" until Rockmount had been part of it for forty years. "Nobody could have foreseen what's going on down here," he says.

And Jack A. Weil has seen a great deal.

Today he's wearing his usual cowboy boots, a black-and-white Western shirt with the snap buttons that he invented, and a bolo tie featuring a shiny silver dollar dating from 1901 -- the year Jack was born in Evansville, Indiana.

His first job, back in high school in 1918, was at a factory in Chicago, inspecting Navy dungarees that would soon be shipped out to sailors fighting The Great War. Ten years later he was a salesmen for Paris Garters -- a Chicago company that offered not just men's garters, but just about anything made of latex -- when he was given the choice of trading his Memphis-based territory for a new office in Denver, covering everything from El Paso to the Canadian border. So he and his wife got in their brand-new Chrysler Roadster -- "That was a hot car," he remembers, unlike the Plymouth he drives from his home in Cheesman Park to his office five days a week -- and headed west. They drove into town from Topeka on unpaved (but graded) Highway 40, and "we fell in love with this country," he says. "To see all the wide-open space, to see the future, I knew I was home."

But Weil soon stretched far beyond the elastic business.

Along the way, he became friends with Phil Miller, who'd moved to Denver to get help for his tuberculosis, leaving brothers and a hat business back in New York. At one point those brothers sent along a load of cowboy hats that Phil was going to try to sell at the old Denver Dry, which had a spanking-new Western department in its 15th Street addition. But the hats didn't move -- not even when 25,000 Elks came to town. No marketing, Jack pointed out. "What the hell do you know about cowboy hats in Indiana?" Phil asked.

Jack knew enough to get a directory of county newspapers in Kansas, and they placed ads in a few for the Stockman Farmer Supply Company, "selling ten-dollar hats for five bucks," Jack remembers. "Sold every hat." And not just hats: Ranchers were soon asking for belts, gloves and all kinds of gear.

When Jack suggested that Phil grab the reins and manufacture his own shirts, his friend issued a challenge of his own. "I've got the money if you want to come and make the shirts," he said. And Jack, who was ready to stop traveling, did just that, taking a one-sixth ownership in Miller Stockman. "The first thing I did was get rid of the 'Farmer,'" Jack says.

Jack might not have known much about Western wear, but he knew about marketing -- and he also recognized that you couldn't make much money off of cowboys. "If they had any sense, they wouldn't have been cowboys," he points out. "But I thought there was a tremendous future in promoting this thing." So Jack went up to Cheyenne and convinced the chamber of commerce not only to link its Cheyenne Frontier Days with the Union Pacific Railroad that stopped through town twice a day, but also to fine its members when they didn't dress Western -- in a Miller Stockman shirt and hat, perhaps? -- at the proper time of year.

"I didn't know anything about the business, but I knew what I wanted," he says. "In my love for the country and its potential, I figured we had a product. I knew how I felt about it. I knew about the romance of the country."

And soon he knew about snap buttons, an innovation he added to Western shirts after the Second World War, as soon as the metal shortage eased. In 1946, Jack used those snap buttons as the basis for his own business: Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Since then, Rockmount snap-button Western shirts have been spotted on celebrities across the country and around the world. The Rockmount office is filled with photographs of people wearing the shirts -- Jodie Foster, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Hopper -- as well as original garments dating back to the '40s, some procured by Weil family friends at thrift stores. That's not all the cluttered Rockmount office holds, of course. There are also blowups of the 1988 Esquire cover featuring Bruce Springsteen in a Rockmount bolo -- "made in the USA." More bolos line the cluttered wholesale sample room, along with neckties, string ties, bandannas, hats covered with fake fur, hats made of straw, hats made of wood, belt buckles with portraits of John Wayne, belt buckles with American coins ("I knew those would go over well with people from other countries," Jack says). Hanging from the walls are still more clippings, and cards from fans around the world, and awards for Jack A. Weil: a 1986 Pioneer Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award presented in 1995, even though Jack was nowhere near done with his achievements. And there's even a signed photo of President Ronald Reagan. "When he was elected, he started talking about a 'service economy,'" Jack remembers. "I wrote back that when I was growing up in Evansville, only a hundred miles from where he grew up in Dixon, 'servicing' was what happened when we took the mare to stud."

Still, Jack's a good Republican who regularly offers the final nominating speech when Jack B. Weil, his son and a Rockmount vice president, runs for yet another position with the state Republican Party. Jack B.'s son, Steve, joined the company twenty years ago, bringing with him an MBA and marketing ideas of his own (those are his snap buttons you click on Rockmount's Web site). Steve's now pushing a plan that will help keep Rockmount -- one of lower downtown's last undeveloped warehouses, and its oldest, if not only, manufacturing company -- in officially historic LoDo. "It's our concession to changes in the neighborhood," Steve says. "It's a compromise that allows us to stay." And so the Weils are now looking for an office tenant to take over the second floor, a move that will help fund the long-term preservation of the building -- and the Weil business.

A living, breathing monument to our past, and our future.

"Everyone likes this stuff," Jack says. "It's the romance."

As the Rockmount slogan proclaims, "Styled in the West by Westerners since 1946." Even if those Westerners started out in Indiana and arrived here not on horseback, but in a hot Chrysler Roadster.

On Thursday, the sign that changed Wazee Street to Jack A. Weil Boulevard will come down, replaced by one honoring the late Dale Tooley, a Denver district attorney of the Irish persuasion. St. Patrick's Day revelers will drop by the bars that have sprung up since Jack A. came to town, and they'll eat in the fancy restaurants -- "The food's better," says Steve, "and more costly," says Jack -- and, if they have any sense at all, they'll raise their glasses and toast the old brick warehouse.

Because even if his name disappears from the signs at the end of the month, this will always be Jack A. Weil's street.

When he turned 95, Jack was honored by Denver City Council and asked what he wanted to do when he turned 100. To appear there again, he replied.

And so he'll be back in front of city council on March 26, two days before his hundredth birthday. "And what the hell," he wonders, "am I going to ask for now?"

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Rockmount Ranch Wear : Founder, Jack A Weil
by Corinne Brown

Becoming a legend in your own time is no easy feat in the manufacturing industry but Jack A. Weil, founder and CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear in Colorado, has made it look easy. After all, when you've had 85 years of experience in the same business, there's not much competition. "I came West in 1928 while working for the Paris Garter Company as a salesman," Jack A. reminisces, a far-away look in his chambray blue eyes. "Driving through Colorado with my wife Bea in our Chrysler roadster, we discovered the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. I loved the way the sun glistened off the snow-capped Rockies and the more I saw, the more I knew I wanted to stay." In a few years Weil would join forces with Phil Miller to make and sell western clothing for the company that would later become Miller Stockman. Heeding a clear difference in business philosophy, Weil however broke away to form Rockmount Ranch Wear (named after the Rocky Mountains) in 1946. That year, Jack moved his company into a vintage brick building in the heart of lower downtown Denver at 1646 Wazee. In spite of Denver's tremendous urban growth and change, the company has held on to this special landmark designed by noted architects Fisher and Fisher, maintaining a well stocked showroom and offices, plus some production space. The charming five-story building looks and feels like a veritable western museum. One glance at the photo-covered walls, antique saddle collection and colorful assembly of awards and honors bestowed upon Jack Weil and his family, and one can deduct that a rich story about 20th-century western manufacturing lies within.

Jack's father, immigrated to America from France in 1870 and settled in Indiana ,eventually going into the cattle business. Born in 1901, young Jack was no stranger to its demands. When the business he created provide him the opportunity to create a working ranch man's wardrobe, Jack believed that the cowboy could make great use of shirts with longer tails and sleeves. Furthermore, he decided to use snap fasteners on shirts instead of buttons, at that time a novel idea in the clothing industry. Jack had trouble at first finding a snap supplier that would agree to produce the snaps for him, but thanks to his perseverance, the world can credit Jack A Weil for this imminently clever solution. The snap fastener, not a fashion statement like today , but that breaks away if the shirt ever catches on a steer horn or other object, made clothing more practical. Needing a marketing gimmick to stimulate business, Weil knew he had to align more than the ranch hand to buy his product. He came up with a brilliant marketing plan targeted to western towns with major rodeos, beginning with Cheyenne's Frontier Days . "I suggested that everyone in the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce or affiliated with the rodeo should wear something western: that is, boots, hats , jeans, or a western shirt. A kangaroo court would be set up to monitor the execution of the plan, and anyone not complying with the festive dress code would be fined. The money would go to a designated charity." Amazingly, the idea caught on and theme dressing at western events took off. With Frontier Days' success, the idea spread as Rockmount Ranch Wear positioned itself firmly behind a promise to supply goods for the transformation. Jack saw the need to diversify his inventory and have something for the retailer to complete an entire wardrobe. In addition to fancy and everyday western styled shirts, Rockmount added hats, belts, bandanas and even ties, a large part of the business today. An innovative designer, Jack A. also created the first bolo tie as we know it, modifying the original design from the three-pronged closure to the sliding catch. The two simple styles first offered over 50 years ago have blossomed today to over 200 different types of bolo ties-one for every customer imaginable. From product concept to consumer need, from manufacturer to retailer, Jack A. built his product line and customer base over decades, one community and one retailer at a time, slowly developing the kind of close personal relationships that, in a world of mass merchandising, are almost unknown today.

Years ahead of the TV-Western phenomenon, Jack Weil actually helped define the look that later became so much a part of popular American culture, the western entertainment and leisure wardrobe. From the silver screen to the ranch to the home front, Western clothing eventually found its way into America's closet, bearing Rockmount's brand. The signature shirts, many with sawtooth pockets, yokes, smile pockets, and often fancy embroidery are immortalized in the photos of icons like Roy Rogers and others, right down to a contemporary roster of popular film stars who today wear Rockmount in films and off- screen. Celebrity fans include favorites like Nicholas Cage, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson and Aiden Quinn to name a few. Jack A. credits Hollywood for maintaining the popularity of western wear but adds that from his point of view, " I've always believed we were never selling just the cowboy-we were selling the romance of the West. That's so much more."

Rockmount today is led by three generations of Weils, proudly headed by Jack A, soon to celebrate his 100th birthday in March; Jack B, his son and current company President, Steven Weil, and the founder's 43 yr. old grandson. In 1952, Jack A.'s son, Jack B. came into the business for what was initially to be one year, working as a sales rep. With marriage and children, the job turned into a lifetime commitment. A creative individual with an instinct for merchandising and product development, Jack B. expanded many of his father's innovations, broadening the company's design repertoire in apparel, hats and accessories. Most importantly, also created the first western shirts for women. By using brighter colors and fabrics, he added a feminine touch and an exciting new "his and her collection" was born. In addition, Jack B saw the huge potential of the hat business, especially the straw product, and sales expanded radically under his direction. "For example," adds Jack B, "back in the Sixties, I discovered feathered bands-no one had ever made a feathered hat band before, or put one on a cowboy hat, but I loved the look. We launched it and before the trend exhausted itself we must have sold several thousand-dozen hats with these fancy bands. And with all our success and consumer demand, Rockmount continues to be primarily made in USA." By 1960, Jack B. had become the buyer for raw materials and the primary Rockmount stylist. A trend setter, not a follower, he is also a man with a tremendous appreciation for beauty and design. Well-traveled, an avid collector of Asian and contemporary art, and a talented artist himself, Jack B is leaving a special legacy which Steve Weil will continue. Today, Jack B. works less hours, enabling him to hold the esteemed position of Secretary for Colorado's Republican Party, sharing his gradually acquired free time with this and other worthy causes.

Steve Weil, the youngest leader in the company, came on board in 1981 and is a product of a rapidly changing business culture linking sales to technological innovation. At a recent company party during WESA 2001, honoring Jack's 100th birthday, Steve and Jack B. opened the evening by introducing customers of the firm from as far away as Holland, Japan, Belgium and Italy. Such international clientele are a testament to the company's staying power, the design of the products; their quality and universal appeal, and most importantly, the convenience of, and commitment to doing business in an electronic world. The revolution Steve points to started with the fax machine about fifteen years ago and has evolve even more dramatically with the Internet. He says, "we were able to speed up communications, confirm stock availability, and receive orders the same day. But the web has seen this explode now so that we can be contacted by anyone anywhere, anytime and share a wide array of information." In terms of growth and the company's position today, Steve confirms that the figures speak for themselves. Since it's inception , Rockmount has produced over several million shirts, one hats and accessories over the years. They have customers in all fifty states and most developed countries- totaling about 2500 retailers around the world. "Sales have been in a strong upward trend since May of '99," confirms Steve, possibly reflecting the success of his move to upgrading the product line and moving toward higher- end goods. "The year 2000," says Steve, "our sales were up approximately 60%. While this is a major increase, we don't expect it to last. It reflects a decline in the mid-nineties, now regained." " There is an interesting parallel in Rockmount's three generations to that of the western wear industry in general: The business was strictly regional during my grandfather's early years (the 30's and 40's) and later became national during my father's era, (the 50's through the 70's,) and has grown international during my leadership, from the 80's onward."

Jack A Weil, founder, patriarch, is an extraordinary man, approaching a century this March with dignity. He drives to work everyday and enjoys staying connected to the business. He's a spellbinding story teller with an eye for detail and a photographic memory, plus a ready laugh that is both hearty and sincere. When complimented for his sharp memory, he responded, "I have people tell me all the time that my memory is excellent. Who the hell is going to contradict me?" "My father is a self made man and very independent," states his son Jack B with a warm smile. 'He genuinely loves people. I am very glad we have both lived long enough to share this special time in our lives." When asked how this special family business has survived where statistically others have not, Jack B. did not hesitate to credit the mediating talents of his late mother Bea who was a steadying force behind the company's success. "When we weren't getting along, mom always knew how to bring us back together."

When asked precisely what he has loved most about the business all these years, founder Jack A. answered, "The type of people that we serve. Individual merchants for the most part, interested in their communities, and interested in quality." An early encounter in Jack A's career with a large chain store taught him to be wary of the big chain store and to this day, such businesses are non-existent in the company's customer base . In fact, he believed then as he does now, that the future of America lay in the small independent businessman. When asked about the secret to his success, Jack A confirmed that three major business principles have guided his business philosophy: 1) never allow any one customer to have more than 5% of the business, 2) Never set minimums, and encourage the widest selection possible 3) never play favorites--all prices are the same to everyone.

As an advice to today's new generation of western store owners, he was quick to add, "Stay with quality. Know your customer by name, and maybe even his dog's name. And buy carefully, in minimum quantities. Let your supplier carry the stock for you-no one has ever failed from not selling enough, but from buying too much." Besides his hundreds of loyal friends and customers, Jack A. is surrounded by family. His blessings add up to a son and a daughter, of five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. The Mayor of Denver recently renamed Wazee Street Jack A Weil Boulevard through March of 2001, in honor of Jacks' 100th birthday. For this spunky many of his old friends who are no longer here to celebrate with him. "It's been a satisfying life," he smiles, his eyes lighting up. " My friends are my greatest accomplishment." founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear, life is good, in spite of the fact that he misses many of his old friends who are no longer here to celebrate with him." It's been a satisfying life," he smiles, his eyes lighting up. " My friends are my greatest accomplishment." Steve, so full of respect and appreciation for the legacy he has inherited, adds this about his admirable grandfather. " Jack A's accomplishments have stood the test of time. I seek his advice often. I kid that Jack is our secret weapon and wish we could clone him. But the thing that's really different about Jack Weil. is his philosophy, his core beliefs. He refers to them every single day. And they revolve around the fact that some business people think that the dollar is almighty, but my Grandfather believes there are higher issues, both in business and in life. We make business judgments here that might not always be the most profitable, but too us, especially through his eyes, they seem proper and right. " Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Jack A. Weil-truly, a legend in your own time.

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JANUARY 11, 2001
Romancing the West

Western clothier Jack A. Weil puts his brand on Wazee Street
By Mark Wolf, News Staff Writer

Jack A. Weil, founder and president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, sits at a crowded desk waiting for a customer to return a phone call.

He works within roping distance of his son, Jack B., and within branding distance of his grandson, Steve. Both are vice presidents in the tri-generational family Western-wear manufacturing business.

The founder will work until about 2 p.m., run errands, then home. It's not the 10 to 12 hours that once were his norm.

Then again, it's more of a workday than your average 99-year-old puts in. And it begins every morning when he drives himself to work. (Continued below)

Jack A. Weil
president, Rockmount Ranch Wear
Age: 99
Family: A son, Jack B. Weil, and a daughter, Jane Romberg of Steamboat Springs, five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren.
On retirement: "I think I'm retired now when I work four or five hours a day instead of 10 or 12 hours."
On longevity: "My father lived to be 91. My genes are good. I was athletic as a kid. I grew up in a town with a lot of Germans, and there were several turnvereins (gymnasiums). I didn't smoke until I was 40, and I quit when I was 60."
Honored: He received the first Pioneer Award from the Western/English Retailers Association. He will be honored for his contributions to the industry Friday during the Denver International Western/English Apparel and Equipment Market, an international wholesale trade show that begins Friday at the Denver Merchandise Mart.

"How else do you think I'd get here?" retorts the man who turns 100 on March 28.

There was a time in his life when an automotive commute seemed downright suspicious.

"My father was in the cattle business and we had a horse and buggy," he said. "We'd ride beside the river to cool off, and here would come one of those horseless carriages with a spare tire. My father would say, `I never needed a spare leg for my horses.' "

His father was an immigrant from France, and a copy of his naturalization certificate hangs on the wall in Jack Weil's office.

Leaving the family spread near Evansville, Ind., he entered the business world and worked for the A. Stein company out of Chicago, selling Paris Garters in several Midwestern cities before the company sent him West in 1928. He and his late wife, Bea, drove a Chrysler Roadster (serial number 33) out old U.S. 40, arriving on the outskirts of Denver on a sunny day.

"I saw the afternoon sun shining on the Rocky Mountains and turned and said to my wife, `This is it.' Denver was a great city, about 200,000 people. There were cops on the corners directing traffic," he said.

Weil opened an A. Stein office on Champa Street with a newfangled neon sign that flashed "Garters" and "Suspenders." By 1932 he'd partnered with Phil Miller in the Western-apparel company that eventually would become Miller Stockman. He left in 1946 to form Rockmount, intent on making distinctive, high-quality wear for ranchers and cowboys.

"They wore overalls when they worked, but they wanted colorful stuff when they came to town," he said.

Weil began to put snaps on his Rockmount shirts instead of buttons.

"It was a breakaway," he said. "If your shirt got caught on the saddle, the snaps would let you loose."

The innovation caught on, but he realized his market had to expand beyond working ranch hands.

"The cowboy business wasn't an industry," he said. "There wasn't enough of them, and they didn't make enough money. They'd come to town, get drunk and the next month do it again. I felt there was a market from Middle Westerners and Easterners and we could take advantage of the popularity of Western movies. In the East you had to make it casual wear. I saw an opportunity to make a difference."

He had shrewd marketing and promotion ideas for the Western look.

"I thought the market was rodeos. I went to Cheyenne and talked to the Chamber of Commerce and said they had to dress everybody up Western (for Frontier Days). If they didn't dress up, they could have a kangaroo court, fine them and give the money to charity," he said during his daily lunch at a corner table of The Tavern in the Denver Athletic Club, where he sips ginger ale from a wine glass.

Stories from the old days bubble up, told with a ready laugh.

There was the time when a man from Biloxi, Miss., found himself in possession of a lot in Denver and wanted to trade it for a saddle.

"It was out on Ninth Avenue, a block from Monaco. Three of us said we'd trade a $250 saddle for it," he said.

And there's the set of longhorns displayed prominently in the showroom. Jack B., who joined the business in 1954 and is secretary of the Colorado Republican party, took them to settle a debt from a merchant in Oklahoma.

He said he started the style of rolling up the sides of cowboy hats "so four cowboys could sit side by side in a pickup."

"You can deduce that I like this business," he said. "You could make more money at something else. I'm humble and thankful I had this opportunity and that I had the acumen to take advantage of it."

Rockmount's shirts, skirts, hats, bolo ties, belts and other Western wear are sold at more than 2,500 stores in the United States and around the world, from swanky shops on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to small-town clothiers. They have been worn by actors in numerous movies, including Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer, Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan in Flesh and Bone, Nicolas Cage in Red Rock West and Aidan Quinn in Practical Magic, and by musicians as diverse as Bruce Springsteen and Loretta Lynn.

The company has been in its Wazee Street headquarters since its opening in 1946. What is now trendy LoDo -- Rockmount sits next to Mongolian Barbecue and across the street from Il Fornaio -- was once a wholesale and warehouse district.

Wazee Street has been renamed Jack A. Weil Boulevard through March to commemorate the longevity of both the founder and the business. Rockmount is committed to staying in its historic 1908 building and recently put the building's second floor on the office rental market.

Jack A. has always been mechanically minded. He bought an automated billing machine back in the 1950s and today works on a desktop computer. If there's a business disagreement with someone, the founder has the trump card: "I tell them I was in the business before they were born and I'll be in the business after they're gone."

Many years ago, he told a reporter: "The West is not a geographic location. It's a state of mind."

And it's firmly Jack A. Weil's state of mind.

"There's a feeling in the West of youth, new country, the possibility of expansion and growth.

"To me, coming to Colorado was a romance."

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Combining classic, new wears well at Rockmount
By Suzanne S. Brown
Denver Post Staff Writer

Jan. 10, 2001 - The Weil family of Denver is as enduring as the snapfront shirts and bolo ties they've been manufacturing for 55 years under the Rockmount Ranch Wear label.

This week at their LoDo headquarters, they're preparing the lines they'll show at the Western apparel and equipment wholesale market, which starts Saturday at the Denver Merchandise Mart. Buyers from hundreds of stores throughout the United States and Europe will find some new things in the line, such as microfleece shirts and silk scarves, but much of what they'll see is classic Rockmount: cotton shirts with "sawtooth pockets," wool hats and silk ties.

They'll be greeted by company founder and president Jack A. Weil, who will be 100 years old in March and who still comes to the office every day; his son, Jack B. Weil (who won't divulge his age), vice president; and grandson Steve Weil, 43, vice president and merchandiser of the line.

Before and after market, you'll find the Weils and their 20 employees at 1626 Wazee St., the 1908 brick building they've occupied since 1946 and owned since 1961. To walk through its doors is to step back in time. Shirts from various eras hang from wood paneling. Posters and magazine clippings of actors and musicians wearing Rockmount goods are tacked to the walls.

A set of creaky stairs in the back leads to the sample room on the third floor and warehouse space on the fourth and fifth floors. The second floor is vacant, awaiting a tenant whose lease will help the younger Weils afford to buy the building from the rest of the family.

Even though the warehouses that used to share the block with Rockmount have largely been replaced by trendy restaurants and expensive lofts, Rockmount plans to stay put. "This building is kind of like the ranch," Steve Weil says. "We feel the same way about it that a ranching family might feel about their land. It's our home."

"You have to like this business," says Jack A., who's trying not to make a fuss out of the attention he's getting for his 100th birthday (Wazee is being temporarily renamed Weil Street for the occasion). "Other endeavors would be much more lucrative, but this is what we live, eat and sleep. We have our friends, and what the hell else is there?" Go west, young man

Weil first came West in 1928 as a salesman for the Paris Garter Co. of Chicago. He and his wife drove to Colorado in his Chrysler roadster. "When we got to the Eastern Plains and I saw those mountains with snow on them, I loved it," he says. "The more we drove around, the more I was enthralled." His territory covered all the Western states except California. After a few years, he joined forces with Phil Miller to make and sell Western clothing for the company that would later become Miller Stockman. Weil started Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. (the name was a simple abbreviation of Rocky Mountains) in 1946, after deciding that cowboys would appreciate having shirts with special yokes, longer tails and snap fasteners. He had trouble persuading a company to manufacture snaps for shirts but finally got his way. His business savvy went beyond creating the iconic Western shirt; he found ways to promote it throughout the West by meeting with merchants and chambers of commerce. "I told them that every merchant should be wearing something Western during rodeo season and those who didn't should have a penalty assessed in kangaroo court that they'd give to charity," Weil says.

Weil credits Hollywood for keeping Western wear at the forefront of popular culture. "The concept we're selling is not cowboys, it's the feeling of the West and the romance of it," he says. The business took off in the 1960s, when many Americans enjoyed Western vacations and visit ed dude ranches. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, Jack B. Weil came home and agreed to spend a year in the family business before striking out on his own. To his surprise, he found that he liked Rockmount, and when he subsequently married and had children, he decided to stay with it. Whereas Jack senior built the business throughout the West, Jack B. expanded it east. Within a couple of years, he began styling the line as well. He added ruffles to women's shirts, created "companion" outfits that featured the same fabrics for men and women and built the company's tie business.

"As my father has often said, there are a certain number of people who would like to be cowboys or gentleman ranchers. We will never be Coca-Cola, but if we are on the ball and can figure out what people like, we'll be in business," he says.

The task of deciding what people want has now passed on to the third generation and Steve Weil, who's savvy about design and popular culture.

"It's wrong to characterize Western as one narrow market, because the business is made up of a broad range of customers," Steve says. "There are the core horse people, the Western business people, the truck drivers and the visionaries." "Something for everybody" The latter category encompasses actors, musicians and fashion leaders such as Madonna, who set trends that others follow.

What do these various groups have in common? "Deep down, I believe the appeal is to the individual," Weil says. "Western has had the longest run in American fashion of any look because there's something for everybody." When he was starting in the business in the early 1980s, Weil loved rediscovering the early Western styles, with their smile pockets and gabardine fabrics. He returned some of those styles to the line, introduced the relaxed fit shirt that appeals to baby boomers, and expanded the business to Europe and Asia.

He also readily admits that what Rockmount sells isn't necessarily what's doing well throughout the industry. "Our necktie business has been a good area," Steve says. "What we've figured out is that boring neckties aren't doing well, but fun ones are." He has commissioned Western designs from such artists as David Parker, and the resulting silk ties "stand up to museum and consumer standards; it's a creative mix." For spring, the company is adding silk scarves.

In the almost two decades he's been at Rockmount, Weil has seen trends come and go, and he says business is emerging from a slump that began at the end of the 1990s. "We are really fortunate that business has improved substantially over the past 18 months. It was hard up to that point." Experience has taught him that "consumers are choosy," and for Rockmount to succeed "we make it a very definite point to do something different from everyone else, because the overall marketplace is inundated with clones." But he makes it a point not to stray too far from Rockmount's roots. "I hope I'm building on stuff that my father and grandfather have done. There's a strong continuity in our family, our design and how we run our business." And that suits customers like Nathalie Kent, who owns Nathalie, a store on Canyon Road in Santa Fe.

"They sell like hotcakes," Kent says of Rockmount styles she carries for men, women and children. "I like the fact that they are traditional. The real cowboy likes them and so does the wannabe cowboy.

"I could go to France with a suitcase full of them and sell them all," says Kent, a native of France.

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Jack Weil Blvd.

Bill Husted
Denver Post Columnist

Jan. 9, 2001 - SIGNS: Jack A. Weil turns 100 in March - and today Mayor WWebb changes the name of Wazee Street to Weil Street. Weil has been on Wazee Street since 1946 making Rockmount Ranch Wear - and now he's joined by his son Jack B. and grandson Steve. Fifty-five years on the same street making the same stuff qualifies Jack A. as the Legend of LoDo. He still goes to work every morning, lunches at the DAC, Weil then back to work, to the bank at 2:30 p.m., then home for a nap. They'll change the street sign at 2:30 today, then Jack A. can take that nap. "I think it's a lot to do about very little," Jack A. says. "But do you think we'll still get our mail?"

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Equestrian Retailer

Oct/Nov. 1999
by, Dan Deweese


Rockmount, which claims to have been the first shirt maker to use snaps on production run shirts on the 1940's, reports that snaps are, have been, and always will be the mainstay of their business, according to Steve Weil, vice president of Rockmount.

"Snaps have always been the dominant feature in Rockmount's shirt line," Weil says. "We have done button shirts over the years, but they have been a minor part of our business."

Weil says that his snap-shirt sales have been steady throughout the last decade when other western manufacturers promoted buttons over snaps. "It never ceases to amaze me when a customer is looking for snaps.' As far as Rockmount is concerned, snaps have always been the major part of our business, so we don't see them going up and down. We see them as very, very consistent over many years.

"For 40 years, virtually all men's western shirts featured snaps," Weil says. "Snap buttons on western shirts began to lose favor in the early 1980s. Now they are riding a new wave of popularity driven by three identifiable consumer groups: Hispanics, core western lifestyle consumers, and trendy, young urbanites...."

"We've demonstrated at Rockmount that you can do dress shirts with snaps very well," Weil says of the upgrade trend. "That's a very strong part of our line - fine cottons with snaps. We offer high-count cottons that were only available in very expensive designer lines prior to our adopting them...."

"Our shirt business is very steady," Weil adds. "I think because we are well established in our market, we don't see the cycles become life-or death issues. We certainly see trends, both up and down, but we're still doing it after all these years because it's selling."

...Weil's points seem to be reinforced by snap sales at Scovill Fasteners, the largest domestic supplier of snaps to western manufacturers. Sales have been fairly flat since the end of the Urban Cowboy boom, according to Jack Champagne, executive vice president at Scovill Fasteners. "It's not the same as it was when John Travolta was parading around in fancy cowboy shirts," he says. "It was a fashion thing back then; everybody had a couple of snap shirts."

Snap shirts, first worn by singing cowboys in movies 60 or 70 years ago, have been the unsung heros of the western shirt industry. They've provided a steady, solid sales base for western retailers who paid heed to the identities and need of their customers.

With a little nurturing, this stalwart fashion feature is helping western regain some of its unique character - it might also help western sales restore some of its lost glitter.

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Equestrian Retailer

Oct/Nov. 1999
by, Dan Deweese

"Who put the SNAP in western shirts?"

There are several claims as to who was first with snaps but, more than any other major shirt maker today, Rockmount Ranch Wear is identified with snaps. Jack A. Weil, founder and president of the Denver-based manufacturer, began using snaps on shirts at the conclusion of World War II when metal was no longer rationed. His grandson, Steve Weil, asserts that Rockmount was first to "commercially" produce snap shirts.

According to Weil, his grandfather put snaps on shirts "to distinguish western shirts from conventional shirts." The innovation helped secure Western as a distinct apparel category. Until the 1930's, "there was no Western shirt on the market to speak of." Weil says. Working cowboys and ranchers wore the same denim or twill work shirts worn by factory and construction workers. Western evolved with practical adaptations to ordinary work wear. New treatments like snaps, yolks, barrel cuffs, and a slimmer, more tailored fit distinguished western shirts from conventional shirts.

"The first western shirts were different because they were tailored and slim fitting with yokes and pocket flaps," Weil says. "Those features, along with the snaps, are what distinguished western shirts from conventional shirts. The snaps came after the other features. The snaps were probably the last innovation in the design that distinguished it fully from anything that was out there."

Rockmount is also known for its diamond-shaped snaps. Weil says the diamond shape is a virtual exclusive for Rockmount. "You have to have special equipment, which Rockmount has," Weil explains. "It's much easier to put a round snap on than a diamond. You need different equipment for each shape.

A different version of the origin of snaps has it that H Bar C introduced snaps to shirts, a claim strongly denied by Steve Weil. "Rockmount made H Bar C's first shirts," he claims. "They were in the pants business and came to us to make shirts for them, which we did in our Pennsylvania factory. They had never made western shirts prior to that. Apparently they had some kind of riding shirts that were made in England, but they were primarily a pant company until the '50s. We made the first shirts for them in the '40s...."

The true origins of snaps on western shirts may be apocryphal, but their importance to the development of an identifiably unique western shirt category cannot be denied.

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Gentlemen's Quarterly

February 1997
by, Scott Omellianuk

"The Cowboy Way" (Photo of our shirt) For city slickers, less of the West is more

I never really liked western wear. Ran from it like Colonel Wilton Parmenter and the rest of F troop ran from Cochise.

It's the memories from the last time it was popular - the '70s - that did it. Of Robert Conrad jumping, tumbling, slugging his way through reruns of The Wild, Wild West and looking, in his tight pants and short, keister-revealing jacket, like a matador who went derecho instead of izquierda at the bull fight and ended up in the pages of Blueboy magazine.

Of John Travolta in Urban Cowboy, gamboling through Houston like he'd spent a lifetime in the saddle but opening his mouth to say - not in a Texas twang but in a Jersey twung - things like "Shee~yit."

And one memory much closer to home. Like in my childhood living room. That recollection is of my not very western old man sitting on his very eastern couch late at night listening to Hank Williams do his thirty-three-rpm coyote howl about cheatin' hearts, while he - Dad - lazed there in his plaid, yoked, mother- of-pearl - buttoned shirt, tooled leather belt with the requisite big buckle, boot-cut jeans and pointy-toed cowboy boots (which, you know, he really didn't need to ride the '72 Eldorado that was his regular mount) and kept time on a beer bottle and muttered things like "Shee~yit."

I do not know how to explain the getup that Conrad wore in the TV show, though dollars to doughnuts it had something to do with a confused, possibly gender-conflicted guy in wardrobe. Travolta and the old man, well, that's easier. The way they dressed was all because of the Marlboro man.

Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with the Man, per se. His an icon for the most successful ad campaign in history. He convinced millions that his brand of smokes could offer you, me - anyone - his lifestyle: the great American lifestyle. The lanky saunter, the outdoor office and, unfortunately, the right to dress in head-to-toe cowboy kit of tough leather boots, indestructible jeans, those bronco-busting shirts, suede jackets and dusters and ten-gallon Stetsons.

Don't get me wrong. Such a uniform (a visual lexicon of our frontier history, really) is fine if you're out there punchin' dogies, riding the range and manifesting destiny. It is the only outfit to wear if you're eating hardtack and chuckwagon beans and growling things like "Let's whistle up the dogs and piss on the fire." And also, "Shee~yit."

But the Marlboro Man's costume is not fine if you're not the Marlboro Man, if, instead, you are Travolta or the old man or the thousands of others who have been similarly geographically and/or professionally challenged. If, that is, you are not a cowboy. Think about it. When a stylish but wholly civilian guy wears one of those currently popular military-cut shirts, he doesn't match it with a helmet, combat boots, cargo pants and flak vest. And when a homey shrugs on a Carhartt work jacket, he doesn't feel the need to do, like, the full Mr. Goodwrench.

The key - John, Dad - to wearing western wear, now that it's popular again, is to use that same restraint. To apply the anti-Roy Rogers corollary of the Marlboro Man philosophy. To wit, never - unless your best friend is named trigger - wear more than one (or perhaps two) pieces of western wear at any one time.

That means putting on a pair of Wrangler's original Cowboy Cut jeans (which celebrate a fiftieth anniversary this year and are a must-have for working ranch hands) with cowboy boots but not a cowboy shirt. Try a crewneck sweater instead. Or you could wear Rockmount Ranch Wear's Sawtooth diamond~snap~front shirt trousers, no boots, no Stetson. Or, if you prefer less than the real deal, there's plenty of cowboy-inspired designer gear from Diesel and Replay and Lucky, all of it honest enough for non-cowboys and something I'd be proud to see the old man wear.

Saddle up with one of those modified rigs and you're recognizing our frontier heritage without looking like Fess Parker. You're cloaking yourself in western mystique without looking like a mistake. Try it; pull on the sawtooth. Now take a look in the mirror. Go ahead. Say it "Shee~yit."

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The New York Times

April 18,1993
by, Phil Patton

"The Dude Is Back In Town"

The new dude style is lead by a generation of younger designers, like Katy K, who have begun to flourish somewhere between the traditional Western suppliers, like Rockmount, and mainstream apparel houses. Western styles have shown up in lines from DKNY and Ellen Tracy. Hot Sox now offers designs with the patterns found on a spotted steer, a pinto horse and a red bandana....

"1946 Jack A. Weil founds Rockmount Western Wear in Denver, introduces the first commercially produced snaps on western shirts."

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Western & English Sales Assoc.

WESA Daily
January 14, 1994

Is it Rockmount or Hollymount?

Rockmount may not have gone Hollywood, but Hollywood has definitely gone Rockmount.

Rockmount announced that several new movies have prominently featured shirts by the company, including the new HBO film Red Rock West starring Nicholas Cage and Dennis Quaid, also features a Rockmount classic gabardine shirt with diamond snaps.

Steve Weil, Rockmount vice president, says "this kind of exposure is good for Rockmount and the industry" since films tend to be harbingers of style for years to come.

The company was also featured in print. Lodestar Books in their recently released book Ranch Dressing: The Story of Western Wear included information about the company and the Weil family, which pioneered the western snap shirt. The author, Dr. Jean Greenlaw will be at Rockmount showrooms F51-53 on January 16 to sign copies.

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Colorado Business

October, 1993
by Sally Ruth Bourrie

"Saluting Family Business" (Photo use photo from story w/ 3 gen)

ROCKMOUNT RANCH WEAR Mfg. Co. "The success of any long-lasting business is the Golden Rule," says Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co.'s founder, 92-year-old Jack Weil, who still opens the office every day. "We'd like to be the kind of outfit that you'd like to do business with."

Founded in 1946, today Rockmount sells to 3,200 retailers in all 50 United States, along with merchants in Canada, Europe, and Asia. Those who wear Rockmount range from Loretta Lynn to Bruce Springsteen.

Weil began his Western wear career in 1935, a partner with Phil Miller (of what would become the Denver area's Miller Stockman Western-wear stores). At that time, what we know as Western wear essentially didn't exist, Weil explains: Cowboys wore overalls and work shirts. To get ideas for commercial products, Weil went to the movies, studying the custom-made garb of Tom Mix and Gene Autry.

Eleven years later, he'd grown increasingly frustrated with mainstream merchandisers: "Penny's, Wards and Sears wouldn't let you make a good product," Weil claims, "They'd always want something cheaper every year."

At Rockmount, he decided, "We didn't have to be the biggest, we had to be the best." The former Paris Garter salesman from Indiana established his company on three principles: · Never let any customer account for more than 3 percent of the business. "I never wanted to lose a customer, but I never wanted to bleed if I did," Weil says. · Never dictate to a customer how many of an item to buy. "If they needed all big sizes, they could have them; if they wanted all red, that's what they got." Rockmount's shirts were among the first to be packaged in individual bags. · No matter how big the customer, no discounting -- one price to everybody, Weil explains, "so that the hometown merchants could make a reasonable mark-up on a top quality product without fear of being undersold."

Weil always has put his long-time, loyal Western-wear merchandisers first, rather than going for the quick buck whenever Western became flavor-of-the-month. Simply surviving the "Urban Cowboy" aftermath was an achievement; even the classic hat maker Stetson filed for bankruptcy.

Weil is best known for adding snaps to Western-style shirts, which previously had used only buttons. Though he initially met with resistance, the style took off -- and so did Rockmount. The Weils believe that, as an American fashion, Western wear should be made in the United States. "We may well be the only significant size company in our industry that's 100 percent American-made," says grandson Steve Weil.

Son Jack B. Weil entered Rockmount after his 1954 Army discharge and has done most of the firm's designing since 1960. Grandson Steve, who more recently began styling - introduced fabrics like denim, and relaxed fit cuts.

"In the past several years, Steven has come up with things I would never have done and they've worked out very well so it's important to have new blood and new ideas," says Jack B.

Another key to Rockmount's survival, says grandson Steve, who holds an MBA as well as a law degree, is fiscal conservatism. "We borrow very little, if anything," the grandson says. "We're self-financed and we don't bet the ranch - ever."

"We pay for everything we buy," says the founding Weil, Jack A. "As we felt we could pay for expansion, we did it. We grew on the basis of retained earnings."

Though the elder Weil "fell in love with the Western way of life" when he came to Denver in 1928, he's fond of saying that the West "isn't a place, it's a state of mind." Either way, it's been a great romance for all three generations of Weils.

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Jan. 1986

"Rockmount earns trademark rights for shirt cuff tab"

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Rockmount Ranch Wear a trademark for the cuff tabs on its shirts.

Since 1975, Rockmount has been labeling all shirts with a half-inch square, navy blue tab featuring the company's corporate brand. Sewn into the seam where cuff joins sleeve, the tab was originally designed by Jack Weil Jr., national sales manager as a means of distinguishing his company's shirts from those of others.

In its October 1985 ruling, the patent office recognized Rockmount as being the first to use and develop this type of label. It determined that the Rockmount tag position was a distinguishing characteristic and worthy of being awarded a trademark.

According to Steve Weil, executive officer of Rockmount, the only other apparel industry trademark known to the company is the one Levi Strauss & Company holds for the back pocket label on its lines of pants. Levi's legal department assisted Rockmount since both companies had a common interest in fighting trademark infringements.

In a lengthy process, Rockmount first filed an application for trademark rights in June, 1982. Its lawyer submitted research demonstrating that the cuff tab had been recognized by consumers who could identify Rockmount's shirts being worn by actors on television shows and in movies and by entertainers on record albums. The company was notified of its new rights in November.

"Our trademark specifically states that we have the trademark right to any label position sewn into the cuff of a shirt, whether long-sleeved or short," said Steve Weil.

This gives Rockmount legal recourse when trademark infringements occur. Two companies have already stopped using similar labels upon learning of Rockmount's new rights to the position.

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Feb. 1986

"Jack Weil honored by WERA"

Jack A. Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear holds the WERA "Pioneer Award" and a signed photograph of Ronald Reagan. The photo and accompanying letter from Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldridge were arranged and presented by Scovill, Apparel Fasteners Group. Baldridge was CEO of Scovill before joining the Reagan administration. The Reagan photograph was presented by Charles E. "Ed" Harris of Scovill.

DENVER - Justin Boot Co. and Jack A. Weil, founder and president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, Denver, were both honored during a breakfast meeting here during the Western/English Retailers of America (WERA) Conference, January 3-6.

John Justin was on hand to accept the WERA "Award for Leadership" on behalf of the Fort Worth-based boot manufacturing company. Justin is president of Justin Industries, of which Justin Boot is a division. Justin Boot is the third recipient of the "Al". The award consists of a bronze statue and is awarded to companies, groups of individuals who have worked for the betterment of the industry.

Jack A. Weil was also presented with a statue as the first recipient of the "Pioneer Award." Weil founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946. He still heads the family-run clothing manufacturing business in Denver.

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