Inspired by the post-World War II generation of trailblazing outdoor gear and apparel creators, a new pool of design, manufacturing and retail talent emerged between the late 1950s and late 1970s. To a person, this second generation of pioneers strove to create unique gear and make the public more aware of the joy of outdoor pursuits. Either by coincidence or luck, their work was aided by three important national developments.
Early in his term in office, President John Kennedy encouraged the American public to get outdoors and recreate for good health and to do it with “viggah.” His remarks sparked a growing interest in recreation that was further enhanced by the second development — the successful American ascent of Mount Everest in 1963. Suddenly, a majority of Americans were aware of climbing and expeditions, both of which were previously considered things only Europeans engaged in.
The last development was a revolution of sorts that started in Eugene, Ore., but would quickly become a nationwide sensation. Initially fostered by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and later by writer and running guru Jim Fixx, it was the running — or, as Bowerman preferred to call it, jogging — movement. In a short time, thousands of Americans were out running, and as a result, many of them discovered backpacking, hiking and other outdoor pursuits as alternatives to stay fit.
Against this background, the market for outdoor gear and apparel started to grow and foster a new set of movers and shakers.