Two iconic outdoor Michigan brands have decided to join forces for the cold season. Launched in fall 2019, a co-branded clothing collection created by Merrell and Stormy Kromer became available to consumers just in time for the cooler Michigan weather.
With both companies named after their storied founders and focused on the outdoors, their product offerings differ in that Rockford-based Merrell has an emphasis on trail wear, while Ironwood-based Stormy Kromer focuses on American-made, handcrafted apparel items.
Gina Jacquart Thorsen, president of Stormy Kromer, said she met Kelly Ballou, Merrell’s senior director of brand marketing, through a mutual friend. They both admired the products, reputations and shared values of their companies, and when timing was right, the co-branding partnership was born.
The well-curated collection includes footwear, outerwear and, of course, the classic Stormy Kromer cap. Merrell built the footwear and outerwear while Stormy Kromer produced the custom plaid fabric and cap.
“Our inspiration (for the collection) was what it’s like to live in Michigan, and the fall launch coincided with this,” Ballou said. “The items in the collection represent an intersection of fashionable and function through a new lens.”
To help make the collection fresh and visually cohesive, the designs were built around Stormy Kromer’s core plaid reimagined in black and gray with a pop of Merrell’s heritage cobalt blue color. The new custom plaid fabric is featured throughout the collection. The “Merrell blue” color also appears as contrast trim, stitching and laces in the footwear and cap. According to Thorsen, the blue color was important to this Michigan-inspired collection as it relates to “Michigan’s water, cold winters and great lakes.”
Depending on inventory, these items are available on each company’s website (merrell.com, stormykromer.com) as well as through select retailers in and outside Michigan. The future of the items or the possibility of newly developed items will depend on the success and demand for items in this collection, according to Ballou and Thorsen.
“It was apparent that our two brands were meant to meet and launch this collection together,” Ballou said. “I’m really excited for consumers to learn about it and two Michigan brands collaborating.” ≈
— Tracy Donohue, Michigan BLUE Magazine.
*Photography courtesy Merrell