In this installment of “Flylords Behind the Brand” we sat down with the great folks at Twelve Weight to chat about how they have grown in the fly fishing apparel space and why their gear is built to perform on the water, in the mountains and all along the way!
Flylords: Let’s start with the name, where did Twelve Weight story begin?
The goal has always been to build a unique brand with high quality products. We also positioned sun protection at our core. Regarding the name, the 12WT rod seemed like the perfect analogy (a specialized piece of equipment) for our concept. The tarpon naturally emerged as an iconic symbol for the brand. There is more to the story but that’s the abridged version.
Flylords: What was your motive around building a niche apparel company in the fly fishing space?
The founders and key team members are all avid fly fishermen–always have been. At this point, the brand is propped up by a group that loves being on the water. I think the motive was simple. We love to fish and fly fishing is somewhat underserved from an apparel perspective. For most larger brands it’s a small off-shoot department. We thought, let’s make it our focus and give it everything we’ve got.
Flylords: Tell us about the time that goes into each collection? Where do your product ideas come from?
We’re big on utilitarianism and bold simplicity, probably because the team is very design heavy. Function before aesthetics is important to and helps guide our decisions. At its core fly fishing is very simple actively, people may over complicate it with gadgets, but at the end of the day, you’re throwing hair on a hook and fighting fish on light tackle. It’s pure sport and we want our clothing to feel the same way. Easy and natural but details are important. We pull our inspiration from nature and the outdoors. The team is made up of surfers, skateboarders, artists, designers, and all-around adventurous spirits so I’d say we pull a good amount of inspo from those activities as well.
Flylords: How has the brand evolved over the last decade?
Honestly, the evolution doesn’t seem all that dramatic. The team has grown. We’re a lot like a family. We are not focused on growth so much as having fun and loving what we do. We hope our products can bring that same joy to people who wear them. The collection continues to evolve as we add new products, but it’s definitely a slow and steady game. We just released the cotton collection and a full set of hats. That’s a little unconventional. We figured rather than blitz all at once with all the products we wanted, we should take them one at a time and build them right. We don’t add things to the collection thinking they will be a one and done. Once something is in the line we expect it will stay and we stay diligent to improve things as needed.
Flylords: This year’s lineup is killer – and we’ve had the privilege of shooting/testing some of these products. Can you tell us a little about the lineup – maybe some of your favorite items?
When we won the Gray’s Best Award for our hats, we knew we were on top something. So we wanted to make more of those and broaden the styles. That whole line is something we’re very proud of. Fishermen always need hats and we think ours are as comfortable as they come. The optic black under brim to reduce glare is also a really nice feature.
The Cotton Collection was a labor of love. When we first launched the brand we did what most small brands do. We screen printed on blank tees. Something about that just didn’t feel right to us, so we set out to build our own. In the end, that meant sourcing fabric, custom dying and going through a lot of rounds of prototypes but as always the more challenging path taken is usually the most rewarding.
We’re also super stoked on the SUNWT Collection. We’d been sketching on full-bleed patterning for a long time. We pulled inspo from old rugby jerseys and some photos we’d found of Heminway in the Keys. It’s been a lot of fun seeing those designs transform into modern technical apparel. Keep in mind that our latest developments all follow heritage styles like the WORKWT Glove, FREEWT Shirt, OCEANWT Hoodie and 7 Mile Button-Down Shirt (all award winning within the fly fishing industry). Those styles paved our way and reinforced our optimism.
Flylords: Are there any specific influences that inspire your most recent designs?
We try to stay true to ourselves, but I’d say recent inspiration is coming more from surf/skate culture. It’s interesting because surf/skate is super progressive and fly fishing quite frankly is largely not. Smashing those two together is a fun challenge. We also spend a lot of time looking at the history of the sport. Our logic is if it worked in the beginning it probably will still work now. We are comfortable blending old school and new school to get the performance results desired.
Flylords: In a saturated apparel market, 12 weight seems to be doing things a little bit differently. What do you think your special sauce is?
Our small motivated team is very eclectic and I think that shows through in our products. Some of our crew have an extensive product background, while others do not. Some are art directors and typographers while others studied fine art and color theory. When you start mixing together these different perspectives and a wide range of industry knowledge–with everyone free to speak their minds and ask questions–it makes for a quirky environment to work in and the result is a product line that feels a little bit different.
Flylords: What’s one of the coolest adventures you’ve seen your brand be a part of?
Will Benson (World Angling) and one of our co-founders (Frank Smith) fished Seychelles over the winter. It’s a little cliche right now because it seems like every brand is doing it, but that was pretty cool to see. Honestly, though, we have cool right here in our backyard. When you can get up before work, hike out on the rocks of the Maine coast on a low tide, maybe swim to some outer rocks, land a 35″ striper on the fly, shower in the beach parking lot and make the short drive into downtown Portland it feels like an adventure, but it also feels like normal everyday life.
Flylords: Are you allowed to fish a 5 weight wearing 12 weight apparel?
Of course, if you’re fishing in our gear, and your happy doing it–then we’re happy for you!
Flylords: What’s the best way for people to get their hands on some product?!
Order online–and reach out to us if you have any questions on sizing, product performance, or whatever. We are a small enough brand that when you call you to get to talk to a member of the team. Also, don’t be bashful about joining our newsletter. We’re always sending out promos to our clique that follow along.
To check out the full 12 WT apparel line click here and be sure to follow them at @twelveweightapparel.