The snap-button Western shirt is perhaps one of the most instantly recognizable vestures of cowboy regalia and American fashion. While countless brands now churn out variations of this iconic shirt, it was Jack A. Weil, the founder of Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear, affectionately known as “Papa Jack,” who invented it. Originally designed to easily break away if snagged by a steer’s horn, Rockmount’s innovative shirts have since been worn by hundreds of actors and musicians, including Robert Redford, Bob Dylan, John Denver, and Jerry Garcia.
Papa Jack opened Rockmount in 1946 on Wazee Street where it still sits today. He was the oldest CEO in the world, working daily until age 107. His son, Jack B. Weil was also active in the company until he too passed the same year as his father. Continuing the family legacy, Steve Weil, Jack’s son and Papa Jack’s grandson, currently holds the positions of company president and chief creative officer.
Rockmount, along with Levi and Pendleton, is one of America’s three oldest clothing manufacturers. Made in the U.S. since its inception, Rockmount’s garments are exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and retailed at over 1,000 stores worldwide. Adhering to its timeless designs has remained pivotal to the brand’s enduring success. “We never look at other brands. Period. We look within for our inspiration,” Steve says, noting that he once relaunched a Rockmount design from the ’50s after seeing Elvis donning the distinctive shirt in the film “Love Me Tender” years later.
The company, though recognized worldwide, is a very local operation. “I learned from my father and grandfather to never forget your roots. One of the seminal things that makes us special is our Denver roots, and we celebrate that in everything we do.”