Interview with Cascade Armory by Rachael Lovette.....

If you’re looking for designs that are classic, durable, and keep you cozy in the elements, you’ll want to check Bend, Oregon’s Cascade Armory.

Below we talk with Diana, who has wowed outdoor enthusiasts with her partner Alex by forging a outdoor lifestyle brand apparel company that celebrates your latest outdoor adventure whether it’s sharing stories with your crew around a bonfire or the local hangout.

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Get to know the Brand

How would you describe Cascade Armory?

I would describe Cascade Armory as an array of comfy, classic, casual clothing, made by people who love to be comfy, classic, and casual.

What considerations go into building an eco-friendly brand?

I am a vegan and Alex is a vegetarian, and we care deeply about the welfare of animals, which we also believe to be the welfare of the planet. We love the look of leather, but only use vegan leather at Cascade Armory to ensure no animals are harmed when making our clothing.

What are your aspirations with Cascade Armory?

We always talk about opening a brick and mortar in downtown Bend. This is definitely a dream of ours! Along with that, I know we’d like Cascade Armory to one day be able to give back to people and to our community, and really make a difference. Right now, we sponsor local athletes and programs as much as we can, but we have future plans to do much more.

Does your hometown or current city contribute to your design aesthetic? 

Absolutely! The cool thing about Bend is that the outdoor activities aren’t far from town, so we really wanted to create clothing that could work well in both settings. You might bike or hike in one of our flannels and then head straight into town for food and drink – looking stylish, yet being functional.

Is there a storytelling element to your design process/creation?

Alex and I split the design process right down the middle. He is in charge of the men’s side, and I am in charge of the women’s side. We give each other input here and there but really leave each other to our own creative process. I find that I have to really take the time and figure out what I want to create, down to every detail. If I take too much advice from outside, I end up being not as excited about it. There’s something about bringing your own vision to fruition – it’s a special process. Alex is just great at it. He usually knows exactly what he wants to do and is super decisive. He’s never afraid to put himself out there, and I love that!

What is the inspiration behind your current collection? 

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I would say our current collection is inspired by the Pacific Northwest. We wanted our collection to be a fusion of city life and outdoor life. Clothing that can be worn well in either setting.

How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?

I’m not a girl that dresses up much. I’m super casual and I think there’s so much beauty in that type of laid back, effortless style. If women feel comfortable, confident, and stylish in my clothing, then I feel I’ve done my job well.

Get To Know Diana

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion? 

Alex and I actually started a clothing company back in our early 20’s while we were both in college. Now that I look back, we didn’t really know quite how to start a business but we had so much fun designing clothes, and got our whole hometown wearing it around! It was that experience that really planted the seed for what we are doing today.

What inspired you?

Our love of fashion, the outdoors, and our amazing hometown inspired our company to be what it is today.

What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?

It was definitely hard to put everything on the line. It can be easy to have those fears creep into the back of your mind, wondering if you have what it takes to make it. Even just in the beginning of our journey, there have been so many tests. You can’t let that stuff takeover, though. The truth is that both Alex and I feel most aligned and passionate when we are working on Cascade Armory, so we just have to run with that feeling.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week? The most interesting thing we’ve read recently is the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – such an inspirational story, filled with ups and downs, about the journey of Nike. Alex and I listened to the audio book together and it was awesome. If you haven’t read it yet, we definitely recommend it!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

The most interesting thing we’ve read recently is the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – such an inspirational story, filled with ups and downs, about the journey of Nike. Alex and I listened to the audio book together and it was awesome. If you haven’t read it yet, we definitely recommend it!

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Where can we find you when you’re not designing for Cascade Armory?

We have very busy lives, but you can always find us up at Mt Bachelor for ski season. We enjoy being outdoors in the summer, biking or paddle boarding. We also spend a lot of time at the climbing gym!

Where are your favorite local places to shop? 

We send our love and support to Local Joe in downtown Bend – great place to shop, love their stuff! We also love the selection up at the Mt Bachelor Ski Shop.

What is your favorite part about being a designer?

My favorite part is the designing portion! It is so cool to see your vision come to life, and then to have people want to wear it is such an amazing feeling.

Do you have a favorite piece that you designed? 

I would have to say probably our women’s McKenzie Hoodie. This hoodie has a very unique cut and customers have responded well to that. It’s fun to reinvent the classics but it’s also exciting to do something that no one else is doing. We’d like to try and keep a healthy balance between the two.

What would you like remembered about you?

Wow, great question! The one thing I can say for sure is that when you’re down, having hard times, feel like giving up – it’s often someone else’s story of fight and perseverance that gives you so much hope. At one point in our lives, Alex and I had basically nothing and had a lot of challenges ahead of us. I’d love to be remembered as people who never gave up, and who’s story helped someone else out there going through the same struggles. I’d also love to be remembered as a good mom.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I have been given basically boils down to learning to embrace your struggles and hard times, and to realize that if you allow, there’s always a great lesson that can be learned in those times. It sounds crazy, but we should welcome them in, as they allow great opportunity for growth. Again, read Shoe Dog!

What item in your closet do you wear the most?

Jeans! And sweaters! Ladies – I know we don’t have any sweaters available yet, but I’m working on it. This is at the top of my list! For Alex, since it’s still a little chilly in Bend, we can’t get him out of his Cascade Armory Sherpa Hoodie. If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, definitely check these out!

What is on your bucket list? I think a lot of traveling is on the bucket list for both Alex and I. I’d love to see the Buddhist temples in Japan and visit the Soca Valley. Alex is always talking about skiing in Alaska.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? 

Skip the stress and trust yourself. Know that you can do it and have faith in the process. Stress is really just an unnecessary distraction from the end goal.

Want to learn more about Cascade Armory, meet the team or see what they’ve been up to recently?

Follow them on:

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- Rachael Lovette, Portland Fashion Week

Have a question or just want to say hey? Shoot me an email OR follow me on IG @rachaellovette.

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