Outfitting Northwest Families Since 1945
Founded in Seattle in 1945 by an observant entrepreneur with a bold vision, Pacific Trail Sportswear grew from a tiny maker of men’s jackets to become a major producer of exceptional outdoor apparel for families.
Lowery “Larry” Mounger was then a recent graduate of the University of Washington working as a salesman of men’s clothing in a Seattle department store. Observing the flood of soldiers and sailors returning from World War II, he concluded that there soon would be increasing demand for men’s outerwear designed for outdoor recreation. It was a market niche Larry was determined to fill. So, starting with just six employees, six sewing machines and two jacket designs, Pacific Trail was born.
Larry’s dedication to the new company was contagious. Every day he would inspect each new jacket, then take them from store to store in downtown Seattle until he found one that agreed to stock them. Although he had to mortgage the family home to keep the factory doors open, Larry’s persistence paid off and the company grew. In 1969, Pacific Trail broadened its line to include women’s and girl’s clothing, transitioning into the family-focused brand it is today.
No adventure story is complete without some adversity, and on March 1, 1969, Pacific Trail faced one of its biggest challenges. After closing time, a fire destroyed the headquarters and factory in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Fortunately, there was no loss of life and only two minor injuries. Little was salvaged. But because 85 percent of Pacific Trail’s manufacturing took place in Spokane, Wash., and Utah, the company was able to continue production and recover from the loss.
The Mounger family remained committed to keeping the company headquarters in Seattle, and once insurance money came through they rebuilt the Seattle plant. During the closure, Larry ensured that the Seattle plant’s 150 workers continued to be paid.
Although Larry passed away in 1981, Pacific Trail Sportswear stayed in the Mounger family until 1993, when sons Larry Jr. and Glenn made the hard decision to sell the business. To ensure that their employees would be able to keep their jobs, they resisted selling to a company that would absorb the brand, and instead sold to a financial firm, GKH Retailing Inc. GKH merged Pacific Trail with London Fog, another American clothing manufacturer, shortly thereafter.
Throughout the next twenty years, Pacific Trail continued to grow as a brand, increasing its technical gear portfolio by purchasing other Seattle outdoors brands such as Roffe and Moonstone. Distribution expanded to include many top department stores and sporting goods retailers. In the early 2000’s, Pacific Trail parkas for men, women and children were among the top sellers in the industry. In 2006, Columbia Sportswear acquired the Pacific Trail group of brands, ensuring that the spirit of Pacific Northwest family adventure would stay firmly rooted in the region.