photo by Tony Czech
We first discovered Western Rise through their incredible instagram and were immediately intrigued. Soon after we met the man behind the brand, Will Watters. An avid outdoorsman, Watters created Western Rise out of a desire to create apparel that suited his lifestyle. That meant clothes that could take him from a morning of fly-fishing or an afternoon hike, then on to the local bar with friends. We chatted with him about his love for the outdoors and the growing Western Rise community.
You spend a lot of time in the outdoors, what got you hooked?
A large portion of my love for the outdoors, and fishing comes from my grandfather. He was a dairy farmer in Georgia who took it upon himself to teach me everything there was to know about loving, living, and enjoying the outdoors. We spent many summer days exploring the backcountry creeks and mountains of North Georgia, and falls in the small towns of Montana. He introduced me to fly-fishing, and my passion for the outdoors. I would like to think he is probably proud and smiling about that now.
Sounds like a great man and grandfather. What activities would you say get you out there time and again?
I like to say skiing drew me to the mountains, and fly-fishing kept me there. I was a ski instructor and fly-fishing guide in Vail for a few years, and still cannot get enough of either sport. I also enjoy getting out on a mountain bike when I can, and I have recently been introduced to sport climbing. I have always found something uniquely interesting about individual sports where friends are involved.
Being an avid outdoorsman kind of makes you the perfect person to talk to about gear and apparel. What triggered you to start your own line?
When I was a fly fishing guide, I became pretty disappointed with the apparel options available to me. Most choices did not fit correctly, lacked the color and style I preferred, or were overly technical and could not be worn outside of fishing. What I wanted to find was apparel that fit the lifestyle that we were living. A typical day in the mountains can range from floating in the morning to mountain biking, climbing, hiking, and end with beers in a backcountry bar or drinks around a campfire with friends. So I began a quest to find gear that really worked, while still satisfying my style. It is this search, and the lack of satisfaction, that lead me to create something myself.
What were some of the specific features you knew your line had to have?
When we set out to create apparel that fit the lifestyle we love and meet the demands of that lifestyle, we were searching for something different. We wanted to create a style that embodies the spirit of the mountains while delivering the performance and durability that the mountains demand. Western Rise apparel designs are driven by the natural world around us—rushing rivers, bubbling creeks, rugged mountains—and the timelessness behind our favorite mountain sports—fly fishing, climbing, camping, etc.
One of the best features of our new line is our new DryRise Technology. Constructed to keep water off your skin and out of your clothes, our DryRise technology resists water, microbials, and the sun. DryRise let’s your clothes perform the way your life demands them to. We believe that you don’t have to choose functionality or style. Our apparel is designed to reflect both.
When designing the collection, do you have a certain man and woman in mind?
Western Rise embodies a culture more than a specific man and woman. Living in the mountains means stunning high points, steep canyons, and gold-medal trout streams. Life changes daily from steep skiing, backcountry touring, and alpine climbing to single track laps, waterfall hikes, and afternoon floats. Most of our friends are fast off the couch and ready for a good time. The demanding environment calls for a demanding, hard-working lifestyle. For those who experience it, it is hard to ever leave.
We love your emphasis on community, which you’ve been building for almost a year before your official launch.
We created Western Rise with the desire to connect with others that view the mountains as their community and their home—no matter where they live. Being active on social channels has been a truly wonderful way for us to connect with this community.
We love your instagram! It's chock-a-block with what we like to call "Living Major." What does that mean to you?
Living Major to me is about living life in the present. We at Western Rise try and learn from every experience. It is through our connections with the world around us, and being present that creates a sense of wellbeing and gratitude. We are constantly learning and seeking new experiences. Each day is a blank slate, and our minds are always open. We love new travel, fresh activities and new friends, and we seek to find those daily.
Sounds like Western Rise and Ursa Major have a lot in common, namely, getting out there and enjoying life and what nature has to offer! Thanks again Will for chatting with us.