Thursday, July 2, 2020
Vintage Ski Sweaters-One Man’s Passion
Karl Johan is selling a colorful array of retro ski sweaters.
Saturday, December 21, 2019


Karl Johan grew up thinking there was only one sweater for Snow Country—Demetre.

And, why not?! He grew up in Seattle near Ballard where the sweaters were made. And his family wore nothing but when they headed out on the ski slopes.

Now, all these years later, Johan still has a love affair with Demetre sweaters. And he’s offering his fellow Sun Valley friends a chance to buy into that love affair when he holds a Vintage Pop-up sale featuring Demetre sweaters from the 1970s and ‘80s today at Independent Goods in Ketchum.

Diane Heiner makes shotgun shell necklaces, antique pieces and other jewelry with unique crystals.

Independent Goods is having a Vintage-Inspired Pop-up featuring Johan and another artist from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today—Saturday, Dec. 21—at its store at 330 Walnut Ave., in Ketchum. Mulled wine, kiddo drinks and cookies will be served.

Joining Johan will be Hailey jeweler Diane Heiner of Whytecloud Mountain Gems. Heiner handcrafts her own jewelry but has an amazing and vast collection of vintage jewelry, as well.

Among her own works: necklaces, rings and cuffs that utilize bronze casting of the nails used to build the Sun Valley Barn.

Johan, in turn will have about 50 vintage Demetre sweaters ranging from small to extra large in men’s and women’s style.

“The designs and colors are amazing. They look brand new. There are plenty to go around!” he said.

Johan, marketing director for Sun Valley Culinary Institute, has long collected the sweaters at thrift stores, garage sales and online. When he nabs one, he cleans it and puts away. Some of the sweaters he will offer for sale today have never been worn.

“Karl Johan is a collector with an incredibly discerning eye,” said Susan Nieves, who owns Independent Goods with her husband. “Over the decades he has collected a large variety of Demetre ski sweaters that will be available for purchase for the first time. The history and beauty in these sweaters—well, they are amazing to say the least.”

Demetre sweaters were made of American wools spun and twisted tighter to give greater warmth and long-lasting good looks. They came in a profusion of colors, often with stripes.

They were dubbed “America’s first name in fine ski sweaters.”

During the time Demetre sweaters were being manufactured, Seattle was one of the largest apparel-manufacturing centers in the country and considered the nation’s leader in outerwear. But cheap overseas labor—Chinese sweatshops paying sewers a dollar a day—took its toll on American companies paying $7 to $12 an hour.

Roffe purchased the Demetre Sweater Company, which once employed 80 workers, in 1987. And in 1996 Roffe closed its doors.

Johan’s collection includes a sweater with a sleeve logo honoring 1966 Winter Olympian Spider Sabich, another with edelweiss flowers strung along the sleeves and still another one with frogs (frogs on ski sweaters?????).

“I’m excited to see them on the slopes, and I think they will be really great for holiday gifts and even end-of-the-season ski parties,” he said. “What’s more, John and Sally Demetre have long had a home in Sun Valley. So, it’s a good Sun Valley story, too.”


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