When we last wrote about Apolis Activism, the socially minded clothing company had teamed up with the American heritage brand Filson to make a messenger bag using fabric sourced from Uganda. Its latest offering — a sweater produced in collaboration with the cycling outfitters at Rapha — originates from another unlikely spot: a small wool cooperative in Nepal staffed entirely by women.
Connecting cycling to Nepal is not so difficult; the landlocked country has recently become one of the most alluring destinations for adventure bikers. “In Nepal, they just see the mountain in front of them and slap a road on it,” says Shea Parton, the brand director at Apolis and a cycling fanatic who slogged up 22 percent gradient climbs (that’s apparently very steep) on a trip in December. “I’ve never ridden on the type of terrain we experienced there: the short but incredibly steep hills that come out of nowhere only to disappear behind you, the controlled-chaos traffic, the dense pollution.” It’s not a pleasure cruise, and yet “it’s really quite a beautiful ride,” he says, full of fertile valleys, pushcarts selling tea on the roadsides and brick factories whose giant smokestacks pop up like lighthouses against the landscape.
During his trip (click here to watch a video about it), whenever Parton wasn’t cycling, he was at work producing the Transit Elite Sweater, a merino-cashmere pull that’s billed as “the perfect reward after a long ride.” Woven at the Citta Cashmere Co-Op in Kathmandu — an organization that provides jobs for women who otherwise may have been excluded from working in Nepal’s rigidly patriarchal society — the sweater is an object lesson in Apolis Activism’s mission, which Parton says is all about “connecting the developing world to the marketplace with its products and story.” The Transit Elite Sweater is $396 at apolisactivism.com.