HoodLamb will celebrate the hemp lifestyle and art at HoodLab tonight

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HoodLamb is a vibrant hemp company that landed in Colorado when it decided to expand beyond Europe, where it was founded almost two decades ago. With this area's growing cannabis culture, as well as lively art and music scenes, Denver seemed the perfect place to infuse with both its product and projects.

HoodLamb's store, HoodLab, which doubles as an art gallery, sells the famous HoodLamb winter coats that have been worn by celebrities from Snoop Dogg to Willie Nelson. And the business's eco-friendly, organic approach also resonates with the local MMJ community, which congregates at the Lab every First Friday for rocking parties. Tonight HoodLab will welcome another artist to its gallery, photographer Kim Sidwell, with a party that doubles as a pro-Amendment 64 rally. See also: - Dampie displays 75 years of hemp culture in new show at HoodLab

Over the years, the company has gained an international reputation for offering high-quality outerwear and clothing that's gone a long way to overcome the stigmas associated with hemp. HoodLamb has been a leader in making hemp clothing more stylish and wearable, pushing the envelope of the green movement by emphasizing eco-friendly, organically grown hemp.

HoodLamb is currently sponsoring the crew of the Sea Shepherd, featured on the TV show Whale Wars, supplying the team with coats, gloves and custom blankets. "We believe in the same things, and are part of the green movement," says Cici Dunn, wife of co-founder Adam Dunn. "We just have different roles, but we support their job fully."

To push their green message, the owners of HoodLamb have supplied coats for such music-industry celebrities as Snoop, Willie Nelson, Flavor Flav, Woody Harrelson, Redman, Binary Star, Jane's Addiction and Tommy Chong. They also possess a few dozen coats that were used like canvases by artists.

"Back when people like Michelangelo were painting, everything was hemp canvas, so it was a natural fit, plus we love art and culture and just wanted to bring some life to the coats," says Adam. "We didn't ever start selling them because we wanted to show the artists we really cared about the art more than the money, and if we never started selling them, we would never have to." They now use these shows for marketing, fashion shows and displays at the stores.

But the journey to build the brand got its start with far more humble beginnings. "It all started in Amsterdam," explains Adam, who in 1993 partnered with Douglas Mignola to open the prototype of the original store in Amsterdam, which Mignola still runs. They created a little shop that sold other companies' clothes, hemp products and more. At the time. the industry wasn't really developed and the clothes were loose knits, very rough. "People were making clothes with material that wasn't really meant to be used for that, and the cuts were really strange, the material very heavy," Adam remembers. "We were just ahead of the curve and the market wasn't ready for us."

In 1995, they opened a store called Hemp Works, and this is where the idea for high-quality hemp snow coats originated. "We really just looked at the market and decided coats would be more sustainable," Adam says. The original design for the coats, while trendsetting at the time, has evolved considerably since then. When they first started making the coats, every aspect of production was done locally and under close watch. "We had to go through a four-year period where everything was learning and trying to improve the product," he remembers.

The company got into such details as the best zippers, buttons and even fur. "Nothing is worse than buying a $300 coat just to have a bad zipper on it," Adam says. "When you have high-quality material, it takes high quality features to sustain that quality." Ultimately, when demand grew, they moved production to China. "When production is in China, every mistake is amplified, so we had to really do our research and make sure everything was really how we wanted it," Adam explains.

Their 2012 line of coats coats includes seven distinct styles. The first version was discontinued and the second-year design is now considered the classic coat; there's also a lady's version with a cut that fits women better.

To market the new line, the company adopted a major marketing campaign called "Commitment to Detail," which highlights the new features on the coats, including custom heavy-duty buttons, inner cuff thumbholes, magnetic closure pockets, secret pockets, the pattened rolling paper dispenser and the fact that what was once 100 percent acrylic fur is now 55 percent recycled plastic and hemp fiber. The new coats also have a hemp-based eco-cellulose that makes them waterproof.

Adam Dunn is from New York and Mignola from the surfer culture of California, and while it might seem an odd match, they proved perfect business partners. "He was just more organized and I was the more creative thinker, so it made for a perfect marriage business-wise," Adam says. "Whenever you have a twenty-year marriage in anything, you have to feel comfortable."

The marriage is now long distance: A couple of years ago, the Dunns decided to extend the reach of HoodLamb by opening a second store in Colorado. "We just really loved the climate, and the hemp culture is very strong here. We thought it would be a perfect place to start the U.S. store," says Cici.

When the Dunns arrived in 2011, they first opened a store on Santa Fe Drive. But they soon moved to a space in the RiNo neighborhood -- not just because it was bigger, but because there's a vegan market next door, which proved a perfect fit. Every third Sunday HoodLab hosts "Neat Sunday," a vegan farmers' market for the neighborhood. And every second Sunday, HoodLab hosts "Hempster yoga." which is accompanied by a live DJ.

And tonight they'll welcome photographer Kim Sidwell, a hemp activist, to the gallery with a reception that will double as a pro-Amendment 64 rally. Find more information here.

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