RICHMOND, Va. — An apparel retailer that got its start in the California wilderness in the 1960s is heading to Richmond’s Southside.
5.11 Tactical is preparing to open at 7100 Midlothian Turnpike in the Spring Rock Green shopping center, adding to its 35 stores nationwide.
The company, which makes and sells only its own brands of clothing and accessories for outdoors enthusiasts, first responders and the military, was founded by rock-climbing pioneer Royal Robbins in the Yosemite Valley.
Robbins, who often climbed with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, first made pants out of heavy canvas that he called the 5.11 Pant, after the scale on which climbing routes were graded, with 5.11 being the most difficult.
The pant gained in popularity among climbers in the ’70s and ’80s, and word eventually spread. Jeff Roberts, 5.11’s VP of retail and merchandising, said in the ’90s, 5.11’s pants caught on with first responders and military professionals.
“Next thing you know, we had a relationship with the FBI National Academy … We went from an outdoor rock-climbing company to a professional law enforcement and military gear and apparel company,” Roberts said.