While there’s no shortage of military-inspired apparel and accessories available, not many brands are owned by people with real-life army experience. Denver, CO-based Sword & Plough, however, was co-founded by sisters Betsy Núñez and US Army Captain Emily Núñez Cavness. Emily served in the US and Afghanistan, and during her time as an army captain had plenty of experience with official army gear. She believed much of it had a kind of ruggedness that could be brought to market. More importantly, the two sisters wanted to offer employment for veterans. The result is a company that’s veteran-owned, 100% of products are Made in the United States, and 10% of profits are donated to veteran non-profit organizations. Sword & Plough also employs veterans, and has (so far) repurposed over 40,000 pounds of military surplus.
On founding the brand, Emily tells us the idea occurred to her after listening to Jacqueline Novogratz lecture at Middlebury College—about incorporating recycling into successful businesses. She says, “Several experiences from my life collided—including growing up in a military family, being inspired to serve as a result of seeing my dad’s, uncle’s, and cousin’s impactful military careers, being one of few Army ROTC cadets at Middlebury and wanting to bridge the civil-military divide, as well as empower veteran employment… I reflected on my own life and thought to myself, ‘What in my life is sometimes discarded that could be harnessed and turned into something beautiful with a powerful mission?’ Immediately, I thought of military surplus.”
Today, Veterans Day, the brand has released several new products. We’re most excited about their heavy-duty Duffle, which is stylish and functional. Betsy tells us, “We wanted to design a product that was both well-styled and spacious, yet maintained a competitive price point.” The price point, however, didn’t hold the design back. With full-grain leather handles (which are made at SB Foot Tannery; owned by Red Wing Shoes and supplier to the US Army), no detail has been ignored. “One of the design processes we went through included substituting costly leather and brass hardware components with high-quality repurposed fabric-based materials,” Betsy says. But the brand’s “rigorous customer feedback process revealed the desire for a leather shoulder strap, so we designed a strap from American-sourced leather and plan to offer this accessory as an optional add-on feature.” The Camo Duffle’s interior lining is made from surplus 500 denier nylon fabric, which is ultra-durable. The Olive Duffle is made from a nylon/cotton twill, which is a surplus fabric used in older uniforms.
Images courtesy of Sword & Plough