What To Wear On The Mountain
Technical, comfortable and stylish to boot – the ski gear that covers all bases.
What a start to the season. With snowfall at a 30-year high already and resorts such as Zermatt being snowed in, this winter looks set for some of the best conditions ever once the weather settles down. Even the MR PORTER team has been affected. In December, when snowstorms grounded thousands of flights across Europe, we found ourselves stranded on the slopes of Chamonix while photographing the new season’s skiwear collections, so we decided to put them to the test.
Function must follow form when it comes to dressing for high winds, snowstorms and freezing temperatures. Skiwear needs to allow you to move and be breathable, too. But that’s not to say you can’t dress well on the slopes. The best winter sports brands for both skiers and snowboarders marry style and substance, and use advanced weatherproof fabrics to create pieces that will last and look good for years.
“With the ski industry seemingly indifferent to the general economic doom and gloom, the demand for the latest, high-performance skiwear continues to grow,” says Mr Daniel Todd, Buyer for MR PORTER. “This season, we have built our offering from market-leading brands such as Kjus, Bogner and Moncler Grenoble and supplemented it with carefully selected new players, including the retro stylings of French ski brand Fusalp.”
Scroll down for our edit of the best new ski- and snowwear, designed to make an impression whether you’re bombing down a black run or nursing a vin chaud at the bar.
New to MR PORTER this season is Fusalp, a French brand that’s been around since 1952. “Official outfitter of the French Alpine ski team for decades, the brand is a pioneer of innovative fabrics, including Perfortex, a material the company designed itself,” says Mr Todd. “Founded by tailors in the town of Annecy, its skiwear has a precise and neat design that works well with the classic MR PORTER aesthetic.” Fusalp’s designers employ classic tailoring pattern-cutting techniques, which means the streamlined shapes are ideal for anyone who wants to beat their slalom PB. This particular jacket is padded with PrimaLoft for optimum insulation, and features the brand’s signature tricolore trims. It’s best worn with the brand’s ergonomic polar fleece lining gloves, and a pair of Oakley’s futuristic Flight Deck goggles.
Among the better-known mountainwear brands in the MR PORTER roster is Patagonia. It describes itself as an outfitter for the “silent sports” (skiing, climbing, surfing, fishing), and is a go-to brand for understated pieces. It is understandably outspoken, however, when it comes to promoting sustainability and ethics. Founded in 1973, the company has led the field in manufacturing performance fabrics that withstand the elements while having a smaller impact on the environment. Its royal-blue down jacket (pictured above left) is made from recycled ripstop coated in a durable water repellent and filled with ethically sourced goose down. It compresses down into an internal pocket, which makes it an ideal middle layer in changeable conditions.
Ah yes, layering. The base layer should be a sweat-wicking second skin for insulation, and the outer layer a durable jacket that protects and allows air flow. Both are provided here by technical brand Kjus, which was founded in 2000 by retired professional skier Mr Lasse Kjus. It was the first skiwear label to arrive on MR PORTER, due to its reputation for technical wizardry. This jacket comes equipped with patented AC-Vent ventilation technology to help optimise the body’s temperature regulation.
Another brand leading the way in performance skiwear is Aztech Mountain, which is responsible for the sleek monochrome jacket pictured (above right). It has only been around since 2013, but in that time has become something of an insider favourite, thanks to its sophisticated design and affiliation with pro skier Mr Bode Miller. He became an equity partner shortly after sampling the first iteration of this Nuke jacket, made from high-quality Schoeller waterproof wool and filled with goose down. “Made in Italy but created with years of technical knowledge garnered from the slopes of the Rockies, Aztech Mountain’s designs combine style and substance,” says Mr Todd, “which makes them as suitable for carving up the slopes as for strolling around stylish resorts such as Aspen, where the label was founded.”
Snowboarding requires a different kind of styling. Clothing is generally slouchier to allow for lateral movements more akin to those in surfing and skateboarding. Burton is a good all-rounder brand. Founded in 1977 by Mr Jake Burton Carpenter, it is responsible for setting up the US Open Snowboarding Championships, and has a lasting partnership with WL Gore & Associates, using its advanced weatherproof GORE-TEX to craft many of its pieces, including these salopettes, jacket and gloves. As well as Burton’s outerwear, we also stock the brand’s bindings, boots and boards, so you’ll find everything you need apart from a half-pipe.
German brand Bogner launched in 1932 and is credited with being one of the first proponents of the sports-luxe aesthetic. It is so advanced in technical terms, it has been the official outfitter of the German ski team for more than 80 years. “Trends in skiing move more slowly than those in the fashion world, which is a good thing when you’ve just spent £1,500 on a jacket that you’re hoping will last you a few seasons,” says Mr Todd. “But one of the trends we have seen is a re-emergence of the matching ski suit. Merging high performance with retro styling, Bogner’s version is cut for a looser, more modern fit and is a market leader in waterproof technology.”
Snow brands may not to adhere to trends in the way menswear does, but there are still ways to look current. Retro pieces work well with the season’s 1970s undertones, and bold colours will ensure you won’t blend into the sea of black and white. We would avoid any fluoro, and opt for a cheerful colour, such as orange, paired with neutrals or blacks. These salopettes come courtesy of Japanese ski brand Phenix. Its patented Thunderon Thermo insulation helps trap the heat, and the sophisticated engineering and ergonomic design mean you’ll have good freedom of movement for off-piste and moguls.
It can get pretty cold up on the mountain, which means you need to be protected. A zip-up top, such as this neoprene middle layer from family-run ski brand Colmar will keep your neck warm. We would always recommend a helmet when you’re on the slopes. Some of the best come from POC. Its Auric Cut Backcountry helmet offers excellent protection, and has the added feature of a rescue system reflector to point to your location in an avalanche. The Swedish brand has won more than 40 awards for design, and these sleek frameless mirrored Lid goggles are treated with anti-fog and anti-scratch technology to ensure optimum visibility. Come lunchtime, it’s handy to have a hat with you to cover your helmet hair when you remove it. Try a ribbed beanie such as this one from British brand Connolly, and some hand warmers from Swedish glove specialist Hestra.
Moncler’s sleek down jackets are as ubiquitous on the city streets as they are on the ski slopes, so even if you’ve never set foot on a mountain, you are probably familiar with the distinctive cockerel logo. When it comes to skiwear, Moncler Grenoble is the more technically minded line. It’s rooted in history, too, as it was once outfitter to the French downhill skiing team. Moncler was founded in 1952 in the Alpine town of Monestier-de-Clermont (from which it took its name). It began making jackets to keep factory workers warm, and later became the go-to producer for mountaineers. Moncler Grenoble launched in 2010, with a dedicated line providing performance outerwear such as this wool-blend down jacket, teamed here with some Kjus salopettes.
If you’re the kind of man who likes understated design in your everyday clothes, it’s worth carrying this principle to your skiwear, which is where Swedish label Peak Performance comes in. Founded in the ski resort of Åre in Jämtland, the brand’s mission is to provide “real clothes for real skiiers”, which in reality means functional pieces characterised by pared-back Scandi design, such as this monochrome GORE-TEX jacket. Keep the theme going with Anon’s blackout MIG combined goggles and face mask, with Magnetic Facemask Integration technology to seal them to the face, and a Sonar lens for crisp terrain definition.