The North Face
has long been revered among devotees of hip-hop style, while Patagonia has, in the more recent past, expanded its audience to include urban hipsters. Now, with interest in outdoor sports, and nature in general, as great as ever, a number of fledgling indie men’s sportswear brands are reimagining traditional mountain gear
with a more fashion-forward sensibility.
Colorado-based Topo Designs launched last spring
, but its story goes back decades. The brand’s three founding partners grew up in the mountains of the West
, where they developed a lifelong love of the grandiosity of the Rockies, and the varied activities that they afford. Bored with the strictly functional gear typically stocked at the REI- and EMS-type retailers of the US, they found themselves hunting down specialty wares from Europe and Asia. Ultimately, they decided to develop a line to bring their own carefully honed brand of Rocky Mountain High to likeminded hikers, climbers, and campers. The resulting collection of bags and accessories is equal parts retro, rugged and refined.
Batten Sportswear: Batten Sportswear
designer Shinya Hasegawa
spent four years preceding the launch of his line assisting
Woolrich Woolen Mills designer Daiki Suzuki, so it follows that his own brand sports a heritage sensibility despite its 21st century conception. Hasegawa, combining his enduring ardor for vintage clothing with the technical know-how he honed during his time with Suzuki, launched Batten Sportswear in 2011. The Brooklyn-based line, which includes jackets, shorts, swimwear, shirts, tees, bags, and accessories, is informed by surf and outdoor wear from the late ’60s through the early ’80s, with many items appearing as if they could have appeared in the pages of Backpacker magazine’s archives
Most snowboard apparel lines tend to base their operations in locales where the sport they’re intended for can actually be enjoyed. (See: Burton’s Vermont headquarters.) So, it’s telling that Owner Operator
chose not a snow-capped mountain town for its company’s home but the flat, powder-less, concrete environs of New York City. Manufactured in the historic Garment District
—no sweatshops are used in the making of these products—the small brand’s wares use engineered fabrics woven to withstand the wear-and-tear of the slopes, while maintaining a high degree of design integrity that makes it stylish enough to wear on the sidewalks of the Lower East Side.