By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
An outdoor apparel company based in Jackson Hole has used some of Vail’s mountain heritage to inspire one of its current jackets. Stio’s Downwater Anorak was heavily influenced by the 10th Mountain Division uniforms after one of the company’s designers visited the Colorado Ski Museum.
“It happened very organically through the conceptual design process,” said Stio designer Courtney Cedarholm. “We like to pull inspiration from vintage outdoor gear, especially pieces from the west. The practical elements in vintage pieces that still work well today are always influential. Those elements paired with high quality modern materials bring together classic and timeless functionality with advanced fabric performance. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit the Colorado Ski Museum and get access to original ski pieces from past decades.”
It was there when Cedarholm was drawn to the vast collection of the 10th Mountain Division uniforms.
“Learning about the rigorous training in Colorado mountain ranges and feeling the light cotton fabrics, I was just freezing thinking about it,” she said. “I was also inspired by the clever use of materials. The original anoraks were reversible, so they could hide in the snow with the white side showing out or reverse to the army green side when in standard uniform.”
While the silhouettes and design features of the 10th Mountain Division anoraks evolved through the years, they all shared in the same large external carryall pocket that provided easy access to essentials and they all had wide collars designed for easier (and lots of) layering underneath, Cedarholm explained.
“These simple yet functional elements were designed specifically for foot soldiers to endure the tough environment of a high alpine winter and were very influential in designing our Downwater Anorak,” she said.
The most obvious design cue from the 10th Mountain Division uniforms is the neckline shape and construction on the Downwater Anorak.
“The single piece neckline is a clever fit and construction element that we wanted to incorporate,” Cedarholm said. “We modernized it by adjusting the zipper height to match our current outdoor jackets. The construction also creates a more open neckline that allows for comfortable layering which is essential to the ever changing temps of summer days in the mountains.”
The idea for the front kangaroo pocket also came from the 10th Mountain Division uniforms. Cedarholm said she loves how big and functional these pockets are.
“We incorporated the oversized concept but tweaked the design with simple clean lines and positioned the pocket in a more flattering location,” she said. “As another modern feature, we added a security zipper pocket designed to hold a cell phone or wallet.”
Another more subtle draw from the 10th Mountain Division anoraks are the double needle seaming and the attention to detail at the interior of the jacket.
“We used a contrast color to clean finish the interior seams so while it is not reversible, the attention to detail at the interior is just as important at the exterior. It also adds strength to an already very strong piece,” she said.
In the end, Cedarholm said the team designed a piece from modern materials that stayed true to optimal functionality for hiking, camping, river tripping and summer in the mountains, while honoring the heritage style of the early explorers of these mountains.
The fabric on the Downwater Anorak is what makes this piece really perform in modern mountain standards. The pullover is 100 percent nylon and windproof by the fabric structure. There is UPF 50-plus without chemical treatment, and Cedarholm said that mixed with the lightweight wearability is great for water or trail adventures.
“This is also a strong fabric with a high tear strength and abrasion resistance making it your best friend at the camp site,” she said. “It is also treated with a DWR finish to shed water on the river or when caught on the trail in a quick little storm.”
Cedarholm said Stio will keep learning about the history of the 10th Mountain Division, along with what they wore, why and how that can inspire what to design moving forward.
“I think it is very important to understand the history of clothing, materials and culture to understand what is modern and where it came from,” she said. “We will continue to explore all kinds of apparel history and honor the early mountaineers whose adventure inspire our adventures along with the gear we get out there with.”
Check out the Downwater Anorak from Stio at http://www.stio.com.