The Helsinki Hoody or 'SkiMONO'

    Not long ago in Telluride, CO I shared a little secret with a friend of ours, Katie Parnell. I told her we had been designing a ski/snowboard hoody inspired by the golden Era of 80’s ski movies, and the colorful Finnish skiwear featured in the Greg Stump films of the times.
    Katie must have seen something in the sketches I showed her on my phone, because she immediately invited me to bring VOLTAGE to AspenCares, a fashion show in Aspen, CO, to support mental fitness. It sounded cool, so not having any clue what being part of a fashion show meant, or if she was even serious, I said, “Sure! Sounds fun!”
    Later after learning more about the cause the show supported, and that Katie was indeed serious, we were thrilled to step up and see what we could pull together and send with our mountain socks down the runway. 
    The AspenCares show supports Headquarters, a non-profit focused on mental fitness: the purposeful practice of taking care of our minds. At VOLTAGE we love this mission and purpose, because we believe moving our minds to the mountains can help alleviate a lot of mental health struggles. 
    This show became the push we needed to actually sample out the 80’s inspired ski hoody, an idea that has been cooking for a while.  It had just been put on the backburner while we focused on our mission of making the best mountain socks on the market. 
    And surprise, we’ve done it. Just in time for AspenCares, we have a sample coat we’re calling the “Helsinki Hoody” – AKA, the “SkiMONO” - because yes, it was conceived, designed, and even sewn and sampled in the epic ski land of Helsinki Finland.
    As we reveal the jacket in person on the runway, we wanted to add a little context to the thinking and design behind it.
    The VOLTAGE SkiMONO is a ski hoody designed from the ground up and inspired by the bygone era of when skiing was wild, colorful, and fun. Not that skiing isn’t fun now, we just feel that outerwear has gotten waaaay toooo serious! We felt like it was time to toss the crunchy, straight down, un-articulated, boxy, boring, colorless skiwear and give people a way to express their vibe on the hill.  
    We set out to design something we’d like to rock on the slopes, something that’s lightly insulated, durable, bright and bold. We looked to the 80’s ski movies, forever burned into our memories with their crazy colors and even crazier personalities. 
    One of the sponsors of Greg Stump’s film The Blizzard of Aahhh’s was Club A by Torstai, an outerwear brand from Finland. Their designs were bold, simple, and head turningly colorful.
    As a teenager, I wore Club A on the Colorado slopes.  As a designer decades later, I began to realize just how unique their jackets were. These garments had epic fits, wide arms, no shoulder seams, but patterns that wrapped around the body like the simplicity of a Japanese kimono. Even though they were made over 30 years ago, they looked fresh, they were cool, and I didn’t see anything like them on the market.
    I combed the internet for old Club A jackets, but to my utter dismay, I could find hardly anything about the brand online. No vintage samples, no stories, no business stats . . . nothing - just a small little blog post, linked here, *** that told the story of how Club A came to America. It’s worth the read. What I did find out is that Club A was hot for a short time in the US, was asked to make the uniforms for the US freestyle ski team, then fell on hard times and eventuality closed down after a decade or so.
    After more digging, I finally came across a designer named Ilona that worked with the original Club A team, and she was in fact the head professor of Helsinki Finland’s Fashion Institute. I reached out and finally connected with her, to find out that she was teaching but had some time in the summer to help us design a totally new ski jacket . . . inspired by the simplicity and cut of the old Club A wear, and old school Japanese design. 
    After talking back and forth with Ilona, and a few trips to Helsinki, the SkiMONO was born. Like a Japanese kimono, there are no shoulder seams or traditional cutting, but a wrap that crosses the body and makes for a fresh oversized look, loose and comfy, functional with an epically large kangaroo pouch and hand warming pocket. The helmet friendly hood actually looks cool pulled up, with or without a helmet, or just hanging down your back. The jacket features a high neckline, front zip, Velcro fasteners on the wrists, and a super soft interior shell. The outer fabric won’t kill the environment (and doesn’t feel like it will). It’s soft and supple and sports our signature Lapland LOV pattern - designed by Ilona herself. 
    So here it is, World! We hope you love it. Pre-orders will be coming soon. And thanks again for listening, or reading. When you love design, you just can’t hold back when you see an opportunity to make something new.
    In addition to the SkiMONO, we’ve donated a handful of products to AspenCares and will be displaying some of our signature VOLTAGE mountain socks for the crowd to behold.
    Follow me for more on the journey to making the best mountain socks and goods! @flyingfowles
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