Marcel Hirscher might have retired from professional skiing two years ago but the two-time Olympic gold champion skier isn’t abandoning the slopes just yet. With The Mountain Studio, the 32-year-old’s newly-launched label, backed by Peak Performance founders Stefan Engström and Peter Blom, is attempting to combine performance outerwear with modern Alpine and Scandinavian design, espousing style, sustainability and the mountain lifestyle as its foremost values.
“Everyday we’re out skiing; it’s amazing to test the gear to improve it and create the best possible product for now. And we’re not done. We’re working every single day to get better and better,” Hirscher told Highsnobiety over Zoom from his house in Salzburg, prior to tomorrow’s launch.
The Austrian-born native wishes to move mountains with a line of unisex clothing suitable for the slopes and the street. Born and developed in Zermatt, Switzerland, the performance-driven products for skiing and other outdoor activities are spun with versatility and style in mind, finished with a streamlined look.
Engström and Blom, who founded Peak Performance in 1986, propelled the label to success with annual sales just shy of $170 million and with a presence in more than 25 markets across the globe. Since leaving Peak Performance, they are attributed with helping labels like J. LINDEBERG and Filippa K flourish. Engström is an executive and passionate skier; Blom was editor-in-chief of Sweden’s biggest ski magazine Åka Skidor. Alpine skier Hirscher recalls purchasing a Peak Performance hoodie with one of his first professional skiing paychecks. Shortly after his retirement, he heard the pair were weighing up a new venture.
“When I retired, I heard a rumour that Stefan was building a new label. He told me the story and straight away I was completely in love with it. What I brought to this is my experience of having skied for thousands of days in my whole life: I had so many ski clothes and you learn what is good, what is bad, what fits perfect, what material is right. I’m giving them feedback made through 20 years of skiing. And it’s really cool because they’re so open.”
The challenge with their multi-pronged stylistic approach is that the vision will be diluted but Hirscher argues “we know it’s hard to balance but our philosophy is to create a style that is wearable in nearly every situation in life.”
The small range of products, starting with roughly 20 styles, starting at $850 for shell jackets, are driven by the notion that today’s consumers expect fewer, enduring, multi-use items from brands.
Resisting the demands of the traditional fashion system, outerwear will be released as frequent, year-round limited edition runs revolving around new colorways, fabrics, design and artist collaborations, and special occasion editions, at selected retailers in high-end ski resorts and online.
This extends to fabrication where Hirscher was committed to using materials like GORE-TEX®, Primaloft® insulation, YKK zippers, responding to the needs for waterproofness, breathability, warmth, and comfort. Alongside this, the former professional skier wants to ensure that each piece is designed with longevity in mind.
“We want to see the business grow but it should be healthy growth so it will be slow. We aren’t trying to go for an explosion and then, boom, we’re everywhere,” the seven-time world champion shared about the retail strategy which is headed up by Edi Radacher, who previously managed sales at Salomon, Peak Performance, and J. LINDEBERG. He added, “We’re searching for retailers that are our niche because we're absolutely thinking about it as this high-end product that is not for everyone.”
“It’s important that we’re not greenwashing it because our sustainability is about creating clothes that you can wear for a very long time. Normally, ski gear doesn’t last long because tourists are skiing for one week of the year and they’re done or broken and the customer has to buy new ones,” said Hirscher. “[So] we're focusing on a quality product that our end customer will be happy with because it’s definitely different from that.”
The ambition however is even bigger. “We want to create the mountain lifestyle that [people] see and think that it’s amazing to go out, to put your mobile phone away, and go up in the mountains to enjoy this environment.’”