That’s how Chelsea Parrett of Snow Peak’s Portland team describes the brand’s first foray into clothing. It’s a description that would sound laughable or contrived in almost any other situation, but as Chelsea rattles off the expression, it’s as if she’s stolen the words right out of my mouth. Snowpeak’s soul is in Northwest Japan where the brand was founded fifty-six years ago, but since arriving in America in the late nineties they’ve been at the forefront of the “gentleman camper,” movement, which has deftly intertwined aesthetically pleasing designs with highly functional products.
Snow Peak’s camping gear is nothing short of beautiful, to the point that it makes you question whether a coffee mug, or a collapsible stool, or even a spork is better suited for a campsite or a display case at MoMA. The collection also lies at the midpoint of ingenuity and elegance, but it’s that “future Amish” vibe that places Snow Peak’s clothing in a different realm, one that is far more thought provoking than many of its outdoor competitors.
The “future” part of the aforementioned description is easy to explain – Snow Peak’s line is unisex, some of the designs look practically space age (including a jump suit, which is cool to look at, but might be a bit hard to pull off) and the highly technical fabrics achieve remarkable warmth while keeping the pieces quite streamlined. The later half of the equation is a bit tougher to comprehend without seeing the clothes first hand, but it deals mainly with Snow Peak’s remarkable unremarkability.
Snow Peak’s clothes are not drab or bland though, rather they have a marked simplicity that is intentional. The collection, which was designed by the granddaughter of Snow Peak’s founder, was inspired by the organic tones of a riverbed, and this understated palette again echoes that Pennsylvania Dutch aesthetic. Yet, as you pick up each piece, be it the burly cable knit wool trousers, the hand dyed sweaters, or the quilted pullovers, that minimalism evaporates to reveal the complexities of Snow Peak’s work. And here is where we return to that futurism, as each piece has been crammed with enough pockets, panels, and crannies to outfit the modern explorer, wherever that exploration may take place.