When it comes to buying high-performance winterwear this season, the best brands offer pieces that look as good off the slopes as on them
Just as you no longer need to be going for a jog to wear a pair of stretchy, sweat-wicking leggings, so technical mountain sportswear is no longer reserved for those embarking on alpine jaunts at extreme altitudes. Today’s high-performance winter clothing works just as well on a city break as it does on the most challenging of black runs or trekking routes.
‘Athleisure is not a trend for us, it’s simply how we do things’ - Catherine Stiller, Peak Performance
Founded by the legendary German skier and Olympic medallist Willy Bogner back in 1932, the Bogner brand has enjoyed a revival in recent years thanks to its engaging retro aesthetic which seamlessly combines fashion with function. High on technical innovation, the pieces in its collections are full of innovative details. Examples include a long-line black bomber jacket that comes in weatherproof satin, and a chic monochrome biker-inspired ski jacket with textured side panels and reflective bonding. This makes it great for being spotted during a snowstorm, but just as good for trekking through town when it’s icy cold.
Increasingly, it seems, we are being drawn to clothing that has added functionality. It’s not enough for it to look fabulous or feature a groundbreaking new trend; instead, added interest comes from natty details that turn outerwear into serious pieces of kit. For Bogner, this means that the down jackets in its Fire and Ice range are made from a ripstop fabric, a specially reinforced woven nylon designed to resist tearing. The collection takes its cue from Steve McQueen in his 1971 film Le Mans with a palette that references his red, white and blue racing suit.
Peak Performance was conceived in the mid 1980s by a skier, a ski journalist and an art director who wanted understated yet stylish and efficient clothing that they could wear on and off the slopes. More than 30 years later, the brand has become renowned for its slick, pared-down aesthetic which these days comes under the label of athleisure, a category that Peak Performance nigh-on invented.
‘Athleisure is not a trend for us, it’s simply how we do things,’ says the brand’s activewear designer Catherine Stiller. ‘We strongly believe in this movement, the way people are mixing sports and everyday clothing. As an active person, I love the idea of being set for adventures but still working and living in a city.’ Stiller was inspired by parkour – a fluid type of free-running – and Japanese samurai warriors for the brand’s autumn/winter 2017/18 collection. Consequently there is a conceptual, minimalist feel and cut to the clothing, which features wind- and water-resistant fabrics and warm, oversized hoods. A quilted three-quarter-length navy down jacket has a removable bottom section that conveniently converts it into an anorak, while the Volcan parka is made from two different Gore-Tex C-Knit fabrics. Incredibly durable but also lightweight, it’s one to throw on when the winter weather really kicks in.
The Moncler brand dates back to 1952, when it produced quilted sleeping bags and other robust, practical outdoor items. Fast forward more than six decades and its instantly recognisable quilted jackets with their distinctive shiny texture and fur collars are the technical coats most likely to be spotted away from the slopes. For autumn/winter 2017/18 its Grenoble collection is an explosion of colour: the brand’s trademark navy blue and black jackets have been switched up for super-saturated tones of red, blue, yellow and green. All Moncler Grenoble jackets are laminated with a film projection on the interior lining and heat-sealed for maximum waterproofing performance.
Another function-based brand that has grown in popularity is Sorel, whose distinctive rubber-soled and shearling-lined snow boots are now de rigueur on the streets of fashion capitals throughout Europe during the cold, wet winter months. Originally designed to be worn in snowy mountainous environments, Sorel’s signature styles include the Slimpack 1964, which is made from vulcanised rubber and waterproof leather, and the Tivoli, a short, chunky style that has a breathable, waterproof construction and a soft, microfleece lining. The brand’s comfortable, hardy boots are the perfect accompaniment to winter’s shearling jackets and wool duffel coats.
With the athleisure trend showing no signs of going away, it is unsurprising that our interest in more complex technical clothing continues to grow. As Stiller explains, ‘It’s about freedom: being able to make the most of every opportunity.’ For many, a winter coat will be their biggest clothing investment of the year, so there is comfort in feeling confident that you will stay warm and dry come rain, wind or snow.