The labels we recognise today as ‘heritage’ brands have come to be so not by resting on their laurels, but by constantly evolving and moving with the times. Italian family business Colmar is a prime example of this. Schön! looks at the sportswear brand that’s transporting style from the slopes to the streets with its latest collaboration.
Although today it’s best known for its high-performance skiwear, founder Mario Colombo launched Colmar in 1923 by making the then fashionable men’s gaiters and felt hats. As trends moved on in the Thirties, so did the company with its extension into the workwear field. The overalls that it manufactured using shrink-resistant fabrics turned out to be as perfect for the pioneers of professional skiing as for oil workers and so, from the late 1940s, a relationship developed with the sport that endures to this day.
Since then, Colmar has continuously introduced innovations to fulfil the need for speed of countless record-breaking champions, from the Thermospeed fabric and aerodynamic silhouettes developed in the 1960s to today’s Teflon Eco-Elite (a completely sustainable waterproofing system) and G-graphene (a lining that evenly distributes the body’s natural warmth).
However, the brand is as much about style as it is about substance and that’s why, in 2009, it launched lifestyle line Colmar Originals, combining its experience of cutting-edge technology with its inherently hip heritage and capitalising on the cool retro aesthetics of its vintage logo. Here, the pieces incorporate practicality into a street-style aesthetic by, for example, using fabrics that look like wool but are in fact completely waterproof.
A key component of Colmar Originals is the regular collaboration with other designers and brands, the latest of which is the Made in Italy capsule collection with Au Jour Le Jour, a label that infuses irony and irreverence into everyday elegance. Founders Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez used the emblematic logo as their starting point, all the while referencing Colmar campaigns from the ‘80s and ‘90s with their own reinterpretation of volumes and colours.
The result is a “message of positive and happy fashion”, which plays with patches and micro and maxi lettering that “nods at the modern mania for logos” and colour block effects in either sporty red, white and blue, or army tones of khaki and camel teamed with pink. That’s not to say that technology has been compromised in any way: the fashion-forward collection incorporates thermal fillings and three-layer water repellent satins.
“Diego and Mirko have slipped perfectly into the history of Colmar,” says CEO Guilio Colombo. “The exchange of competences has produced a fascinating collection that represents the spirit of both Colmar and Au Jour Le Jour: the result was greater than the sum of its parts.”
Colmar Originals by Au Jour Le Jour is available online here
Words / Huma Humayun
Follow her on Twitter