Contemporary lifestyles demand a versatile and flexible approach to outerwear. It’s a combination of the transitional nature of travel, our occupation and, most importantly, circumstances beyond control, such as weather that defines the way we dress outdoors. Aiming to combat the unpredictable nature of the elements, Nobis is a functional combination of style and technical design. Co-founder Robin Yates is quick to stress the importance of the versatility of the outerwear he champions. A combination of two passions – travel and nature – is embodied in Nobis. “I am wearing the same technical hoodie on my flight to Europe today as I used over the weekend to remove our boat docks in the pouring rain. Jackets that you can wear comfortably when icing fish, yet that are stylish and comfortable enough to wear when visiting accounts such as Saks, Neiman’s and Gallery Lafayette, simply did not exist before.”
“Creating outerwear that performs both aesthetically and technically in both areas of my passions truly drives the Nobis product evolution,” he tells us, relating the beginnings and founding principles of the house. With over 20 years’ experience in the outerwear domain, Robin Yates was able to combine outstanding design with the technical aspect constructing membranes and linings, as well as the tradition of Canadian down isolation, into his new project. Working with leading brands in the outerwear field over the course of his career, Yates demonstrates exceptional expertise in terms of the technical vision and innovation called for in outerwear. He was VP of Canada Goose over 10 years, during which he oversaw the exponential growth of the brand. In 2007, Yates met Kevin Au-Yeung, through a mutual supplier at a meeting they both attended.
The two were working in similar fields, both with an insatiable drive to expand on traditional dynamics in the outerwear industries: “The strongest synergies shared by Kevin and myself were a strong and compatible sense of fairness. We both hold the absolute conviction of the need to elevate consumer experiences through innovative performance-driven approaches, integrating traditional categories within the apparel industry while exploring both existing and created technologies.”
From this encounter, the idea for Nobis was born. Investing energy into researching and defining the technical design became key, capitalising on the industry-leading technologies but also on the ones that are yet to be developed. It was, and remains, a pure project of passion: “There are few career paths that can evoke the passions and energies of fostering and nurturing, the way brand ownership does. The selfless and unwavering drive to protect, cultivate and care for a brand almost as though it were a wholly dependent entity relentlessly drives us to be worthy of the privilege of serving and governing it.”
Taking the name from the Latin of “us”, Nobis taps into the importance of the duality of the collections. The brand came to live up to the name: “We soon discovered the innocence of this decision as “Nobis”/“us” quickly gained a more omnipotent presence. We had to change the way we designed, constructed, showcased, sold, and supported the brand.” Indeed, beyond the aesthetics of the product, the design of Nobis revolved around an axis of comfort and functionality: “In pioneering the emergence of form-fitted, fashion-forward, functional outerwear, we had to re-invent the entire approach to constructing traditional fashion garments. One of the most important transitions was to have the support of our highly valued sewers. They had to invest twice as much time constructing our jackets, yet find a new level of passion and satisfaction in producing the standard of excellence we now demanded. There is no compromising on design, fit or performance functionality.”
Calling Canada home, Yates lives the lifestyle that Nobis is inspired by, alternating between snowmobiling and fishing. The massive, remote expanses of Canada offer isolation and exploration in equal measure. “I am far from alone in my passion for escaping to remote experiences, immersing myself in the solace of more remote outdoor experiences, while spending most of my life in some of the most incredible international cities. We just wanted to create products that didn’t limit your ability to embrace opportunities as they presented,” he relates. The individual’s performance cannot be limited by the poor performance of the outerwear; it’s the unpredictability of weather that Nobis tackles. “Whether sub-minus snow and cold, or miserable windy, wet fall days, we provide you with protection from the elements while allowing you to reflect your own sense of personal style.” Embracing the elements, in short, is Nobis’ aim.
In view of the importance of personal style, Nobis x Black caters for the sophistication of simplicity – with sleekly tailored pieces that ensure the transition between more traditional outerwear looks and a city-conscious design. “Diversity in our offering has been apart of Nobis since our humble beginnings. Our commitment to providing varied weights, styles and fabrics that cater to fashion, performance and personal choices led to the creation of the Nobis x Black and faux fur/no fur collections.”
Nobis has garnered a global respect as a leading product in the outerwear market. From Johnny Depp to Tom Cruise, Rachel Weisz or Daniel Craig, Hollywood figures or music industry greats have embraced the Nobis style. “It is always an incredible feeling to see your life’s work validated by lifestyle influencers,” Yates admits. But it’s just as important to be able to see everyday people embracing life in a way they may not have previously been able to, he explains. “A walk or a bike ride on a rainy day, leaving the car parked and embracing the elements as a result of the adaptability of the Nobis offering is really our aspiration.”
With ten years strong behind him, we wonder what Robin Yates’ ambitions are for the future of Nobis. “We are acutely aware that it is far easier to follow and react than to lead,” he muses. “We are steadfast in our commitment to continue to develop performance-friendly fashion-forward fabrics, technologies and silhouettes that will continue to exceed expectations.”