The world of Colmar is centred around strong family ties, sport and fashion, but it’s also a world where heritage meets innovation, as the latest collaboration reveals.
Few Italian companies are as iconic when it comes to the world of skiing as Colmar, the family business founded in 1923 and based in the industrial town of Monza, near Milan. Born as the portmanteau of the names of founder Mario Colombo, Colmar went on to become a leader in style and functionality with sportswear destined for the slopes. As we delve into all things heritage for Schön! 45, we speak with Giulio Colombo, current CEO of Colmar and grandson of Mario, to hear more about the passion for excellence in performance that runs in the family.
“Colmar has always been a leading company in sportswear,” Colombo tells us. “Its leadership is based on three pillars: style, performance and heritage.” As the fourth generation steps up to the job too, with Giulio’s daughter Roberta joining the company, the strength of family ties is an evident founding pillar. “Colmar after 100 years is still a family company but wouldn’t be anything without all the people that, at different levels, are working enthusiastically with us,” Colombo stresses. “Our role as a family is to keep the rudder straight, building a strong team of young and motivated people.”
So how does one carry on this heritage into a modern context? Colmar Originals, the line launched in 2009, is part of the brand’s answer, revisiting classic iconography with modern flair, and propelling the company’s aesthetic into new generations. Collaborations are also key, and that’s where artist Joshua Vides comes into play. The artist recently partnered with the brand for the Colmar x Joshua Vides collection, and Colombo is quick and enthusiastic when telling us how it all happened: “Collaborating with artists such as Joshua is for us a source of innovation and experimentation,” he explains. “With Joshua, we have explored new boundaries. We have been fascinated by his way of innovating in the fashion industry [for a while] and found his style to be the perfect way to re-interpret our heritage.”
Vides, a graphic designer, street art aficionado and visual artist based in Southern California, was equally inspired by the opportunity: “I was aware of the brand, but I didn’t necessarily know their ethos or history. It’s important for me to collaborate with like-minded brands and individuals and, after researching and finding the who and what Colmar represented, we were in.’’
The human approach was the heart of the union of two worlds – that of Colmar’s design history as a great sportswear giant, and that of Joshua Vides’ unique take on street art and graffiti. Vides started working from the meeting point of their worlds: “If I’m given freedom to create what I want, it’s usually pretty organic from drawing, to digital, to final object. Given that Colmar is a family driven brand, the answer to any question I had was sitting right in front of me, making the entire process seamless and enjoyable.”
As Southern California and the Italian Alps met, it became obvious that retracing Colmar’s heritage in sportswear and the iconography that has become associated with the brand had to be central in the designs. “Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, most gold medallists in the Olympics stood there celebrating and holding up their latest achievement in hand… wearing Colmar,” Vides explains. “I wanted to reflect on that time period where the term ‘victory’ is what Colmar was known for. I was fortunate enough to dig through the archives and pull references to be able to recreate through my lens. Continuing the ‘Reality to Idea’ concept I’ve created, the goal was to highlight the original sketches of these iconic pieces worn by champions.”
‘Reality to Idea’ is a concept that Vides started working around in 2018, which has a uniquely recognisable aesthetic of black-and-white sketch lines that recreate reality in a 2D format. These lines are at the heart of the Colmar x Joshua Vides designs and, working with the iconic ski jackets, toy with the idea of 3D space transformed into a 2D sketch. Vides says he was keen to delve into the history of Colmar by “staying true to their bloodline. I wanted to celebrate with Colmar, not rain on their parade. The quality of [Colmar’s] outerwear is unbelievable.” Few things are bigger, bolder or more beautiful than heritage found in excellence – something that is quite the signature at Colmar.
Discover the Colmar x Joshua Vides collaboration @ colmar.com.
This editorial from Schön! 45 has been produced by
photography. Kevin Felicianne
art direction + fashion. Patrick Clark
models. Virgile @ Agence Silver + Alisson @ Girl MGMT
grooming. Miwa Moroki @ MFT Agency using Leonor Greyl
photography assistant. Kelly Koffi
fashion assistant. Cassiopée
retouch. Studio Navona
production. Divergence Studio
production assistant. Michaël Vafiadis
location. Studio Albatros
special thanks. The Team @ Colmar
words. Patrick Clark