At Strafe, our design process is at the heart of everything, creating technical mountain apparel that will work for all kinds of outdoor adventures. From ideation of new products to updating best-selling styles, we strive to push the boundaries of performance and versatility. Here's a glimpse into our design process:
Everything starts out with an idea, and whether the concept comes from one of our athletes or the design team, the process is very collaborative. We're a small team of like minded people, and everyone on our team, from owners and athletes to marketing and sales managers, get to voice their opinion on any given style or color. We brainstorm, draw up designs, and talk about new ideas. That’s the fun part, when you put pen to paper and pretty much anything is possible!
The development process involves a combination of creativity, lots of research, testing of materials and prototypes, and gathering athlete and end-user feedback.
We carefully select all components to meet our high standards for performance, durability, and comfort. All materials have to be able to withstand harsh weather conditions, intense physical activity, and frequent use. Therefore, we choose fabrics and trims that are known for their exceptional performance, including air-permeable fabrics that feel great against the skin and allow for unrestricted movement, high-quality sustainable insulation, which offer the perfect balance between warmth and packability, in addition to sourcing zippers, snaps, and cord locks from the most well known and trusted manufacturers in the world.
(Left) Production color and fabric board. (Right) Strafe's VP of Product and Design, Pia Halloran. Photos: Kelsey Sandness.
Our Design team starts each season by traveling to fabric and materials trade shows where they meet trim manufacturers and fabric mills, see the latest innovative technologies and trends, and discover new materials that might be used in the next seasons’ gear.
Based on the number of new styles, and whether any existing products are due for an update, numerous fabrics and insulations will be chosen for testing. In many instances the team will compare and test 3-4 different fabrics, eventually whittling the selection down to the most ideal one for the style, and intended use.
Prototyping is a crucial step in our design process. We believe in minimizing waste and being environmentally conscious, and try to limit the number of prototypes we create as much as possible. It’s always fun and exciting when protos come in because starting out they're truly bespoke, so this is the time to dial in the construction and all of the small details. These prototypes allow us to measure fit, function, and durability, ensuring that the gear performs as intended.
We are fortunate enough that our headquarters are located at the base of Aspen Highlands ski resort, providing access to a wide range of conditions and the ultimate playground. We put our prototypes to the test in real-world scenarios, from stormy deep powder face shots to ripping corduroy on a warm quintessential bluebird day.
We have a dedicated team of athletes who do in the field product testing, wearing the protos in various conditions, on and off the mountain, then submit feedback to our development team so they can make the necessary adjustments. This rigorous testing process allows us to fine-tune our designs and ensure that our gear performs at its best.
At the start of each design cycle, our designer Pia Halloran is focused on developing new concepts and ideas, as well as making improvements to our existing best sellers, to meet the demands of our ever growing customer base. In conjunction with design, our fit team pays close attention to ergonomics and sizing to ensure a comfortable and unrestricted range of motion in all of our products. We listen to feedback from our core team, athletes, retailers, and customers, as it helps us understand what works and what can be improved. This approach allows us to create the best versions of our products, ensuring that our customers are getting the highest quality, and best fitting, gear.
Throughout the design process, we consider the lifecycle of our products and work hard to make them as sustainable as possible. This includes sourcing eco-friendly materials, reducing waste by making accessories with any excess fabric, donating used gear to people in need, and supporting ethical manufacturing practices.
As a small company in a massive industry we embrace change and are doing our best to minimize our environmental impact. By incorporating sustainable materials into our designs, we strive to contribute to a brighter future for all of us.
Our design process is a continuous cycle of innovation. We are always researching and exploring new technologies, materials, and concepts to push the boundaries of what is possible in technical mountain apparel. We believe that by combining functionality and versatility, we can help inspire outdoor enthusiasts to step outside, explore their limits and embrace the mountains with confidence.
Anytime a new Strafe collection launches is a time of reflection, looking back and seeing all of our hard work coming to fruition. It's a collaborative effort and at the end of the day our goal is to make products that we're proud of, and stoked to use ourselves.
After this long and arduous process, and almost two years after those initial design meetings, our products will hit the shelves and it’s time to go skiing!
Looking to the future. Photos: Ian Fohrman.