This season’s women’s line is special for a few reasons. First, it’s the deepest and most comprehensive array of women’s products we’ve ever created. We heard what the ladies were saying and responded accordingly. Three brand new jackets and two all-new pants give the women more options than ever. Second, this is the first year that designer and developer Pia Halloran’s designs are finally seeing shelves. She has been a part of the design team for just under two years now at Strafe but due to the length of the design process, this is the first season where her ideas from start to finish are available.
Part of what makes the second reason so great is Pia was finally able to create the pant she’s been wanting to wear for years. Strafe’s female customers will rejoice in Pia’s innovative vision. The Scarlett Bib is a “when nature calls” game changer for female backcountry and resort skiers and riders.
Bib pants are great and all, but when it comes time to pop a squat, they can become burdensome. Top layers need to come off, which tend to fall on the bathroom floor or into cold, wet snow because both hands are required undo the suspenders and fly. To top off this harrowing, but necessary experience, the pants themselves run the risk of also ending up on the ground or worse, receiving an unintended golden shower. All of this awfulness is eliminated with Pia’s sleek, common-sense design that female skiers and riders have been waiting for.
While all this technology is great, it doesn’t happen with a wave of a magic wand. Lots of time, commitment, planning and false starts go into each and every new design here at Strafe. Pia works on both the design and development of our men’s and women’s line. She was on the front lines of the new women’s Scarlett Bib so we figured no better place to turn to to get the full rundown on how a pant like the Scarlett comes to fruition than her.
Pia started her education in her home country of Sweden studying clothing construction and pattern making. In the mid 2000’s, she came to Aspen and never left. She has held many professional positions around the valley but was never far from outerwear. Working as an outerwear buyer at a snowboard shop evolved into a senior buying position at Aspen Skiing Company. From there she was a merchandiser at Obermeyer working on design and development of layering pieces and accessories. We were lucky enough to snag her away from Obermeyer in the fall of 2015 and any ladies who opt to wear the new Strafe women’s line this year will thank us for doing so!
What does your role at Strafe entail?
Line planning – Every season starts with me creating a line plan with the styles that we are hoping to develop. Each style on the plan includes a quick overview of details such as fabrics, insulation, projected sales numbers, target price, and number of colors. Since Strafe is still a relatively small company we have to be realistic of how much we can grow each season, but usually, we end up pretty close to the original plan.
What was the design process like specifically for this pant? When you have an idea, how does it eventually get to the rack?
Each style starts its life on a line plan. During the development cycle, we often make multiple revisions to fit and design details. Sometimes a piece evolves into something quite different from the original idea. With the Scarlett Bib, an added bonus that I hadn’t thought of was how having no connection points between the neck and waist at the back keeps the pant from riding up when you bend over to adjust your boots or bindings!
The time it takes to bring a style from initial idea to finished product that gets delivered the stores can take as long as 20 months. It’s a long process but very rewarding when you see someone wearing your designs.
Fabric and material sourcing – Throughout the year we have meetings with our fabric, insulation and trim suppliers to see new developments and innovations. We believe in creating strong working relationships with fewer suppliers and that’s working well for us.
Design and development – I work on everything from initial concept to development of prototypes to final production approvals. During the development process we receive 4-6 prototypes before a style is fully approved. The time it takes to bring a style from initial idea to finished product that gets delivered the stores can take as long as 20 months. It’s a long process but very rewarding when you see someone wearing your designs.
Color selection and merchandising – Picking out the colors and figuring out how they will work together is one of the most fun parts of my job. I think the best thing about our 17/18 line is that we used a lot of tonal zippers and almost all jackets and pants can be worn together without clashing. We have a tight palette, only 13-14 colors each season, and we try to pick colors that are a little more progressive and not so traditional.
Trim development – Trim items are all the small things that make a jacket or pant function better and look more finished. I design and develop all zipper pulls, snaps, patches, gripper elastic, bungee cord, heat transfer logos etc.
In addition to working on the outerwear, I also design and develop our accessories such as ball caps and beanies, baselayers and tech hoodies. This fall I also re-designed our hang tags which was a fun project. It was a graphic job using paper and text which was a nice change from all the variables of fabrics and seams.
The last part in the process is receiving a size-set which is one of each size in any given style. I am fortunate to have a group of different sized girls that I use as fit models to help me determine if any last changes need to be made. Once everything is approved our factory moves forward with bulk production and we usually get everything delivered to our warehouse at the end of July. From there we ship our product to retailers and customers all over the world.
Talk a little about the Pop-a-squat technology. What birthed that idea?
Working late one evening in the spring of 2016, our sales manager and I were talking about mountain biking. I mentioned I wanted to get a pair of the Giro halter under-shorts to replace my traditional bibs because I hated having to take my shirt off to get the bibs down when nature called while riding. A light came on, maybe a halter style top could work for our women’s ski bib? I’m really happy with the end result and excited to see them evolve over the next couple of years.
How do you decide what inseams and measurements go into a small, medium, large, etc…?
We follow standardized grade rules so the difference between each size is similar to other brands. However, our pant legs are 1″ longer than a standard inseam. We think slightly longer pants look better on everyone plus it makes tall girls happy.
Who are you hoping is drawn to the Scarlett bib?
I think anyone can wear these pants, all winter. Just layer with lighter or heavier baselayers depending on activity and temperature.
How long had you been wanting to design a pant like the Scarlett Bib?
Working as a buyer I always thought there was a void in women’s technical gear that looked flattering and came in nice colors. I’m super excited to finally be designing clothes that me and my girlfriends want to wear. I guess I’ve wanted a pant like this for more than 20 years!
Why was it important to make something like this for women?
My goal was to make something that was unlike anything out there and truly women’s specific. So much currently available for women is just a shrunken version of a men’s style. The technical aspects of this bib are awesome and at the same time, they look really good.
The halter is very functional and makes bathroom breaks super easy, you just hike up your jacket at the left side, unzip at the side and pull the back part of the bib down.
What are some of the signature characteristics that are included in the pant?
The halter is very functional and makes bathroom breaks super easy. You just hike up your jacket at the left side, unzip at the side and pull the back part of the bib down. Since there is no connection between the halter and the back panel it just works. The elastic halter and stretch back panel also makes this pant fit a lot of different body types which is nice. I work hard to cater our fits to a more athletic girl but at the same time keep the cuts flattering.
Are there any features that you wanted to see but had to get cut?
No this is pretty much my dream pant, [laughs]!
What might some evolutions to the Scarlett bib look like?
The biggest changes could be on the fabric side. We are working on some new technologies that I might use in the future. I have a feeling the Scarlett bib will be a staple in our line for a while so I’m sure there will be multiple updates and improvements in the coming years.
I wanted to get a pair of the Giro halter under-shorts to replace my traditional bibs because I hated having to take my shirt off to get the bibs down when nature called while riding. A light came on, maybe a halter style top could work for our women’s ski bib?