Mike Wallenfels Discusses Mountain Hardwear's First Product - rough cut

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The samples were in you might say random colors because we didn’t order our own fabric ahead of time, it was whatever fabric Gore or Malden had available, so bright, ugly, reds and, purples and greens and blues that were left overs and scraps. Our logo since we had just come up with the concept of finalizing the Mountain Hardwear name and logo, we are able to make the logos to be able to go to the product but we couldn’t actually sew them on. So they were stuck on with tape and I remember that first trade show and we were showing samples and every time I pulled the jacket out of the rack, the logo would fall off of it on the ground and our carpet was covered with double stick tape logos by the end of the trade show.

Well first I want to quantify that the samples were hideous only in the color and the execution and maybe how the labeling was done. The products themselves were amazing and Paul and Ingrid had done an incredible job in a very isolated situation. They were in Hong Kong at the time and they were designing the product line that would become the first Mountain Hardwear execution and the products that came out that year wound up being really the identifiers that created the Mountain Hardware personality for years to come.

The exposure Parka was our first Gore-tex Jacket that was introduced that year, the chill factor jacket, the subzero jacket, down jacket that we did now, now those will be remembered for ever, power stretch, zip tee, power stretch tights, those are the ones that Lesley Howad designed. The message became heard loud and clear, we want really strong, very durable, really very well designed, Gore-Tex jackets, PolarTech jackets, down jackets that were designed for core purpose of high altitude mountaineering and back country Skiing and climbing, so it was all outer wear.

It was all technical winter oriented outerwear designed for very harsh conditions and that’s what really made Mountain Hardwear’s name but that’s what we went to market with for fall because we had to design it and get it shipped later.

Our first products that we actually shipped were sleeping bags and our first sleeping bag that we ever shipped was the bag that Jack Gilbert actually named, named the “Brand New Bag” and so we said that we were going to be in apparel or basically an apparel outerwear and equipment company and we had that commitment from the beginning but the first thing we market with were technical outerwear, some inexpensive stuff that never got made and then sleeping bags and later on Tents. There are some that never saw the light of day. I am not going to paint the picture and say that it was wonderful.

We felt that we can also develop some less expensive things, so we had some stuffets. Our stuffets jackets and I think another waterproof jacket that we called the Terrapin that was an inexpensive tape rainwear jacket that the retailers, when we told the story just basically looked at us straight in the face and said, “we don’t want cheap stuff from you.”

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This Story is part of a Series...

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by Author MikeWallenfels

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Story Copyright
12/05/18