Just as the ski industry evolved, so do fashion. Many types of ski wear today now combine both aesthetics and function.
Take, for example, the Bogner jacket, which features gold-colored zippers and stud details, along with warm but comfortable layered fabric to keep the wearer cozy on the mountain slopes.
There seems to be the most appropriate clothing and accessories if one heads to ski resorts in the winter or summer, or whether they’re simply touring or actively engaged in skiing.
However, tracing back the history of ski wear, people will realize that it wasn’t as comfortable or even safe as it is now. In fact, the changes seen over the years were a product of fabric availability, major historical events, and more sophisticated consumer demand.
The Beginnings of Ski Wear
Skiing was already a growing pastime in Europe sometime in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that it became extremely popular. However, because the activity was merely for leisure and no skiing associations or organizations existed, skiers didn’t follow any rules regarding their clothing. This is especially true among women.
During the early days of skiing, women initially donned long skirts—something they’re familiar with and probably something worn regularly. The men, meanwhile, sported breeches and trousers, which they tucked under their boots to avoid the bottom from accumulating snow.
The problem with long skirts was they were both uncomfortable and cumbersome no matter how modest they appeared. They allowed strong chilly breezes to brush their skin while snow grazed their legs. Eventually, women learned to compromise: they began wearing shorter skirts, some touching their knees and knickerbockers underneath.
Then Came World War I and Winter Olympics
In the early twentieth century, two major events upgraded ski wear for both men and women: World War I and the first Winter Olympics.
During the Great War, thousands of men had to leave their families and jobs to fight. Despite this, the economy still needed to run, or else, there’s nothing to finance the battle. To avoid an economic collapse, in Britain, women took over men’s jobs. They worked in factories, while a group of females called Women’s Land Army toiled in the fields.
Along with their newfound roles, women found themselves wearing men’s clothing such as breeches and trousers without feeling any discrimination. This “new fashion style” expanded to include women’s ski wear.
About six years after World War I, Europe held the first Winter Olympics. This event was monumental not only because skiing suddenly became a sport and that players now had to follow the rules but also because manufacturers started producing better-quality clothing.
Factors such as cold protection, flexibility or agility, and safety became even more important. Both men and women could already wear ski trousers, which were now available in various colors. Instead of laces and buttons, jackets used zippers.
The clamor for more style continued until the 1930s. During this time, latex was already available in the market. Manufacturers capitalized on its stretchiness to create more versatile cuffs on the sleeves and edges of the trouser legs, creating a more excellent fit that resists coldness and breezes.
Skiwear Arrived in the United States
About the same time skiing grew in Europe, the industry started to arrive in the United States, brought by Norwegian and Swedish settlers. However, it was only during the late 1930s and the 1940s when skiing in the country boomed as more Europeans fled the war.
As for fashion, some women began wearing skirts again, although because clothing materials were rationed during World War II, these were often shorter and slimmer. Fortunately, the trend didn’t last long. A better-insulated parka appeared in the market before the 1940s ended. At the beginning of the 1950s, Bogner launched stretch ski pants to the American market.
Skiwear over the remaining decades seemed to match the trend of the era. For example, in the 1960s and the 1970s, clothing was more stretchable and, fortunately, less water absorbing. They were also lighter but more colorful. In the 1980s, shoulder pads found their way into the upper clothing while ski wear, now mostly made of synthetic fiber such as nylon instead of wool, screamed bright colors.
Later, onesies came about, as well as skiwear that looked less structured but more informal—streetwear, in fact. Therefore, both men and women felt more confident to strut their clothes whether they’re on the slopes or the ski villages.
Today, manufacturers have gotten smarter with design, including reducing the number of layered pieces a person wears. This helps increase speed, comfort, and flexibility.