Living in San Francisco means you’re in a long-distance relationship with snow. And most of us are okay with that, because she’s kinda crazy. You might wake up one morning and she’s done something psycho like bury your car. But those of us who love her will endure I-80 (or checking skis at the airport) to go see her.
And when we do visit her, some of us like to bring a little urban flavor with us. Enter Pop Outerwear. Recently, I met owners Tim and Joanne Medvitz, who are trying to fuse that city and slopestyle. They met snowboarding but were never into the fashion of studded belts and sagging pants. They lived in Mammoth and hit the slopes all the time, but never considered themselves snowboarders in the cultural sense.
They had also grown tired of the 9-5 slog. So they dropped out of the rat race and started Pop Outerwear. But they are trying to approach the fusion of work and the slopes a little differently than many other outdoor clothing companies. "We're not necessarily bringing snowboarding gear to the city; we're making city gear that you can wear snowboarding," Tim tells me. "No one wants to be that guy in the meeting with the big puffy jacket."
"We start with a normal jacket that you'd wear downtown," Joanne adds. "But then we say, 'What would it take to drop a cliff with it?' It needs to be flattering and you need to love it."
I got to take a few pieces on test runs around the city and was impressed. I have an awesome assortment of one-piece ski suits somewhere in a closet and have gone through piles of snow gear over the years. I could see any of these shells, fleeces, or hats in the rotation.
There is a lot of local love in these pieces, too. Pop Outerwear is located in the Upper Haight, and to keep the neighborhood pride strong, the men’s jackets are the Fulton, Clayton and, my favorite, the Judah. And so you can feel at one with the rest of the country, the plan is for next year's lines to be 100 percent made in the US of A. All of Pop Outerwear's pieces to date have been imaginedhere, though – specifically by Tim and Joanne. They don't outsource to a designer. Each piece comes straight from the drawing boards in the office. Tim even built the clothing racks they hang on.
Yet getting these clothes to those racks is not an easy thing to do. As a small business, Joanne tells me that it's been rough waters to get their orders fulfilled overseas. They are just two (extremely nice) people sitting in an office in San Francisco; they don't carry as much weight as a major clothing company with the customer service departments. Previous shipments of clothing have been six weeks late. Some businesses can live with those sorts of delays, but when you make seasonal clothing – especially in a market that's as deal hungry as snow sports – every day counts. Now that they’re bringing the manufacturing home, they believe those lags are going to largely dissipate.
I support that too. I also support being able to head for Tahoe and visit my kinda crazy girlfriend dressed in style.