It is a rare thing in the business of fashion to perfectly understand one's consumer, develop a product targeted exclusively at the highest echelon of the market, source the finest materials from across the globe, and succeed without the backing of millions of dollars in R&D and bold face endorsements.
With 20 years of experience between them, David Roth (real estate investor) and Heifara Rutgers (eight-year tenure in menswear at Marc Jacobs) have set out with one simple goal: to make the most technically advanced performance activewear for men. They've succeeded. To slip on an Aztech Mountain ski jacket, base layer, or pants is akin to trying on your first pair of Alden loafers, feeling your shoulders hug the lining of a Brioni suit, or grasping the wheel of a brand new Bentley. It feels made for you, everything special hidden just out of sight, and damn, you look good in it.
The performance ski market at its most prestigious levels is a who's who of established brands known the world over. Bogner, Kjus, and Moncler are known for exceptional goods that have served their owners for years. On a recent trip to Aspen over the holidays, the slopes have become littered with these iconic logos. How do you stand out? What sets one $2,100 jacket apart from another?
"When catering to the men's market it's all about technical," says Heifara (co-designer in charge of merchandising and sales). "Technical (waterproof, breathable) garments are a mandatory aspect of making ski clothes. Our product needs to be just as waterproof, breathable, and warm as the next company's. We try to think beyond technical and offer a well-considered, perfectly designed garment. For us this means superior functionality, easy fits, and items that transition seamlessly from one environment to the next." Moreover, a piece that can be worn at the après table or walking around town as much as it can be schussing down pistes is of prime concern. Of course Aztech Mountain is going to keep you dry, but having a Loro Piana tag sewn inside certainly helps with the comfort.
Having grown up in Aspen, son to a lifelong ski instructor, Rutgers is likely one of a few in the industry as perfectly positioned to create such a line. "Aspen is a very special place for us. Although we are in New York City so much in order to run a global business we get to go back home every six weeks (or at least try to). A very important message we try to communicate through Aztech Mountain is Aspen's rich history from a mining town to the international destination it is today. There are so many events and characters that have come from Aspen's past that are worth celebrating: from the Silver Queen (the sculpture and its disappearance) and 10th Mountain Division to legends like Stein Eriksen, John Denver, and Hunter S. Thompson, the list goes on and on and on. It's really remarkable what has taken place in such a small town."
Access and exclusivity are other key differentiators as Aztech Mountain is only sold via its own e-commerce site, at Barneys New York (in the Madison Avenue store and online) and at Performance Ski in Aspen and just about 10 other high-end specialty ski shops globally. In the recognition department, just last month the brand was awarded the Brandnew award for design at the ISPO show in Munich, marking it as one of the trendsetters on the world stage. Looking ahead they will continue their capsule collection for Barneys featuring stylized essentials for the mountain summer: hiking shorts, windbreakers, polos, and more.
We expect big things for the gentlemen behind the brand. As they say, "Timeless silhouettes, refined craftsmanship and the highest quality materials continue to serve as the backbone of Aztech Mountain." If you can get your hands on a piece, prepare to be noticed.