While a style brand teaming up with an outdoor brand is certainly not unprecedented, it isn’t commonplace either. Legendary footwear brand Cole Haan have teamed up with equally legendary outdoor powerhouse Mountain Hardwear to produce an outerwear collection designed for the “urban explorer.” This is Cole Haan’s first venture into technical outerwear, expanding on their established, more dress-oriented outerwear line. The resulting ZerøGrand collection features jackets designed with outdoor performance in mind, but geared toward city-dwellers. Each piece features Mountain Hardwear’s technical features and innovations, which have been proven in the harshest environments, veiled in sophisticated style that is perfect for the city and coincides nicely with Cole Haan’s brand image.
David Maddocks, CMO & GM of Business Development for Cole Haan, looked to partner with the best of the best in outdoor apparel when designing the ZerøGrand line. “Cole Haan makes the most technical dress footwear in the world and we wanted to partner with the most technical, high-performance apparel maker in the world, Mountain Hardwear,” Maddocks said. “[We] are two extraordinary brands who understand each other in the spirit of like-mindedness.”
Robert Fry, Mountain Hardwear’s Global Director of Product Merchandising and Design, said that the collection takes tough outdoor performance and tweaks it for use in everyday life. “This collection has been proven on the mountain and refined for the city,” Fry said. One of the challenges Mountain Hardwear faced was transitioning from designing technical outdoor pieces to relaxed everyday outerwear. It took a shift in mindset. Fry said that they “worked closely with Cole Haan to solve this problem the same way we do for outdoor athletes: by working closely with users, applying design ingenuity and state-of-the-art technologies and, most of all, testing, refining and testing again.” They were also able to pull from some of their previous designs and colorways. “We were able to incorporate some colors that pop, including Mountain Steam, Dark Compass and Red Element which are seen throughout the collection. Though, it was important for us to balance these rich, eye-catching colorways with more subtle options such as the Stone Green, Titanium and Black, so there is something for everyone,” Fry said.
On the marketing side, Maddocks anticipates a distinct lack of challenges. When asked about what concerns he had, he replied, “None whatsoever. This is about the customer and how they are living their lives. There is a universal desire for style, craft and engineering and Cole Haan leads in delivering this combination.” While some would be tempted to take the collection on their next outdoor adventure, Fry says that the pieces aren’t designed for the serious outdoor enthusiast. “The collection utilizes the same high-performance fabrics and insulation Mountain Hardwear pioneered for the needs of mountaineers, skiers, hikers and other outdoor athletes. However, these styles are not intended for the outdoor market; these pieces have been created to meet the needs of the on-the-go city lifestyle.”
Form a technical standpoint, the centerpiece of the collection is the Commuter Jacket. It looks to be based off of the Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Down Jacket (both The Commuter and Nitrous pack 800-fill Q-SHIELD water-resistant down), but with some important twists — the biggest being the fit. While the Nitrous fits more closely to your body and is more tailored through the midsection, the Commuter Jacket offers a more relaxed and roomy fit — ideal for wearing over a collared shirt. The sleeves are cut a bit longer, to fit nicely over the cuff of your gloves. They also ditch the stretchy cuff from the Nitrous, opting for a clean straight cuff sans elastic. It’s technical, but for city-scale adventures.