There are few brands that have been able to transcend their original space to have cultural impact globally, while not losing sight of their heritage. Columbia is one of them. Although my working relationship with them started seven years ago, my personal relationship with the brand dates back three decades.
Columbia was founded in 1938 as a hat manufacturer in Portland. However it wasn’t until the brand was helmed by Gert Boyle in 1970 that their true vision came into focus. Gert’s perfectionism not only held the product to high standards, but she became the center of the brand’s iconic marketing campaigns with her “Tough Mother” persona.
The brand’s Pacific Northwest home influenced their propensity for outdoor gear. Silhouettes paired with innovative technology set the brand apart in the worlds of hiking, fishing, camping, and more. In 1986 they introduced the 3-in-1 Bugaboo Jacket, which is how I first came to know the brand, as I began seeing it all-around the streets of New York. I personally believe Columbia birthed fashion-tech, specifically with the Bugaboo, as people began switching from their shearling jackets to technical outerwear.
Kith began working with Columbia in 2015, with our first partnership being a redesign of our Exeter Parka as part of the City Never Sleeps collection. Later that year I worked with them to re-introduce the Bugaboo, which included a full collection as well as a book. We continued our work in technical winter-wear in 2016 with the launch of Kith Aspen, a concept we returned to in 2018, where we crafted a collection inspired by a specific location. It was also in 2018 when we translated that approach to Spring, as we introduced the Element Exploration Agency (EEA) collection by hosting an experiential trip to Utah.
It’s been a pleasure to channel the heritage of a brand I truly love through our lens over the years, and to add to their unparalleled archive.