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Some genres of clothing are all about function, not form. Generally speaking, the more athletic the pursuit, the more basic the uniform – when's the last time anyone's Tour de France get-up ever surprised you?
The same applies to mountaineering. Where skiiers and snowboarders often lean into their fashion side and bring lewk after lewk to the slopes, when you're scaling up a mountainside there are other priorities in mind. Yet within this survivalist sport, Canadian brand Ostrya Equipment makes clothes for thriving, not just surviving.
With their goal of "creat[ing] technical garments with a progressive aesthetic," they're bringing fun back to the rugged outdoors. Bold colors and playful silhouettes – hell, even their distinctive swirl logo – belie their products' real-deal functionality. Why sacrifice aesthetics when you're after high performance? With Ostrya, you've got the best of both worlds.
When good friends François-Xavier Tétreault and Simon-David Fortin founded Ostrya just three years ago in Montreal, they committed to getting their hands on every piece of the product. Even as the brand has grown, that's remained true: rather than receiving fabric that's already cut, the two co-founders and their team cut, sew and fill their jackets, making sure each aspect of craftsmanship is up to their standards.
That hard-won, small-scale labor cost is admittedly passed onto the price tag. Their down parkas sell for north of $1,000 (although are currently on sale half-off, an astounding deal for such a premium product), as producing everything locally costs much more than overseas. Their materials are high-end not just for the exclusivity factor but because it makes a real impact on sustainability, just as small-scale production helps combat the environmental wreckage of fast fashion.
Lucky for them (and for us), they found their audience, finding broad appeal while staying true to the specific culture of Montreal. Their clothes reflect the vibrancy, the color, and the intersection of outdoor and street culture of that Canadian capital – and what better way to experience it secondhand than by diving into their collection?
As mentioned, Ostrya's Henson Down Parka is now on sale for $680 – and as their bulkiest layer, that's honestly a steal. Built for a Canadian winter, it's suited even for the extremest cold, filled with a double layer of cruelty-free goose down. The construction shows off their thoughtfulness around performance: all pockets are easily accessible, all seams are wind-proof, because the alternative just isn't feasible when you're working your way through an ice climb.
For a lighter-weight option, the Torpid Down Jacket ($285) and Torpid Down Vest ($226) look and feel just as great. Both can serve as an outer layer in the fall or an intermediate layer in the colder months, while also stuffing into their own side pocket for maximum transportability. As the name suggests, they're also filled with that same premium down, packing serious warmth without a ton of weight.
The Surplus Fleece Jacket ($169) and Surplus Fleece Vest ($155) speak to another aspect of Ostrya's manufacturing: they're made with surplus (ie. leftover) fabrics from other retailers. This goes a long way towards eliminating environmental waste in the industry, and helps keep their price tag lower in the process. The design is still just as seamless, with reinforced shoulders and neck, and a cozy, tactile feel.
Our favorite of the bunch, though, is the Bluebird Shearling Pull-On ($126), named for the blue-sky weather that often follows a night of snowfall. The stitching is the star here, with a unique curving accent that dips just below the front zipper, and orange ribbing at the cuffs and hem that pops against the slate grey. It's got a sophisticated cool that you just don't see in your everyday fleece pullover.
Here we're back to the world of down, with puffy Bivouac Down Pants (on sale for $267) that match the Henson Down Parkas up above. Their filled down ribbings are very much giving the Michelin Man, with a bright orange color that leans into the playfulness of that shape. It's astonishing to remember that a product like this is totally handmade in their Montreal workshop, and even crazier that it all fits into the provided "stuff sack."
Then we've got two options whose names suggest their contrast in structure: the Hardy Ripstop Pants ($142) and Alpine Soft Shell Pants ($194.) The former, no surprise, are stiffer and stitched more like a denim pant, with ripstop fabrics designed to prevent any tearing and ripping. That means they can handle the friction of even the toughest boulders, while the Soft Shell Pants bring the waterproof protection you want for snow and ice in all forms.
Even under all the layers, you can never go wrong with a stylish tee. Ostrya has several to choose from, starting with the Bloc Long Sleeve Equi-Tee ($57), which has a very aprés-ski air of athleisure to it. Though the cut is simple, the cursive handwriting on the back is totally unique, with a dashed-off sense of imperfection that only lends to its cool. Of the shorter sleeves, we dig the whimsical Sunrise Equi-Tee (on sale for $48), which feels almost childlike in its script and illustration.
It's yet another example of how Ostrya doesn't take itself too seriously, in an industry where the "extreme sports" branding can start to skew a little humorless. Whether you're a once-in-a-blue-moon ski bunny or a hardcore mountaineer, they make pieces that are welcome additions to any winter wardrobe. With retailers like SSENSE and other tastemakers already taking notice, they're already scaling new heights.
Sales like these might not last for long, so we're happy we caught them early.
Get ready to move mountains at ostryaequipment.com.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO LOVE OSTRYA EQUIPMENT
- They also have an extensive archive of on-sale clothes from past collections, including windbreaks, pants, and even a handy chalk bag.
- Their clothes are designed to be not just sturdy, but also easily repairable, to eliminate any need for replacement that would only drive up material waste.
- Their design process starts with the materials, so their products are always perfectly suited to the means used to produce them.
- Even as they scale, they've remained committed to making 100% of their clothing in Canada, a rare distinction among competitors who resort to cheaper (but often unethical) overseas labor.
- Their community blog features spotlights on different, diverse outdoor adventurers, highlighting just how functional their products really are.