Stio Designer, Courtney Cedarholm, shares the inspiration and design details of the Spring ‘18 Downwater Anorak. A staff favorite, the Downwater Anorak style pays tribute to the history of the mountain west.
The inspiration for the Downwater Anorak happened very organically through the conceptual design process. We at Stio like to pull inspiration from vintage outdoor gear, especially pieces from the west. The practical elements in vintage pieces that still work well today are always influential. Those elements paired with high quality modern materials bring together classic and timeless functionality with advanced fabric performance.
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and get access to original ski pieces from past decades. I was drawn to the museum’s vast collection of 10th Mountain Division uniforms. The 10th Mountain Division is the only unit of its size in the US Military to undergo extreme training in arctic and alpine environments. Learning about their rigorous conditioning in the Colorado mountain ranges while getting to feel the light cotton fabrics of their uniforms made me freezing just thinking about it.
We were also inspired by the clever use of materials. The original anoraks were reversible, so the soldiers could hide in the snow with the white fabric side showing or be in standard army uniform with the green fabric side showing. While the silhouettes and design features of the anoraks evolved through the years, they all shared in the same large, external, carryall pocket that provided easy access to essentials and they all had wide collars designed for easier (and lots of) layering underneath. These simple, yet functional elements were designed specifically for foot soldiers to endure the tough conditions of a high alpine winter and were key in designing our Downwater Anorak.
The most obvious element in our design related to the 10th Mountain Division is the neckline shape and construction. The single piece neckline is a clever fit and construction detail that we wanted to incorporate. We modernized it by adjusting the zipper height to match our current outdoor jackets. The construction also creates a more open neckline that allows for comfortable layering, which is essential for the ever-changing temps of summer days in the mountains. The idea for the front kangaroo pocket also came from the 10th Mountain Division uniforms. I love how these pockets were so big and functional. We incorporated the oversized concept, but tweaked the design with simple clean lines and positioned the pocket in a more flattering location. Another modern feature we added is a security zipper pocket designed to hold a cell phone or wallet. A more subtle draw from the 10th Mountain Division anoraks are the double needle seaming and the attention to detail at the interior of our jacket. We used a contrast color to clean finish the interior seams — so while the anorak is not reversible, the attention to detail at the interior is just as important as seen on the exterior. This finish adds strength to an already very strong piece.
Ultimately, we feel like we designed a piece with modern materials that stayed true to optimal functionality for hiking, camping, river tripping and summer in the mountains while honoring the heritage style of the early explorers of these mountains. The fabric is what makes this piece really meet our modern mountain standards. It is 100% Nylon and windproof by the fabric structure. It offers UPF 50+ rating without chemical treatment and lightweight wearability, which makes the jacket great for water or trail adventures. The strong fabric also has a high tear strength and abrasion resistance making it your best friend at the campsite. Lastly, it is treated with a DWR finish to shed water on the river or when caught on the trail in a passing storm.
As we continue to draw from our western heritage, we will definitely keep learning more about the 10th Mountain Division history and explore what, why and how they wore items that can inspire our designs. I think it is very important to understand the history of clothing, materials and culture to be able to appreciate what is modern and where it came from. We will continue to research all kinds of apparel history and honor the early mountaineers whose adventures inspire our adventures, along with the gear we get out there with for the epic and everyday.