The new Salem Dyneema Down Parka from Foehn brings Dyneema fabric into an alpine parka.
Ever since launching in 2018, Foehn wanted to create a new perspective in lifestyle-ready, performance-driven outdoor apparel. Company founders Ingrid Sirois and Anthony Boronowski did just that with the brand's most popular item, the Brise Schoeller pant, originally designed for climbing. Now reaching beyond climbing into mountain biking, alpine running and the continual inclusion of additional mountain sports, the Quebec-based company has a true first: using Dyneema fabric for a down parka. Strongest Clothing Fabric
The Sept. 15 release of the Salem Dyneema Down Parka is, as Boronowski says, "very unusual in terms of application" for the fabric. Long known in the outdoor industry for shelters and bags, the fiber is relied upon for ultra-light strength. That same characteristic makes the new parka alpine ready.
"I've wanted to do it for years," Boronowski says about using Dyneema on apparel. "I've been playing with the idea, tinkering around for many, many years. It came together this season."
Foehn continues to add outdoor performance products to its lineup.
Sirois says the interplay of pairing the light and fragile down with the robust nature of Dyneema creates the unexpected. The result for the parka, including 800-fill responsibly sourced and traceable Allied Down, is meant to withstand temperatures up to minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Dyneema strength-to-weight ratio is 10 times that of steel but comes lightweight and continues to feature the minimalistic style Foehn has crafted.
That style, which Boronowski says is "for that person who appreciates design, performance and sustainability all in one piece of clothing," came from a passion for the outdoors from both Boronowski and Sirois.
"At some point, I asked Anthony why does climbing need to be so dorky?" Sirois says. "It all led to our first product, asking why everything needs to be the same with the same fabric, style, vision and point of view. We were a bit over it and just decided why are we not doing it?"
The addition of mountain biking apparel, including the Brise pant, evolved from the company's ... [+] origins in climbing.
Boronowski, a former professional skier turned product designer, and Sirois having worked in the sports equipment industry, launched Foehn, which means a dry, warm mountain wind, believing there was an opportunity within the performance outdoor apparel space to create something singular.
The Brise pant helped make it so and Foehn has seen steady year-over-year growth common for successful young companies. Foehn experienced 1000rowth in 2021, compared to 2020. Climbing has served as the key sport, anchored by the Brise pant, accounting for as much as half the company's business, with running and biking splitting the remaining share. Still, with a focus on "performance outdoor" instead of specific sport silos, Sirois says much of the product spans categories.
Boronowski says the co-founders started with the core idea of using best-in-class manufacturing techniques and choosing quality raw materials and partners, from Polartec to Dyneema. "The other thing is we are building into that an ethos of minimalism and focusing on what matters," Boronowski says, "what is needed to drive the best end-use result for the athlete."
Running has offered Foehn a new outlet for performance outdoor apparel.
Foehn has focused on products the founders want to create and continually work to make them better, borrowing on a successful concept from Arc'teryx. Boronowski remembers a recent comment from a customer asking when version 2.0 of the Brise pant was coming. "He was asking for 2.0, but it is probably Brise pant 12," Boronowski says. "It just doesn't end, it improves, and we learn."
Sirois says that while the climbing pant kicked off the brand and the recent addition of a highly successful summer-focused outdoor running line—the running bottoms have been steadily growing in popularity as the brand's most popular running product, although the Cortes long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts are also fast sellers—Foehn has a long-term vision to evolve with additional products that connect all the sports people do in the mountains across multiple seasons
"We started with climbing as a project and one product," Sirois says. "It just evolved." Mountain biking was the next organic extension, especially as the duo spent summers in Whistler near one of the hottest mountain biking locations in the world. They had people coming up to them asking what pants they were wearing (hint: it was the Brise pant). They saw the needs between climbing and biking were similar, so they extended the pants into a mountain biking line and gave a sport that has a bulk of product rooted in the motocross culture a completely new performance aesthetic.
Alpine movement is the focus for Foehn.
Then came running. Boronowski spent years sculpting the shape of the bottoms and worked with Polartec to continue to refine the product, with another update coming in early 2023. They partnered with Polartec on the Cortes shirts (expected to return to the lineup in February) using fabric from the company that Boronowski calls the best synthetic he's ever seen, paired with the Foehn aesthetic and cut. "It is really compelling," Boronowski says. "It doesn't look dorky. The application is insane, and it moves all your moisture and cools your body."
Everything Foehn does is rooted in the outdoors. "It is one place we love," Sirois says. "We mostly create stuff for ourselves." And that's a key differentiator for a small brand that doesn't have metrics it needs to hit for others. Instead, they focused on not sacrificing raw goods, placing a premium on the importance of sustainability when performance isn't compromised and creating gear they believe will work. "We just do it and if no one likes it, it is fine, we are going to make other products," Sirois says. "There is a beauty of being small. It gets complicated when you listen only to sales, and you can lose a bit of the vision and point of view."
That doesn't mean Foehn isn't about selling product. The best-sellers remain in the line with constant updates and the products that don't gain traction fade away. The recent outdoor boom, though, has led more people to new outdoor brands, keeping more Foehn products in the lineup.
As Foehn expands its active warmth line for its latest fall-winter collection with the twist of a Dyneema parka, it marks a continued expansion of the brand, but with a decidedly Foehn point of view.