Owner Operator, the Brooklyn-based gear brand started in 2011 by snowboarders Peter Sieper and Steven Kimura, gets some punches in during the warmer months, releasing scout shorts and packable anoraks, but when the cold weather rolls in the gloves – ironically enough – come off. It's no small wonder these guys take outwear seriously: The duo grew up carving upstate New York's mountains in the nineties, when downhill fashion was a new concept and riders were looking to leave their style mark.
"Owner Operator's values come from those formative years, when independence, creativity, and idealism were king," says Kimura. "We're still in love with snowboarding, but we found that there was little in the modern snowboarding scene that we still really connected with."
The company was launched as an alternative to more corporate ski and snowboard brands. Owner Operator is fanatical about sourcing, transparency, and quality. In order to keep production hyperlocal, the designers take their work to factories in New York City's garment district, where Singer sewing machines have been humming away for a hundred years. This does increase overhead, but it also means that OO's products are technically sound as well as cleverly devised.
The must-own Operator piece for the fall is the Mark VIII parka. This classic coat combines a water-resistant nylon upper shell with a lower body of heavyweight wool, which naturally retains its thermal properties in the off chance that rain or snow do get through. A fully quilted interior offers further insulation. Does this jacket belong on the slopes? Absolutely, but it comes from the big city and has that New York swagger.
"Part of our goal with Owner Operator was to make clothing that worked for snowboarding but was also a part of our own largely urban lifestyle," says Kimura. "Our parka is just as much at home in a snowstorm at Mt. Baker as it is walking the streets of Brooklyn." [$570; owneroperator.com]