Break out the onesies
March 18, 2016
It's time to scour the attics and shake the mothballs off the ski gear that has been hidden for the past few decades: the '80s are back. If you were prescient (or lazy) enough to keep those onesies that you rocked on the slopes so many years ago, then you'll be able to outfit yourself in some of the hottest styles showing up on the slopes. For those who hoped that those days were long gone, our condolences go out to you. While neon colors have been sneaking back into catalogs for the past few years, the real comeback kid is the onesie.
As you'd expect, a onesie is a one-piece ski suit — a look that has been relegated to small children since they fell out of favor in the early '90s. While the one-piece has been spotted on the snow in recent years, it was mostly seen during Closing Day festivities. However, skiers and snowboarders are now donning these eye-catching suits throughout the year. Why the resurgence? It's a matter of fun and, for some, fashion.
Keep it bright and tight
It's not surprising that dressing in eye-catching colors and/or retro styles can garner a lot of attention on the slopes. For Retro Ski Shop founder R.J. Wimett, that was entirely the point.
"We loved the end of the (ski season) year and loved dressing up like idiots," Wimett said. "Dressed in a onesie, everyone notices you and you have a better time."
Wimett and co-founder Harry Ward started Retro Ski Shop almost three years ago on a whim, creating a website to sell a few items from their large collection of retro gear that they would wear and lend to friends for closing days, pond skims and other applicable occasions. The items sold quickly, and the pair started rummaging around thrift stores for more onesies, along with other goods such as skis, poles, hats and goggles.
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"Our motto is 'keep it bright and tight,'" Wimett said with a laugh.
That focus seems to be spot-on. The onesies are the most popular option, but Wimett said that anything in neon colors also gets snapped up quickly. However, it's not everyday wear for everyone. Seeing a need, Retro Ski Shop decided to offer a rental option, which created an opportunity for a broader market. Wimett said that he ships a lot of gear to college dorm rooms and supplies outfits for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
He's even clothed participants for corporate events.
"Some of the higher-ups from Google came to Vail in January, earlier this year," Wimett said. "We sent them 13 onesies. … It was their own event, just them up there, gaping out."
Local roots, new suits
The onesie trend is not limited to vintage finds from a thrift shop or storage. Some companies are manufacturing new suits that pay homage to the original gear but incorporate new technology that makes them even warmer and more durable.
Edwards resident Sean LaFaver conceived the idea of Delaryian, a company that is making new onesies, with some college buddies over "a few too many" beers. The group wanted to bring back the classic '80s outfit but with some changes.
"The way we've designed it, we want it to be a year-round piece," LaFaver said. "It has good waterproofing, ventilation and modern amenities, like a pocket for your phone for music and a hood that will fit around helmets."
The problem with the vintage suits, he said, is that they can be too thin and the waterproofing is often nonexistent. Their goal is to design something that is of good quality and very durable — warm enough to keep skiers toasty on cold days but that will hold up when skiing through trees.
You might see LaFaver on the mountain, testing out the product — just look for the 6-foot-3 guy in the powder blue and yellow suit.
"Skiing should be fun," he said. "Might as well have fun while we're doing it."
Flashback or fashion forward?
For most people, wearing the onesie is about having fun and making a statement.
"The world has gotten so crazy and fast-paced that I think people long for the good-old days when things were simple," said Mike Mueller, vice president of sales and marketing for GetOutfitted, a company that recently started renting vintage onesies. "A onesie is a time-traveling experience that helps you remember where you came from."
Minturn resident Kelly Paton agreed. Paton, who dons a shimmery light blue onesie for special occasions, said she has seen more people wearing the modern onesie, sometimes referred to as a "park bag" on the mountain. However, she tends to wear the one piece in an "ironic" way on Closing Day or to bars, as more of a joke.
"It's a fun thing because it's skiing: You don't have to take it too seriously," Paton said. "You can have a bit of flair."
Some skiers are zipping up the onesie for other, more fashion-forward reasons. Nathalie Cadet-James, president of LuxeFete, a special events company in Miami, recently rented a navy blue onesie from GetOutfitted for a ski trip to Crested Butte.
"I just recently started going to Colorado to go skiing and I wasn't sure if I wanted to invest in ski clothes," Cadet-James said. "Then I discovered GetOutfitted. The service was so easy. … When I saw this year that they had onesies, I was ecstatic. It was super fashionable."
Though many of the vintage suits come in bright colors or loud patterns, Cadet-James was drawn to the solid colors because she wanted something "restrained and elegant." She rented two navy suits, one with silver hardware and one with gold, and hit the slopes.
"Most people don't look at the fashion of skiing, but I'm from Miami … and fashion matters," Cadet-James said. "It (clothing) has become part of our skiing experience. Who doesn't want to have a personality? That's what dressing up is all about."
Fashion, function or fun, there's always a new trend to foresee or follow on the slopes. For those who are looking for the next big thing to return from the past, it seems that accessories are the subsequent frontier — items such as Freezy Freakies, the temperature-influenced color-change gloves.
"The rumors are true," Mueller said. "Freezy Freakies are coming back and are better than ever."
The gloves, which were available only in kids' sizes in the '80s, are now available in adult sizes, perfect for those who never really grew up. Featuring classic designs, the gloves were funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $60,000 from almost 1,400 backers. JammyPacks, the speaker-equipped fanny packs, have been seen on the mountain for several years since their inception, providing the perfect soundtrack to a tubular trick. Pit Vipers, a brand of durable sunglasses, harken back to the reflective wraparounds that were so popular when Glen Plake was first ripping up the slopes.
It's difficult to definitively decide what's going to be next, but trends tend to work cyclically. Who knows? Maybe rear-entry boots will be the next comeback kid.