Meet the creative powerhouse behind ski label Cordova
WORDS BY FLORA MACDONALD JOHNSTON
“The passion is in the chase, and always looking forward,” says Jane Seim, creative director and co-founder of ski label Cordova. Like the mountains that she and Cody, her husband and co-founder, adore so much, Jane is enviably calm, cool and beautiful, with cliff-edge cheekbones. But, ask her about the intricacies of skiwear design and suddenly she becomes as animated and excited as an on-set snow storm.
When studying Cordova’s latest AW22 collection consisting of their now iconic ski-suits, jackets, bum bags and salopettes (all newly launched here at KOIBIRD), you will likely notice two things; they embrace colour (retro and ski-racer shades of pastels, red, blue and white are key), and every piece is impeccably tailored with a formed fit.
“I am obsessed with fit,” says Jane, “I am constantly developing millimetres here and there across the body, reworking each piece, and I listen and respond to customer feedback. I want her [the consumer] to put on our suits and pieces and feel beautiful, powerful and confident. Feel her body radiate. The measurements really do matter.”
The obsession with form long predates the birth of Cordova. Jane and Cody would often escape to a family-owned ski cabin outside Seattle, “think shaggy 70s carpets and a mirror wall,” says Jane, and while Jane was once a snowboarder (I can hear the cries of skiers globally), she transferred to skiing like Cody. “It was like someone lit a fire, my body clicked with the mountain,” she says. But with this new found freedom, Jane discovered there were no ski brands creating clothing that were functional, fashion forward and developed specifically for the female body, “it was male designers adding women's clothing to their collections, nothing was quite right and the styles were off, I realised there was a gap in the market.”
And a gap there was, after spending months tracking down the best technical fabrics and working with a tailor in Canada, the duo released their first collection in 2016 with three core styles of ski-suit - which ultimately sold out. Now, Cordova is a globally recognised brand working with multiple “carefully chosen partners”, across the globe. “We have equal traction in both the US and Europe, but increasingly seeing popularity in China,’ says Cody, “since they've built so many ski slopes in the run-up to the Olympics there has been spiked interest.”
In the wake of success from their first collection, Jane and Cody have worked hard to develop skiwear with innovative fabrics. Their base layers are created with repurposed coffee beans which help retain heat and moisture when in motion, and their ski-suits, jackets and salopettes have membrane technology, breathable Gore-Tex, 4-way stretch fleece waterproof linings, and that’s just to name a few. Not only does this all help to insulate the body “but it makes the garments more like compression wear,” says Jane.
Aside from the fabric quality, the USP is undeniable in the fact their designs are always highly fashionable. “We definitely have a retro DNA,” says Jane, “there are hints of nostalgia, but our clothing needs to feel super modern. It allows a piece to live for a long time.” The new gingham prints and 80’s colour palette, especially seen on the Star Gingham Wool puffa and the contrasting colour blocked Up & Down ski-suit, are highly recognisable and bold. “I don't want to create something that is trend-led, that will be done in one season,” says Jane, “the pieces should be something that lives in her ski wardrobe for years, and maybe passed onto the daughter, and sun. Colour is modern.”
So what does the future hold for the unstoppable Cordova team? “We've just hired some more team members, despite the fact we're all over the globe,” says Cody. And in terms of design? “We want to invest more in the base layers and more casual clothing,’ says Jane, “and we might also do a gender fluid capsule.”