Columbia Sportswear Co. and Jeffrey Kalinsky will introduce a line of co-branded outerwear pieces and boots this fall. The capsule collection is the first time that Portland, Ore.-based Columbia Sportswear has collaborated with another brand.
This story first appeared in the July 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“He’s a guy who understands how to make ultrasimple stuff really good,” said Tim Boyle, chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia Sportswear, of Kalinsky, who is the founder of the Jeffrey stores in New York and Atlanta, as well as executive vice president of designer merchandising at Nordstrom Inc. “Sometimes we tend to overcomplicate some of our garments. He took some of our existing styles and stripped them down to their bare essentials.”
The collection includes a down jacket, down vest, fleece pullover, fleece jacket and a version of the company’s winter Bugaboot boot — all in sleek, pared-down designs with slimmer fits. The line will be available in mid-September at the Jeffrey New York flagship in New York’s Meatpacking District, as well as five Nordstrom stores in Seattle; Bellevue, Wash.; Chicago; Bloomington, Minn., and McLean, Va.
Prices range from $180 for the boot to $495 for the down jacket. The down vest is $450, the fleece jacket is $250 and the fleece pullover is $215. The down pieces are available in five colors and the fleece in three colors.
“I bought a Columbia jacket, a puffy one, two years ago and became obsessed with it,” said Kalinsky. “I love Columbia’s ability to do something that has technology for performance but also comfort for everyday life.”
Exterior branding is limited to the Columbia “gem” logo placed on the lower hem of each of the garments. Inside, the label uses the gem logo and a plus sign with the Jeffrey logo.
“It’s the most left-alone product we’ve made. It’s the fabric and finish and fit that does the storytelling here. It’s so understated and there’s something very luxurious about it,” said Kathleen McNally, creative director at Columbia Sportswear, who worked with Kalinsky on the development of the line. “These are pieces that the guy can keep for a very long time.”
Columbia used high-quality Polartec fleece from Malden Mills and ultrafine microfiber for the down pieces, which were produced in the South Korean factories that make the company’s most advanced garments. Classic baffling and 800 fill-power goose down was melded with a trim fit for a sporty look. Exterior hand pockets with hidden zippers were placed on vertical seams for a streamlined silhouette.
The collaboration was sparked by a golfing buddy of Boyle’s, whose wife happened to be a top customer of the Jeffrey Atlanta store and recommended that the two parties look into a potential partnership.
“Our business has been very focused on the brand. We’ve had offers for collaborations before, but this one was unusual and a serendipitous connection,” said Boyle, who added the venture could continue for additional seasons, depending on its performance. “It’s very prestigious for the company to be connected to Jeffrey.”
Kalinsky has cultivated ongoing collaborations with a number of brands that he feels a personal affinity for, including Brooks Brothers, Lacoste and Sperry. Past collaborations include Gant, G.H. Bass & Co. and Clarks.
“To me, collaborations have become so ubiquitous and there are some really goofy ones that don’t seem to have a lot of value to them,” noted McNally. “This one is a serious partnership and the process was very thoughtful and makes a lot of sense.”