By Chris Meehan | Mar 16, 2015
Not even a year out of the gates, Sync Performance is introducing one of the most innovative products to the ski industry: a puffy jacket that delivers a full 360-degrees of stretch.
The company is quickly establishing itself as a leader in ski-racing clothing in the U.S., says Co-President Phil Shettig.
"There are a couple of reasons why we chose a very niche of a niche in the performance outdoor sports world," Shettig says. "One, we have a lot of familiarity with this athlete, they have a great story to tell. For these kids it's seven days a week, all year long. Two, there isn't a brand in North America that's stood up and said, 'We're going to be the brand that defines this sport for North America. Spyder used to have that position. They abdicated it."
"Teams and clubs are a really important area for us," says Shettig, noting that the University of Denver ski team tests the company's products. "They're a big R&D partner for us. Using our gear, last year they won their 22nd national championship." The company also works in an unofficial capacity with U.S. Ski Team members and other elite skiers in designing their gear.
The testing led to Sync's commercial introduction in 2014, with technical ski-racing suits, training layers, and packs and bags. All designs are based on alpine racers' needs.
Not everyone needs a skintight padded suit designed to take slalom gates at high speed. Other snow athletes might want some protection they can wear under their other clothes, like the $89 Palmer Stealth shirt. "The idea was to make it comfortable and easy to wear," Shettig says. It uses the company's Isoarmor design, which he says is a highly articulated padding system for athletes.
"One of the most exposed areas are joints -- knees and elbows," Shettig adds. "It's the hardest part to cover without inhibiting movement. So Sync Performance's protection is designed for as much movement as possible."
Expect more of this type of product from the company. "We're working on up to fourth generation already, including padded tops and back protectors," Shettig sats. We don't consider it safety, but performance."
Now, about that puffy jacket. It was designed out of need, too. Sync went out the U.S. Ski Team at Copper Mountain for early-morning practice runs in freezing weather with little light. "They have all their gear on: padded race suits, back protectors, big puffy jackets and they can hardly move," says Shettig.
He saw a need for something different so Sync started working with a mill to develop a proprietary knit fabric that's waterproof, breathable, durable, and stretchable in every direction, making it much easier to move in. It's coupled with an equal blend of down and Primaloft for insulation.
The company launched its first Kickstarter project in early March. Its $15,000 goal was fully funded within a week. The jacket, which will come out in September 2015, will have an MSRP of $289. That puts it in competition with jackets from Sierra Designs and Obermeyer.
Currently the company is manufacturing in a number of places, including Asia, Poland, and Switzerland, but the company will also manufacture in Denver. "We'll have a program up and running this fall that's quick-turn, high-quality, small-batch production."
The company hopes to do more manufacturing in the U.S. because it doesn't need to make the massive orders many Asian production facilities now require. "That's something we think we can address with domestic manufacturing."
Opportunities: "Engaging that broader base of mountain athlete," Shettig says. "We need to explain to them that because we are working with these elite-level athletes you can trust the level of quality and performance we're producing."
Challenges: "We have a list of things to do as long as our arms and we can only do a few things really well. We've got to pick the most important things and prioritize."
Needs: "To broadcast the message and the vision. We need those kinds of portals to do that to reach that broader audience," Shettig says.