Season 2 : Owner/Operator, Winter’12.

Launching their second season of classicly inspired, mountain ready outerwear, Owner/Operator, the New York based, two man Mountain apparel making team, continues to evolve both technically and design-wise. Taking a significant step forward from last season to the present, here, Steven Kimura and Peter Sieper give Secret Forts a look at the new goods and answer a few questions about what’s new across Old Chillerington River, at the Owner/Operator R&D Facility near the storied peak of Mt. Chiller.

On the eve of their Winter ’12 launch date, I fired off some Q’s to Owner/Operator owners and operators Pete Sieper and Steven Kimura. They fired back with some thoughtful and insightful A’s. Here’s the transcript.

SECRETFORTS: How and when did you guys know that you wanted to do Owner Operator?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We grew up snowboarding together in upstate New York. A few of years ago, we realized we really can’t relate to the outerwear products and companies that we see out there. We’re looking for something that seemed to take a step back: like a Frostline vest, or an old Gerry
jacket. Something with classic styling, but still fun. At the same
time though, on the mountain, you really need gear with modern
technical features and fabrics. On a trip out west, Owner Operator was
born and we’ve been working on it ever since.

SECRETFORTS: What were some of the challenges you learned from going from your first to second season?

OWNER/OPERATOR: Getting our first season done was a huge, multi-year learning experience. The second season was a chance for us to put all that
we’ve learned to practical use, and create a really cohesive
collection, explore more pieces and features, pare back to essentials,
and get even more excited about next season.

SECRETFORTS: What are some of the biggest differences between the two? Good, bad or both.

OWNER/OPERATOR: The first season felt like a little miracle. We were told more than once that there was no way you could make products like ours
domestically. It was exciting to have finally made something that we
could really take right out to the mountain. The second season
definitely felt different. Our confidence level is probably the
biggest change. We know what we want to make, and how to do it.
Knowing that you can make it happen inspires all kinds of new ideas,
and our dream of what Owner Operator can be. Our imagination is always
a few steps ahead of where we are, and it can wear us out at times,
but then we think about our friends taking the gear out at Powder
Mountain and we get excited all over again.

SECRETFORTS: From the quick looks in the video, it seems as though the gear has taken a big step both technically and design-wise. What’s new
for 2012?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’ve completely revamped our Operator 111 Parka and 112 Pant. The style is unchanged, but the pattern was rebuilt from the ground up to improve the fit and function. We’ve also added zip-venting to the
underarm of the parka, and inside leg of the pant. When you’re hiking,
it’s really important not to get overheated, or you’re going to end up
cold on the way back down the mountain. Likewise, when you are
shoveling, or running for the bus. On sunny days, it can be nice to
get a little breeze going too. We’ve also got a new mitten—it is super
simple, but it is the essential thing: wrist cuffs, soft interior,
good contrast colors.

SECRETFORTS: Owner Operator is made in the US. Talk a little about the challenges and benefits for a small company’s decision to manufacture in the states.

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’re sewing all of our outerwear right in the Garment District in New York City. We can walk into the factory anytime, and are in fact often in there working ourselves. Our garments are very complex to sew, and we need to be very hands-on so that we can be sure everything is done right. It’s expensive to sew in New York, but if you need a really
skilled workforce there’s no better place to do it.

SECRETFORTS: Aside from the hectic-ness(that’s a word) of getting 2012 ready to launch, I presume you’ve already been sketching and taking notes for next season. What can we expect from Owner Operator down the road?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’re already in deep with new designs for Winter 2012-13. Our gear takes a lot of time and revisions to make—before we’re even done
sewing a new sample, we can see where we want to make future changes.
It’s definitely a highly iterative process. Finding the right fabrics
and trims, especially with our focus on domestic sources, also takes a
fair amount of research and time. We’re always working on the future
lines. We’ve got Spring/Summer stuff in development for this year,
including some packs and surf trunks, as the same motivation that
guides our outerwear definitely applies to our quest for warm weather
gear and fun. We want to keep the good vibes going all year ‘round!

-Steven & Pete

Huge thanks to Peter and Steven for cramming this in to an already busy schedule. All photos courtesy of Owner/Operator.

Owner/Operator Mountain Outerwear
Twitter handle: @OperatorUSA
Available at Hickoree’s(online & Floor Two), Nepenthes and through Owner/Operator’s website.

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8 Responses to "Season 2 : Owner/Operator, Winter’12."

  1. MarcoBerlin says:

    really good and durable, timeless looking products!

    crazy, that they pull this together with a two man show!

    • mrforts says:

      I have the 111 parka and am way looking forward to riding in it. It’s a good weight, great fit, pared down, classic and technical. Stoked on it. Now we just need some f*cking snow.

  2. GT says:

    Get me in a pair of those Operator 112 pants in Tan please.

  3. Steve says:

    I will be buying a jacket come next season..
    Would have loved one but no XL’s left…

  4. Pingback: Video | Owner Operator Winter 2012 |

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