Aspen, Colo., is a long way, geographically speaking, from the small Bavarian village of Oberstaufen, Germany. But for 95 vibrant years, visionary skiwear entrepreneur and Sport Obermeyer founder Klaus Obermeyer has lived an action packed adventure, demonstrating a consistent commitment to sustainable and ethical planetary principles that were instilled in his youth.Obermeyer was born in 1919 on a family farm where upcycling and repurposing were daily necessities, not trending topics on Pinterest. Reducing consumption, simplifying commerce, establishing mutually beneficial relationships, and stepping lightly on the planet continue to be the touchstones of this family-run, privately held company based in Aspen. For over 60 years, this dynamic winter clothing manufacturer has been future focused and forward thinking.
Teaching Tarzan to SkiKlaus Obermeyer arrived in Aspen in 1947, engineering degree and mountaineer creds in hand. At age 27, he was one of the first ski instructors at the newly opened Aspen Ski School, tutoring celebs Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, and Lex Barker. His keen observational eye noted,
It was so cold that people wore long wool coats up the ski lifts, but then they couldn’t ski down wearing them.
The ever-resourceful recycler,
cut up the down quilt that my mother made for me to bring to North America and made my first warm jacket. It looked like hell, but it made skiing a little more comfortable. I sold it to Gary Cooper for $250.
Sport Obermeyer was officially birthed in the attic of Obermeyer’s Aspen home. The first factory warehouse opened in 1961, and the innovations have not slowed since. Obermeyer’s current passion is incorporating the use of renewable materials into the sportswear line.
Innovative I-Grow for Kids
The Sport Obermeyer product line is deep and broad, but the children’s designs are especially fun. Popular choices like the Girls Chakra Jacket and Boys Sidewinder Jacket utilize Obermeyer’s patented, extended wear feature. The “I-Grow” line of children’s skiwear demonstrates the commitment to conservation, extending the life cycle of every item purchased. By snipping colored threads from the pant cuffs and jacket sleeves, parents can access up to two additional inches of fabric in their child’s garment to accommodate growth spurts.
Go Girls, Go!An interactive, online innovation is underway right now in the form of the “Build Your Own Outfit” contest. The winner receives her choice of an Obermeyer jacket or pant. Readers have through January 16th to create a favorite Girls’ look and submit the image to the company’s FaceBook entry page. The final round will be the Boys’ Kids outfit contest, January 17 – February 2.
Closing the CircleToday Klaus Obermeyer lives the life he was born into, nurturing his own 100-acre farm, complete with beehives and plentiful fruit orchards. Fall finds him canning fruit from his apple, plum, pear, cherry, and apricot trees. His mindful respect for nature’s beauty and fragility is reflected in his talk and his walk:
This echos something I read yesterday by Paul Hawken: “Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.”
To be able to experience frozen water falling down in the form of ice crystals, waking up to a fresh carpet of snow every morning… it was and still is a miracle.
What new revolutionary miracles does Klaus Obermeyer still have up his Ski Contour™ articulated sleeves? What gifts will his second century as devoted and visionary Planetary Caretaker bring to us all?