Teton Brothers, a lesser-known yet highly competitive outdoor technical brand from Japan, announced it would launch its winter backcountry apparel collection in the United States this fall. The Teton Bros Fall/Winter 2015 Collection is designed by Nori and Junko Suzuki, and its roots stem from the backcountry of Niseko, Japan.
“We have been planning to enter the U.S. market for some time now…”
Teton Bros began in 2007 when founder Nori Suzuki, an accomplished Japanese mountaineer, took inspiration from his personal travels around the Western U.S., and created his own line of outerwear. After looking at the current offerings in Japan at the time, Suzuki saw his move into apparel as a necessity.
Pieces are available in both men’s and women’s, and are described as elegant, functional and rugged. The natural color palette is infused with greens and blues inspired from old Japanese kimonos. The collection includes premium textiles from Polartec, Pertex and Primaloft. SGB caught up with Nori Suzuki to find out more about the North American launch.
Why is now the time for Teton Bros to come to the United States? We have been planning to enter the U.S. market for some time now. We have been coming to ski with athletes and test products around the Western U.S. for the last five years. We believe the market is now looking for high-quality garments and we are confident that our brand and Made by Japan philosophy will attract U.S. consumers.
Are you working on a rep/dealer network? What marketing will support the launch? This year we have partnered with PPC (Prime Pacific Connections), a firm managing international brands, to establish the brand and build a solid foundation for the U.S. market, and they will engage with retailers and sales reps. Our marketing technique is very user oriented. We strive to engage with customers about products with a large ambassador outreach. Initial marketing will be geared toward the retailers with a larger push to end consumers when product is available in specialty retailers in Winter 2016.
Where does the name come from, and what’s with the Tetons being such a classic word in American mountaineering? I took most of my inspiration for Teton Bros from the times I spent in Jackson Hole, WY. I learned the definition of big mountain skiing there, and I wanted all my friends in Japan to know what it’s all about. I thought creating a line of technical wear not found in any other Japanese brands would help bring the outdoor culture found in the U.S. to Japan. I think the name “Teton Bros” really represents where the brand inspiration was founded.
“Using feedback from the mountain staff, guides and national athletes throughout the years, we have tailored our products with unique pattern construction to add functionality not found in larger brands.”
What differentiates Teton Bros from other European mountaineering brands making inroads in the U.S. market? I believe we offer a product quite unique compared to products in the industry. We have very high-quality garments with unique cuts and colors. I hope through quality and functionality, Teton Bros can represent a new breed of brands from Japan.
Besides using premium ingredient brands like Polartec to establish credibility and quality, what else about the brand will help it be successful both globally and in the U.S.? Polartec is a great brand and they‘ve been an especially close partner in Japan to bring technical fabrics to athletes. We work with multiple other high-end component brands to bring a collection of innovative, technical outerwear to the market. We started testing our first product in 2007 with ski patrollers in Niseko, Japan. Using feedback from the mountain staff, guides and national athletes throughout the years, we have tailored our products with unique pattern construction to add functionality not found in larger brands. Our products hold a large focus in the backcountry ski and snowboard market.
What are your plans for the 2015-16 U.S. ski season? We’re going to have a booth at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. We’re excited to show our garments and share our vision to people who love the outdoors. We’re planning to visit some places and retailers with our garments after Outdoor Retailer. Hopefully we can go to the mountains with shop staff to test our garments in deep powder.
–Interview by SGB Managing Editor Aaron H. Bible