Welcome to "DEEP DIVE," where we explore the inspirations behind our beloved Engineered Garments.
Today's focus: the enduring legacy behind the "Climbing Pant," a testament to the origins of American outdoor wear.
"Heavy Duty Ivy," the foundation of Engineered Garments' Fall Winter 2023 collection, draws from icons of outdoor gear like Filson, Zero King, Lake Land, and Woolrich. Yet, the narrative of the American rugged wear, and thus the season's collection, remains incomplete without acknowledging Yvon Chouinard—prolific climber, environmentalist, and the visionary behind Patagonia.
The descendant of French-Canadian fur trappers, Chouinard was born in 1938 in Lisbon, Maine. In 1947, as his mother had enough of Maine's biting winters, Chouinard's upbringing shifted to Burbank, California. Disenchanted with schooling (he spoke solely French then), he gravitated toward nature. Joining the Southern California Falconry Club, he initially learned to descend cliffs before discovering the upward potential, sparking his enthusiasm for rock climbing.
After audacious expeditions in Wyoming's Teton and Wind River Ranges, including a pioneering ascent of Gannett Peak, Chouinard turned his focus to gear. Displeased with the soft iron in European pitons—crucial for climbers—he delved into blacksmithing, crafting, and vending his pitons for $1.50 each to fellow Yosemite climbers. He embodied the hippie ethos, scavenging for food, trading empty beer bottles for cash, and running operations out of a van for seasonal surfing and climbing pursuits.
By 1970, Chouinard Equipment was the largest U.S. climbing gear manufacturer, renowned for carabiners, chocks, and a bamboo ice ax enshrined in the Museum of Modern Art. Not merely a tycoon, Chouinard infused an unwavering, principled ethos—fusing hippie ideals with functional simplicity—into his business.
This mindset showed him functional aspects overlooked by others. During a 1970 Scottish winter expedition, a rugby jersey caught his eye. Constructed from heavyweight cotton, reinforced with herringbone twill piping, and outfitted with rubber buttons for rugby's rigors, the shirt proved ideal for climbing. Additionally, its vibrant blue, accented by red and yellow stripes, challenged the muted tones of U.S. activewear.
An instant hit among Californian circles, Chouinard imported rugby shirts from England, expanding to Scottish cagoules, Austrian wool gloves, and Coloradoan reversible beanies. This clothing bore the "Patagonia" label, named in honor of Chounaird's two-month climb of Mt. Fitz Roy, documented in the 1968 film Mountain of Storms.
Patagonia's success lay in defying convention. The Engineered Garments Climbing Pant draws from a vintage Patagonia gem, dubbed "Standup Pants." Crafted by Chouinard from #10 Duck Canvas, a robust 15 oz fabric typically used for hammocks and floor mats, they were so rigid they could stand on their own. Despite their eccentric appearance, climbers flocked to buy the pants.
This unconventional spirit endures in Engineered Garments designer Daiki Suzuki's Climbing Pants. First produced in 2003, the Climbing Pant touts superior detailing, beginning with the chaps-like reinforcement patches on the front, safeguarding against coarse rock abrasions. In addition to strength, these patches, ending just below the knee, offer freedom of movement like an action back.
The seat features additional reinforcement, forming spacious back pockets with a Velcro closure at the fabric's top. Alongside signature Engineered Garments attributes—a double button waist closure and a waistband drawstring—Daiki adds a zipper side pocket, safeguarding essential items.
The Engineered Garments Climbing Pant transcends homage; it embodies Yvon Chouinard's paradigm, harmonizing form and function to fashion an exquisite garment.
The Climbing Pant is available in the following fabrics:
Brown 12oz Duck Canvas
Red 12oz Duck Canvas
Black Heavyweight Cotton Ripstop
Dk. Navy Heavyweight Cotton Ripstop
Olive Heavyweight Cotton Ripstop
Navy 8W Corduroy
Olive Cotton 8W Corduroy
Olive CP Weather Poplin