Staying Original with Orage
Staying Original with Orage

Staying Original with Orage

Mike Nick

By Taylor Boyd & Chris Dickerson, Seattle, WA: Founded by Evelyn Trempe and Eric D’anjou in 1989, Orage is certainly not new to the game. But as the brand enters its mid-twenties, things are as exciting as ever for the Montreal-based outerwear company. D’anjou bought the brand back from previous parent company Coalision in 2013, and with longtime Orage employee and freeskiing pioneer Mike Nick as VP of Marketing, Orage seems ready to cement itself as one of the most innovative brands in freeskiing. We checked in with Mike to see what’s going on up in Montreal.

How has the transition from Coalision been? What were some of the wins and challenges of the process?

It’s been just about as good as it could be. I won’t say perfect, as there were some bumps along the road, but when you consider how much we’ve done in the past twelve months, it’s expected that a few curve balls would come our way. Orage is a twenty five year old brand and was part of a larger company that had close to 120 people, its own warehouses, and established processes that it had been running for the past few decades. So, when you remove yourself from that in an effort to start fresh, you anticipate some challenges.

We just recently moved into an entirely new office, gutted the place, spiced it up quite nicely, built an entirely new ERP, new website, transferred inventory and opened two new 3PLs, our team is getting accustomed to the new systems and wouldn’t you know it, now we’re right in the thick of the winter season and starting to show next seasons collection to retailers.  You could say it was like being in the middle of the perfect storm and now we’re really looking forward to making a few turns as soon as the resorts start to open so we can remind ourselves exactly what all the hard work is about — having fun on skis.

As the “original freeskiing outerwear brand,” how has freeskiing outerwear style and design evolved since the late 90s and early 2000s?

Product design in all aspects of our sport has gone through huge changes over the past few decades.  As ski technology changed over the years you’ve seen changes to outerwear design that support those changes and the evolution of the sport.  As twin tips got hot in the early 2000s you saw a much more skate / action sports influence on garment design.  As skiers begin to have more access to skiing outside the resort ropes you’re seeing the need for more technical layering, features and details to support time away from the chairlifts and base lodges.  There are also more brands popping up that are creating unique niches for themselves, but the one thing that Orage has built is a name for itself with is its alternative vision for what outerwear is supposed to do.  Our vision has always been to bring street style to mountain-ready outerwear.  And one of the biggest changes we’re seeing is that skiers are not wearing their ski jackets around town as much as they used to.  They still want a unique look on the hill but when they’re going downtown at night they don’t necessarily want to look like they just ripped off their skins and headed straight to dinner.

Our new Transition collection offers tons of layering and casual outerwear options for a skiers time off the mountain.  As we move into the next chapter of Orage, our goal is to provide product that supports skiing during “all three seasons of winter”.  We’ll provide warmth with insulated outerwear and layering during the fall, protection against snow during winter with technical waterproof and breathable ski-wear and protection against varying weather with lightweight waterproof and ventilated outerwear in the spring.



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Street style has always been a major influence for Orage – are there any specific styles or brands that stand out?

Our design team looks at and takes influence from a bunch of brands; they do the tradeshow circuit to scout trends just like any brand, but I think what keeps Orage unique and authentic is the way we stay true to who we are.  On top of that, we work with some of the best athletes in the industry, our reps are all dedicated skiers and we’ve had long lasting relationships for R&D with teams like the guide crew up at Retallack lodge.

The brand is based in Montreal which a pretty trendy outdoor city.  In the end, we know how to keep people warm.  Our brand is led by skiers so everything we do will have a direct tie to on-mountain life. being from Montreal is where our fashion flavor comes from and at the end of the day, we make product that we’re stoked on.  The best thing we can do is stay true to what allowed Orage to stand out in the first place… that’s really the big focus for us as we move forward.

Orage Office

Where is the best place to get poutine in Montreal?

Check out La Banquise on Rue Rachel Est, just down the street from our new office. Those guys know poutine.

I know everyone has asked you this already, but  how do you pronounce Siver Cartel? Is it going to make a comeback?

If you can say scuba ‘diver’ just swap the ‘d’ for an ‘s’ and away you go. Cartel comeback… can’t say right now, but man, it would be sweet.

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You have been given the opportunity to go on a powventure anywhere in the world – where do you go and what gear do you bring with you?

Retallack. Yes, we outfit their guide crew, but its not just about the skiing, its the people.  The staff, guide crew and cat crew make that place what it is.  What gear do I bring, either a pair of 125 Sick Days from LINE or the new Friend ski from J Skis.  In terms of Orage gear, definitely the Orage Retallack Jacket or if you’re a lady check out the LadySeven Jacket from Orage.  If you have the ability to time travel I would strongly recommend you hook yourself up with one of our new Prime 30 jackets from next year’s collection. Honestly, its going to blow minds.  It already has; we just sent our rep force home from last weeks sales meeting with their heads in the clouds.  You’ve never seen, felt or worn outerwear so light and ventilated as our Prime 30 gear.

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What is your favorite Orage kit and color combo this season?

This season the red and black Sarg is quite nice for daily use.  I’m going with a Retallack for pow days and the Redford jacket for around town.

Skiboards. When are they going to make a comeback?

Not sure about that one, the last time I was on a pair of skiboards with the last day of my 2000 ski season.  The next year I switched back to riding long skis and never looked back.  Its been almost 15 years now.


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