Heifara Rutgers and David Roth, founders of the Aspen-based ski wear company, Aztech Mountain, didn’t launch their company with the expectation to become the if you know, you know brand of the global ski set. Instead, Aspen’s identity as a convergence for outdoors, culture, and spirituality for which it is beloved by the locals is the touch stone that drives their work. So, what of Aztech’s cult status, then? It came with the territory when they set out to create one of the most elevated products in the ski industry.
“Purposeful, clean, and classic has always been our ethos,” says Rutgers, a born-and-bred in Aspenite.
In order to hit these key values, achieve their vision for sharp, performance-driven ski wear that looks as at home on the slopes as it does in Tribeca, all while incorporating the spirit of Aspen, they started with their own professional experiences. For Rutgers, this meant tapping into the 10 years he spent at LVMH and Marc Jacobs, while Roth brought his expertise from his years as a consultant at Price Waterhouse Cooper.
“What really helped was that we worked in very tough industries that taught us how to persevere,” says Roth.
To bolster Aztech’s inputs even further, they brought on Olympic Gold Medalist, Bode Miller, as Chief Innovation Officer and a co-owner of the brand, while Casey Cadwallader was appointed as Aztech’s Head of Design, a fashion designer known for his exceptional capabilities with precision and technicality which his other role as Creative Director of Thierry Mugler demands.
Now, in the 8 years since Aztech was launched, it sits at the meeting point—or rather, the outcome of—the convergence of these inputs of talent, knowledge and technical skills, and the result is ski wear that is infallible in construction, design, and performance, making it the go-to for those in search of polished, precise, luxury ski clothes. It successfully—and is the only brand on the market to do this—bridges the gap between super-technical gear and luxury clothing.
They’ve earned this without glaring logos or excessive design and instead through this focus on high-performance built into the slickest silhouettes, which is why when Aztech first catches the eyes, it’s not because Aztech is telling you who they are, it’s because you are seeing who they are.
“Ski clothes aren’t about just getting one thing right, they are about getting everything right,” says Cadwallader from Paris.
“There are so many properties to consider like dynamic stretch, breathability, water resistance, sustainability, and let’s not forget look and feel. Then there is the scrutiny not just of each garment’s performance, but how the different garments come together to make the best full ski kit possible. At Aztech I am truly proud of our cut and fit, and how that reacts with 4-way stretch fabric and super warm insulation, to make the best ski jacket out there.”
This focus on Aztech’s technical materials is deep.
The 4-way stretch nylon of which Cadwallader speaks called Dermizax EV is non porous, 100% recyclable, totally water and wind proof while its stretch allows for superior movement. It’s also profoundly durable and remains unscathed no matter what they’re put through, even falls which involve sliding down on one’s bottom at top speeds. Aztech’s down is the highest-quality, but they also use a down alternative called Primaloft, which is sustainably made to mimic the properties of down but at the same time, is lighter than down and resists moisture better than down, which keeps the wearer extra warm.
“Perfectly-welded seams, highest standards and the right amount of down to be super warm when it’s freezing, but vents for when you are skiing hard or it gets too hot,” explains Cadwallader about the technical balance he aims to strike with his design.
“And then there are the tiny details; the fleece that lines our pockets, the eyewear cloth connected by an elastic cord to the inside pocket. These little pieces we have tested over the years, and know are so critical.”
For Rutgers and Roth, their inspiration may start with Aspen but it doesn’t stop there; the founders are also New Yorkers, and this dual ‘citizenship,’ as it may be—Roth was born and raised in New York and they both live between both cities—forms another key aspect of the brand’s position: to create clothes to go from Aspen’s slopes to New York streets. Aztech coats, sweaters, and mid-layers neither look fully like ski clothes, or look fully like street clothes, either.
This mix of elements places them firmly within a very secure niche, and when asked whether they envision themselves as a more widely-consumed brand in the future, Rutgers and Roth know the consumer they speak to is one who is clear and particular in their choices.
“Aztech Mountain does not need to be everything to everyone,” Rutgers says. “I know that today’s high end consumer is very informed and very specific. They want to buy their hat from Borsalino, swimsuit from Frescobol Carioca, eyewear from Lunor, skiwear from Aztech Mountain, and there is little appetite to sway from that.”
Ultimately, through every detail and technical aspect that goes into Aztech, their core philosophy is actually quite simple, according to Roth:
“Skiing is equal parts skill and state of mind. Our aim is to take the worry out of: Will I be cold, will I get wet, do I look good?”