Alpine Aesthetic: Aztech Mountain takes Manhattan
The born-in-Aspen skiwear brand opens its first boutique in Tribeca.
Fat City’s favorite homegrown, high-end skiwear brand has planted roots in a new city.
Aztech Mountain is celebrating its first brick-and-mortar in New York City. For co-founders and married couple Heifara Rutgers and David Roth, who split their time between Aspen and Manhattan, where the label’s showroom has long been based, Tribeca was a natural next step for them to share the spirit of Aspen with the world.
“(Opening our first store) was always kind of a nice, cute dream — you know, the reality is we’re still self-funded. There was no way we could have afforded New York rent (before COVID) — especially in the neighborhood we wanted to be in,” Rutgers told me during a phone interview while also hosting an in- store trunk show last Friday. “Half of the staff is in Aspen and half of the staff is in New York, so everything just aligned for us to find this spot that’s close to (our city) home.”
The Aztech Mountain store features its complete collection of men’s and women’s technical apparel and accessories, plus personally curated partner brands like Authier 1910 — the Italian heritage line led and designed by locally based style legend Lee Keating, also co-owner of the posh gear shop Performance Ski. Beyond its 1,750-square-foot selling space, Aztech Mountain will also operate offices and a showroom in the back.
It was through Performance Ski that Aztech Mountain got its sales start when the brand exclusively launched there in 2013; Rutgers was born and raised in Aspen and has been family friends with Keating and her husband Tom Bowers — a former professional ski racer and co-owner of their boutiques in Aspen, Snowmass and Vail — his entire life. Aztech Mountain also looked to Keating for her expertise when debuting its women’s collection three seasons ago.
“We love a challenge, first and foremost, but it has been (one) in the sense that everything on the men’s side, I personally wear, test, change, modify, improve — and I obviously haven’t been able to do that for women’s,” Rutgers said. “It’s been a lot of trial and error with a lot of input from people like Lee. We value her opinion and guidance as a ski industry retailer — titan — essentially. It’s been amazing to have that mentorship and partnership.”
Aztech Mountain, which also counts Olympic and World Championship gold medalist Bodie Miller as an equity partner, today has grown into a global go-to for high- performing, high-design pieces with a presence in 120 stores across 10 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.
Another instrumental player and stakeholder on team Aztech is head of design Casey Cadwallader, who also serves as creative director of the French fashion house Mugler.
“(Casey, David and I) have been friends for so long — pre-Aztech,” shared Rutgers. “Casey has always been a partner in some way … say since year three. He was coaching us and guiding us — really kind of taking the lead in many regards. However, the design process for us is a very collaborative one.”
Prior to creating Aztech Mountain, named in honor of the “Aztec” downhill course run on Ajax, Rutgers spent a decade at LVMH and Marc Jacobs; Roth brought business acumen from his years as a consultant at Price Waterhouse Cooper (his grandfather started the eyeglass firm Avant-Garde, which was eventually sold to Luxottica and his father founded Marchon Eyewear, later acquired by VSP).
With more designers collaborating with outdoor brands or introducing stylish skiwear of their own thanks to pandemic-induced growth of the category, Rutgers remains humble and devoted to his love of Aspen, skiing and the gear that goes along with it — although he is quick to explain that Aztech Mountain collections “are functional and designed to work seamlessly between the city, the slopes — or even winter weekend destinations from the city to Hudson, Rhinebeck or Millbrook.”
“Listen, it’s not a runaway success. We are lucky to have our head above water and we try very hard,” added Rutgers. “I mean, it’s me and a very small team. We live and breathe Aspen first and foremost. We know it inside- out like nobody else. You can’t just have a designer recreate that ethos. It’s got to come from the soul. That’s our competitive advantage.”
42 Hudson Street, New York City (Tribeca)
614 E. Durant Ave., Aspen (Downtown)
110 Carriage Way, Snowmass (Base Village)
Tommy Bowers Ski
141 E Meadow Dr., Vail (Solaris Residences)