Alpine Aesthetic: Hooray for Halfdays
Co-founded by Olympian Kiley McKinnon, the vogue and vegan skiwear brand is made for women by women.
In the never-ending quest to find the perfect ski suit, one new brand has made it to the front of my gear closet this winter.
Since launching at the start of the 2020-21 ski season, Halfdays has disrupted the male- dominated model for the outdoor industry and has already turned itself into one of the most successful gear debuts dedicated to women.
Kiley McKinnon, who spent almost a decade as a professional freestyle skier and Olympian (PyeongChang 2018), was perpetually frustrated by the unisex uniforms she competed in and wanted to lead the charge toward change upon retirement by developing products for women and by women.
She relocated from Park City to Denver three years ago and within a few months, met co-founder Ariana Ferweda through a mutual friend. A few months after conceiving the initial idea for Halfdays, they were connected through an investor to Karelle Golda, who was working in San Francisco on Serena Williams’ S Brands at the time. Golda was thinking about starting her own direct-to-consumer skiwear company, so instead of becoming competitors in the industry, the trio decided to join forces.
Halfdays was perfectly named as a playful ode to the half-day ski pass. Golda explained:
“We’re all about taking it easy, sleeping in, eating waffles (or pancakes at Bonnie’s in Aspen!) at the top of the mountain and having fun! We want beginners, professionals and everyone in between to feel good, welcomed and included.”
It was apparent early on that Halfdays was a much-needed alternative to the often over- sized, over-priced and over-complicated skiwear options for women. But don’t mistake the ease of Halfdays’ pieces for not withstanding the conditions — every product is designed (and tested) to perform technically on-mountain and transition into a woman’s everyday winter wardrobe. Plus, Halfdays is committed to minimizing environmental impact — all of its products and packaging are 100% vegan and made from recycled materials; base layers use seamless technology, which eliminates waste during the production process, too.
“The response has been incredible. Within the first two years, Halfdays has taken off and is now carried in national retailers like Bloomingdales and Bandier,” shared Ferweda, a former retail strategist-turned Halfdays CEO. “This season, we saw our waitlist grow to over 8,000 women. Our largest challenge has just been keeping up with the demand.”
Winding down its second winter on the slopes, the Halfdays collection ranges in a rainbow of solid sets (available in sizes up to XXL and adjustable) priced from $95 to $495 for base layers, bibs, pants and jackets. To keep the momentum up through spring and summer, the brand will also launch its first capsules for spring and fall this year — exclusively announced via its Instagram account (@halfdays) and email club.
“All of our product names are inspired by badass women in the outdoors — from Andrea Mead Lawrence, the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals, to Seba Johnson, the first Black female to compete in Olympic skiing,” added Golda, who now serves as Halfdays chief marketing officer. “Our palette and design aim to deliver timeless, fashion-forward outdoor apparel at an approachable price point.”
But beyond fashion-meets- function apparel, Halfdays has also created a community. The “Halfdayer” blog regularly shares resources like ski town guides, tips for deciding whether to rent or buy gear and affordable hotel picks. This season, the brand hosted more than 20 “Mountain Meet-Ups” across the U.S. (Aspen- Snowmass included) hosted by its own community members — many who have connected through the official Halfdays Slack channel (aka “The Halfdays Chalet”).
Aspen-Snowmass is not only a leading market for the brand, but also a personal favorite for the founders.
“Being based in Colorado, Aspen and Snowmass are two of our all-time favorite mountains!” added Golda. “We’ve activated multiple times with Halfdays since launching: a pop-up at The Snow Lodge, photoshoots with local photographer Jacie Marguerite (@jaciemarguerite) and a recent giveaway with the Hotel Jerome. Even our agency partner Breef (@breefwork) is based in Aspen. Needless to say, we love it for the incredible skiing and the creative industry that the town attracts.”