Skico says no mo’ Polo
December 13, 2006
Aspen, Co ColoradoASPEN Polo Ralph Lauren is out, and Salomon is in as the Aspen Skiing Co.’s official outfitter starting next ski season, company officials confirmed Wednesday.The Skico recently awarded Salomon North America a four-year contract to design and manufacturer uniforms for about 2,700 employees, according to David Perry, Skico senior vice president-mountain division.Skico employees have worn RLX Polo Sport, a brand of Polo Ralph Lauren, for the past six years. The upscale clothier initially had a two-year contract and now is in the final season of a four-year contract.The change teams the Skico with a company well-known in the ski industry and widely respected for its skis, bindings and snowboards rather than one best known in the fashion world. Salomon started making skis in Annecy, France, in 1947, and added ski apparel in 2001.Tom Berry, president of Salomon North America, said the image the Skico has conveyed in recent years – with initiatives like development of extreme skiing in Highland Bowl and hosting the Winter X Games – closely matches the branding his company has taken. A few years ago, Salomon wouldn’t have sought this contract because of how Aspen was positioned, he said.It might be too strong of word to say Aspen has “reinvented” itself, Berry said, but the Skico has definitely changed the resort’s image back to the core of skiing. “It had been pigeonholed as a Gucci resort,” Berry said.Salomon is targeting customers who enjoy freestyle riding and skiing, as well as those attracted to expert terrain. Berry said he believes outfitting employees in Aspen is a great way to reach a very progressive audience.”We’re thrilled,” Berry said. “We think Aspen is one of the world’s great mountains, and we’re excited about it.”The company is banking on the exposure offsetting the energy and focus needed to outfit a company. The Aspen Skiing Co. is the only major resort being outfitted by Salomon, which is moving its North American headquarters from Portland, Ore., to Ogden, Utah (near Snowbasin ski area) next year.Perry said the Skico put out a request for proposals for the uniform contract more than a year ago. Eight companies submitted ideas. The list was narrowed to three finalists, including RLX Polo, but Salomon won.Perry stressed that the Skico was grateful for Polo’s work and that the company turned in another strong proposal. The Skico selected Salomon because Skico officials were impressed with its leading-edge designs along with uniforms that are functional, comfortable and durable. They will make outfits that Skico employees will be proud to wear, Perry said.Salomon will design new uniforms for ski instructors, mountain operations folks like chairlift operators and snowmakers, ski patrol, ski ambassadors and some skier services workers.Berry said the Skico designs are about 95 percent finished. Prototypes have been tested on the local slopes. Final orders must be placed in February.The switch will leave the Skico in possession of thousands of parkas, ski pants and shells at the end of the season. The company donated thousands of pieces to residents of war-torn Bosnia in 1997, although shipping costs were enormous.”We haven’t decided what we’re going to do with the old ones this time,” Perry said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.