Moncler and zai. Born in the mountains. Loved from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley.
The two companies have done it again: a zai & Moncler collection. The third one. And hopefully not the last. Johannes Svartholm, Artistic Director at Moncler, and Benedikt Germanier, CEO at zai, talk about the latest masterpiece, the long road to perfection and the soul of the mountain.
MONCLER AND ZAI – TWO WINTER ICONS UNITED AGAIN. YOU BRING OUT YOUR THIRD SKI COLLECTION. HOW DID THE COLLABORATION COME ABOUT?
Johannes: What connects Moncler and zai is the mountain, the passion for innovation, iconic products and the urge to research, explore, cross borders, to surpass oneself. This high standard and mutual admiration led us to our first adventure in 2015.
WHAT MAKES THE NEW ZAI FOR MONCLER SKI SO EXCITING?
Benedikt: The starting point was the idea of building a ski made of a material that belongs to the mountain: stone. We aimed for creating a product with all-round qualities. The ski is easy to use, it is created to master different terrains effortlessly, and with its different lengths (150 cm, 160 cm, 174 cm) it fulfills individual wishes and skiing styles.
Johannes: In essence, Moncler is like zai: we want to give people a stylish and joyful experience on the mountain. People should also feel safe, protected and perfectly tempered outdoors. zai has managed to bring the soul of the mountain to the ski.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO BRING THE SOUL OF THE MOUNTAIN TO THE SKI?
Benedikt: By using a metamorphic rock formed in tectonics: slate. The slate was deposited and pressed to the surface for 150 million years. It is an intelligent and damping material that makes the ski flexible and resistant to tension and pressure. The ski is not exactly light, but thanks to its porous structure, the specific weight of the stone is less than that of aluminum.
Johannes: The ski is crafted for eternity. Having already been around for 150 million years, the stone will outlast decades even when used as a ski – or even experience the next ice age (laughs).
SOUNDS CONVINCING! WERE THERE ANY POINTS WHERE YOU HAD DISCUSSIONS?
Johannes: Our idea was to combine dark stone with dark wood. At the same time, we wanted to keep the purity of the materials, for instance by keeping the roughness of the stone. The beauty of the design is that each ski has its own individuality in the form of its unique surface.
Benedikt: It wasn’t just about building a unique ski. We wanted to awaken a longing for the mountain. We talked a lot about how to place the Moncler logo without putting the product in the background. The Moncler as well as the zai logos were supposed to be embedded in the stone, while Moncler’s silvery logo should convey the brand. For this purpose, zai used a stone color developed especially for Moncler. The logo was milled into the bend and pressed with the stone surface – a completely new procedure.
Johannes: Moncler’s heritage, design, functionality and the soul of the mountain were the main points of focus of the development…
Benedikt: … and with zai for Moncler, we have created a product that gives carvers (150&160 cm), all-rounders (174cm) as well as sports enthusiasts a carefree joy of skiing – on the slope as well as in fresh snow.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU BOTH?
Johannes: It was key for me to have a functional ski that shows Moncler’s strong design language in harmony with zai’s identity. The result is a high-performance equipment with outstanding skiing characteristics that is unique in design and in its pleasure of use.
Benedikt: When we decided on an all-round ski, we opted for a ski geometry that creates a smooth tool thanks to a wide shovel, a slightly increased width under the binding and a larger radius at the rear of the ski. The main goal was to combine design and functionality. The design of Moncler should enhance the strengths of the product. The wood used in the upper strap – smoked oak – breaks up the stability of the stone in the front and rear area. This makes the ski bendable and flexible in the right places. The stable wood fiber with its dark texture blends in harmoniously with the look of the slate and provides flexibility.
Johannes: We wanted to create a product with a sleek design that our clients would be obsessed with and strong innovation to make them feel like they’re flying down the slopes.
Benedikt: We clicked right from the start. There is a high appreciation for creativity, innovation, craftsmanship and consistency in execution. Just recently, at our latest photo shoot, once again I learned to appreciate the high performance fashion of our partner. We were exposed to the sun at an altitude of 3000 meters – and after sunset to the bitterest cold. We dragged material, set up and took down the photo equipment over and over again, went up the mountain on foot to go down again and again, changed skis and searched for our line – until we got the perfect picture. In these moments, you only want one thing: clothes that hug and keep you warm.
Johannes: … and a ski that carries you with ease and style, like a graceful dance partner.