TOREN | TECHNICAL APPAREL

News & Announcements

You already know that founder Ethan spends his days running Toren’s business, but we thought you might be interested in what brought him here and what he does in his spare time.  We sat down to ask him a few questions - check out what he had to say below.

How’d you develop your love for the outdoors?

My parents first put me on skis when I was three, so I really grew up skiing.  We also spent lots of time hiking and camping and at the beach in the summers, so appreciation for the outdoors was a way of life.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Telemark skiing - I picked it up in college to keep challenging myself.  Free your heels, free your mind.

Because you were a ski instructor at Vail, is it safe to assume winter is your favorite season?

Good guess, and I do love winter, but fall is actually my favorite season.  You just can’t beat those crisp sunny days.

Anything you’re particularly excited for now that it’s getting a little warmer?

Mainly I’m looking forward to getting some outdoor exercise time on my home turf - there’s terrific running, hiking and cycling, all nearby.  Of course I’ll miss the snow and skiing, but it’ll be great to be able to just throw on my running shoes or hop on my bike and head out the door.  We also have a few trips to the mountains and the beach planned this summer, which I’m definitely looking forward to.

What does an ideal weekend in New York look like for you?

For me, an ideal weekend in the city includes getting in a great workout, preferably outdoors either in Central Park or on the Hudson.  You’d probably also find me hanging with my wife Sarah and dog Stella or seeking out some of the great food New York City has to offer.

What has been your favorite travel adventure?

My wife and I visited Patagonia a couple of years ago.  We trekked through Parque Nacional los Glaciares in Argentina and on the W circuit in Torres del Paine in Chile, both of which were incredible.  The terrain down there is really wide open and dramatic, and it feels largely untouched by humanity, which is hard to come by these days.

What about your worst outdoor misadventure?

After college, Sarah and I went on an extended cross-country trip.  Near the end of the trip, we visited Arches National Park in Utah, which is on the Colorado Plateau and has a dry climate perfect for camping.  We set up our tent in a beautiful campsite in a little valley area, only to find that we had actually staked out tent in the middle of a wash, and just our luck, we happened to be in Arches on one of its four rainy days a year.  A river gushing against the side of our tent at 4am was a really rude awakening.

What’s the best piece of gear you’ve acquired?

We purchased the Hubba Hubba tent by MSR before our cross-country trip, and nearly ten years later, it’s still going strong (and still in production, which speaks volumes).  The Hubba Hubba is MSR’s two-person backpacking tent, and it checks all the boxes - lightweight, versatile and super easy to set up and break down.

Any special words to live by?

Never waste a day.

 

Finished samples for the Fundamental Shell came in this week, and they look amazing.  The timing couldn’t be better, as the beginning of Spring was the perfect excuse for us to take them out for a spin!  In NYC, the shell really stood up to the breezy weekend and was the perfect protection for running around the city.  Our founder Ethan was able to sneak off to Colorado for a weekend ski trip, and he and his friends put the Fundamental Shell to the test in some amazing spring skiing conditions.  The shell got rave reviews all around - check out the pictures below!

The last couple of weeks since we launched the preorder of the Fundamental Shell have been a whirlwind.  We’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve gotten from all of you, and are so pumped that you’re as excited about the Fundamental Shell as we are!  If you haven’t preordered a Fundamental Shell yet, don’t wait - click here to order your own.  And if you have, you’re not only among the first to be part of the Toren community, but you’re helping to do good in the greater community as well - thanks!

Other than the day we launched, today may be the most exciting day in our short history - the Fundamental Shell is officially available for preorder!

Click here to visit the preorder page, where you can see detailed pictures of the product, check out all the tech specs and select your size and color.  If you place your order by March 31, you’ll be among the very first to receive the Fundamental Shell, which will arrive on your doorstep in late Spring 2014.  Otherwise, your shell won’t ship until we launch our full e-commerce store in Fall 2014, so don’t wait - get ‘em while they’re hot!

 

As we prepare to launch the Fundamental Shell preorder, we’ve been working hard to get all of our ducks in a row.  And as we mentioned last week, among the most important of those ducks was full product photography of the Fundamental Shell itself, to make sure you can all see the design and details we’ve spent so long obsessing over.  So we called on our friend Drew Innis, a NYC based photographer with substantial experience in apparel (check out his work here).  Drew and Ethan set up in his studio and really captured the unique features the Fundamental Shell has to offer.  Full product photography will appear on the preorder page, launching soon, but for now, check out a few ‘behind the scenes’ pics below!

 

Big day for us here at Toren.  We’ve gotten Proto 3 back from the factory and are so excited to announce that we have finalized the prototype of our debut piece, the Fundamental Shell!

As you know, we’ve been working hard over the past months to finalize the Fundamental Shell, and we haven’t cut any corners.  The final design is made with 3-layer fabric we developed with Toray, one of the world’s leading technical textile manufacturers.  We’ve incorporated waterproof zippers for protection and vents for breathability, as well as our revolutionary hood design and internal polyurethane pocket, which you can use a touch-screen phone through.  Now that the design is completed and all components have been sourced, we’re proud to report that we’ll be offering the Fundamental Shell for $195!  This is the first shell of its kind on the market for less than $200, and we think that’s an unbelievable value for a top-of-the-line shell which our competitors would sell for double or more.

If you can’t already tell, we’re really psyched about the final design.  We’ve put up a few teaser pics today, including the first pictures of the woman’s Fundamental Shell, but stay tuned for full product photography and our pre-order sale in the coming weeks.

This is a huge milestone for the Toren - we feel like proud parents.  We know you’ll love the Fundamental Shell as much as we do and can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it!

Hey guys - Jake here, psyched to be writing the first guest post for Toren’s blog.  As a guest writer, here’s a little bit about me: I'm a technical apparel and gear industrial designer in Denver and went to OR to check out the industry trends and new technologies. As Toren wasn’t able to send anyone out to OR, I’m here to report back on some of the highlights.

Heritage and High Visibility. These are two trends that are in different stages of popularity in outdoor gear and apparel. Most of the product that was being shown at this OR will be available in Fall 2014. Its safe to say that your classic backpack styling and flashy neons will be here to stay at least for a little while longer.

Urban Outdoors. Outdoor brands are figuring out that they need to cater more towards their non-core consumers. Outdoor adventure is becoming more and more popular but John Q consumer isn't ready to hand over his whole paycheck on a technical puffy just yet. Companies are (or should be) finding ways to reach this demographic and develop product that makes sense to them. This same demographic is also looking for ways to get outdoors without getting too far from the city. Vendors are beginning to see the value in making their outdoor gear function as well and look as good on the trail as it does in the city. Smart, and Toren is ahead of the curve on this one.

Beer. Vendors will do whatever they can to get retailers into their booths to look at product. From Timbuk2 to Danner Boots, EVERYBODY at OR was selling or giving away branded stainless steel beer steins that came with free refills. Good work fellas.

That’s a wrap on Winter OR 2014. Looking forward to the day that we see the Toren product at OR!  Until the next time...

If you haven’t heard, New York is getting crushed by a second round of winter air dubbed the “polar vortex,” bringing with it almost a foot of snow!  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out the Fundamental Shell prototype and check out how it really stands up to the elements.

As expected, we stayed warm and dry, which is no small feat in these conditions.  The waterproof zippers kept out the snow and wind, and the hood fit well over a winter hat, staying out of our line of sight.  The shell also went a long way in breaking the wind, and we arrived back at the studio warm and happy.  We had Ethan layered up over his cotton button down, with a lightweight down puffy (800 fill goose down) and the Fundamental Shell on top.  Although the temps were in the low teens with a windchill getting down to around 1º, Ethan (who admittedly runs freakishly hot) was good to go.  That’s more than we can say for Stella!

Now that all of the dust has settled after the holiday season, everyone is back at work in what is one of the busiest times of year for the technical apparel industry.  In the outdoor apparel and gear world, January and February are packed with trade shows, where manufacturers go to showcase what they are developing and producing. There are three major trade shows, each with a slightly different purpose and perspective on the industry, so many people attend all three.

Outdoor Retailer ("OR") - Jan 22-25

Held in Salt Lake City, Utah, OR is the premier event in the United States and focuses both on apparel and gear.  Not only do all of the largest consumer brands show here, but many sourcing and trim manufacturers show as well, so this is the place to be to stay on top of new technology in fabric and trim elements.  OR is where many consumer brands market their products to third party retailers (department stores and chain and speciality retailers), and often the booths are crowded with guests trying to get a look at products that won’t be on the public market for another year.  Because Toren will be selling directly to consumers, we wouldn’t participate in the marketing portion of OR - this is the stage where garments move from a 2x markup by the manufacturer to the 4-6x markup for retail and consumer purchase - but we’d love to go to see all the new sourcing and trim developments in the industry.

Snowsports Industry America (“SIA”) - Jan 30-Feb 4

SIA is held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and it is snowsports all day, every day.  SIA has a reputation as being both a great show and a great time.  The last few days are wholly spent on on-snow demos and tests of skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, goggles, poles, and everything else you can think of at nearby Copper Mountain.  Like OR, SIA has a small but growing sourcing component, which Ethan attended last year.  We look forward to seeing how this aspect grows in years to come.

ISPO Munich - Jan 26-29

ISPO is the largest show and the premier technical apparel expo worldwide.  Manufacturers from all over the world visit ISPO, which gives it a different feel than OR and SIA, which focus primarily on domestic markets.  As you might expect, ISPO is an international “work hard, play hard” type of environment and is set very close to the mountains, so there’s plenty of apres-work fun to be had.  We’ve got this one written in pen on our 2015 calendar for the whole team.  Plus, since we will have made the trek across the pond to Germany, no reason not to stay to get a few full days of skiing in after the show!

Last year, Ethan spent a few days at SIA getting a feel for the lay of land and connecting with fabric and trim sources.  This year, we’re 100% focused on making sure we deliver the Fundamental Shell to you in just a few months, so we won’t be making the trip.  We’re looking forward to the year we visit all three!

We’re happy to report that Ethan is back from his trip and nearly recovered from his jetlag.  Now that he’s had time to go through all his notes and digest the experience, it’s clear what an important and productive trip it was.

The Zhejiang Banyu Industrial Co. facility, located in Pinghu about 2 hours south of Shanghai, is immediately impressive.  It’s a complex of three buildings - one for offices, sampling and prototyping and two for bulk production.  Conditions at the factory are excellent - very clean, with significant airflow to keep the air fresh and free of chemicals and particles.

Ethan was equally impressed with the technology, efficiency and quality at the factory.  The facility has two laser cutting machines, which operate 24/7 to ensure the most efficient use of this machinery.  In addition, there are numerous standard cutting machines onsite for other components which do not require the extreme level of precision of the laser-cutting machines.  There were approximately 70 production lines, consisting of multiple sewing stations, ironing stations and for technical apparel, seam sealing stations.  Each production line is subject to two in-house quality control checks, one in the production line and a second after full assembly.  Banyu’s quality control checks yield a first pass rate as high as 99%.  While on the tour, Ethan caught glimpses of goods being produced for other brands, and although we won’t list them here, they’re some of the biggest names around.

After the tour, it was time to roll up the sleeves and get down to business.  Ethan and the team made significant progress on Prototype 3, sweating all the small stuff and ensuring that some of the more challenging construction elements of the design were up to snuff before we go into bulk production.  Significant time was spent on one of the key elements of the Fundamental Shell - its pockets.  The adhesion between the pockets and the shell fabric just wasn’t strong enough, and because we want to ensure that the pockets can take whatever abuse you throw at them, the team tested several adhesives, sewing solutions and alternate fabrics to make sure the finished product is perfect.

The team also focused on trim elements.  We’ve extended the zipper on the men’s shell a half a centimeter and swapped the fabric in the arm pockets for a better look.  We took a look at every seam and made sure all the extraneous ones were removed, keeping a streamlined appearance.  Finally, details like zipper garages and pulls were tested to determine the best combination.

It was a great trip and a tremendous learning experience.  We are even more proud of what we’re doing and cannot wait to see (and show you!) the results.