Vancouver-based Arc’teryx famously rejected any notion that it cared about trends or the fashion industry’s fickle whims, underpinning the company’s simple mission statement: “To build the finest products possible.” Almost 30 years after rebranding from Rock Solid to Arc’teryx, the Vancouver-based brand remains steadfast in its devotion to innovation, construction and reliability, even when swept into the churning fashion industry.
After co-founder Dave Lane left the company in 1989, his partner Jeremy Guard dubbed it “Arc’teryx,” in homage to the Archaeopteryx, an ancient ancestor of today’s birds. The name change was a signifier of Guard’s vision for disruptive evolution within the outdoor industry. This realm demands high-function gear and the Arc’teryx team was poised to deliver, with 1991’s Vapor harness and 1993’s Bora backpack becoming instant favorites for rock climbers and hikers. Three years after the latter was introduced, the Canadian company began to work with W.L. Gore & Associates for weatherproof apparel, a partnership that remains in place to this day.
By 1999, Arc’teryx was successful enough to necessitate a move to a larger facility. Only six years later, the company had to move yet again to meet exploding demand, settling in its current Vancouver outpost, next door to ARC’ONE, its manufacturing hub. With hundreds of items in its catalog, the company was a one-stop shop for adventure enthusiasts seeking essentials for activites as far-flung as skiing, rock-climbing and running. 2009 saw the launch of the Veilance sub-label, a collection of refined casualwear that utilizes much of the same technology as mainline. Veilance is Arc’teryx’s sole push into the realm of the fashion-conscious but it refrains from trends, influencers and fashion shows.
Though Arc’teryx had “arrived” decades ago, the brand truly does feel omnipresent nowadays. With adventure style spilling into the mainstream, its no surprise that many stalwart outdoor brands have explored hype-driven product drops and collaborations. Arc’teryx is not, and never will be, one of them. “The moment we pivot and try to address the streetwear world, we’ll totally lose it,” Dan Green, VP of Design, told HYPEBEAST.
Despite that, streetwear luminaries are extremely eager to embrace Arc’teryx. Virgil Abloh — a devout Arc’teryx Alpha Sv fan and his Off-White™ recently repurposed some of the brand’s outerwear for its Fall/Winter 2020 show (the presentation was not authorized by Arc’teryx) and was photographed wearing the same Arc gear as Drake. Famously, Frank Ocean was spotted in an Arc’teryx Grotto beanie in early 2019, right before the streetwear hubbub enveloped the Vancouver label.
With or without co-signs from some of the biggest names in American culture, Arc’teryx is content to stay on the path it laid before itself almost three decades ago. Its revolutionary technology and exceptional hands-on approach to manufacturing guarantees enduring relevance. When the designs are rock solid, the brand will be too.
Discover Arc’teryx’s legacy above and then explore the origins of Artek’s legendary Stool 60.