Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Freeskiing [Print without images]

Thursday, October 4, 2012
Royal undies


Bright, happy long underwear made from New Zealand merino wool.

In 2009, Mons Royale founder and professional freeskier Hamish Acland sent the first Mons international shipment from New Zealand to Switzerland. The small, base-layer company from Wanaka, New Zealand, uses 100 percent merino wool and is rapidly becoming a noteworthy competitor in the world of ski skivvies. Since that first shipment in 2009, Mons has expanded to shops all over Europe, North America, and Japan.

Pros like Jossi Wells and Dane Tudor sport the long underwear, known for its brighter colors and technical fabrics.

"The Mons Royale brand was born from the insight that technical underwear and first layer garments totally lacked style," said Acland. "Or if they had style, they failed in mere functionality."

Hailing from an island of four million sheep, wool fabrics reign supreme over synthetics in New Zealand. Mons uses merino from Australian and New Zealand sheep farms. This type of wool, derived from merino sheep, essentially makes each Mons product a softer, less stinky version of the standard polypropylene or regular wool base layer options. Add vibrant colors, alluriing cuts, and an emphasis on style, and Mons is attracting a base-layer niche in ski and snowboard communities around the worlda group that Acland claims his competitors, like Icebreaker and Smart Wool, aren't targeting.

"Mons has opened up to the younger, more fashion-conscious generation of skiers and boarders," said Neil Kerr of NZ Skier Magazine. "The brand presents merino as both a technical garment and as something hip to wear to the pub."

The women's standard legging and original long sleeve come in a fuchsia, turquoise, and a few earthy tones, like black and olive. With a company catchphrase like "First On, Last Off," I am probably not the only one sporting my Mons leggings in the morning at yoga and at the bar after skiing. In fact, that is exactly what Acland was hoping: long underwear that people want to wear all the time.

"Our concept is to develop and design products for the riders lifestyle," said Acland. "We are making gear for on and off the mountain."