Designing for an outdoor lifestyle

  • 4/26/2012: C6:
    PC: Senior designer Aubrey Vaughn works on new products at Marmot, in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Marmot is moving to a larger facility in Rohnert Park in May.

When you're out on the slopes this winter, you may notice a few ski jackets and pants with contrasting colors so bold and clear they can be seen from miles away.

Chances are, that ski apparel was made by Marmot of Rohnert Park, an outdoor-clothing company that has pioneered protection from the elements since 1975.

"The colors are bright, saturated and exciting because the sport is active and vibrant," said 50-year-old Aubrey Vaughn of Sebastopol, a senior designer at Marmot. "There is also a safety factor to it. You can be seen better."

Marrying cutting-edge style with function has been a goal of Vaughn's since he started working for Marmot 21 years ago.

A soccer and track athlete at Berkeley High School, Vaughn went to UC Santa Barbara on a track scholarship, then worked with his father, theater and lighting designer Aubrey Wilson, in Los Angeles' entertainment industry.

But the DNA he inherited from his mother, veteran costume designer Barbara Graham, eventually won out. After attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and San Francisco, he freelanced as a pattern-maker.

The athlete-turned-designer found a perfect fit at Marmot, where he started his career in 1992 as head pattern-maker for ski gear, sleeping bags and backpacks.

After 15 years, he transitioned into design and now specializes in outerwear, snow sports and urbanwear, a more refined version of the company's outdoor apparel.

"Fashion is all about theater," he said. "In a way, you can see that in our brand as well. We're telling a story visually, through our products."

The snow sports line in particular reflects the company's Alpinist heritage, featuring durable, high-performance products like Gore-Tex and insulating goose down.

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