No resort better embodies the cultural idiom of ‘fashion and function’ than Sun Valley. And no luxury athletic brand is as rooted in the innovative, high-performance ski apparel seen on those slopes or the chic, fashion-forward statements dotting the après scene as German luxury ski fashion brand, Bogner. The athletic brand icon and Sun Valley are a match made in winter-sports-fashion heaven.
Since 1932, Bogner has paved the way for functional, fashion-forward alpine style, and their influence has yet to slow down.
“Bogner’s inception was based on Maria Bogner’s desire to bring style to the slopes, whether it be St. Moritz, Aspen, or Sun Valley,” says Linda Ashman, the executive vice president of Bogner of America, Inc.. “Her goal was to make ski clothing and outwear that was both chic and functional.”
Bogner has no doubt succeeded. The brand has been a pioneer in luxury sports fashion for nearly a century. Founded by Willy Bogner, Sr., as a business for skis, equipment, and knitwear, the brand soon evolved to become the leader in high-performance winter gear and ski fashion with the introduction of the Bogner Onesuit, first popularized in the 1940s. The one-piece suit is said to have been called the Sun Valley Suit, inspired by the resort’s reputation as a hub for high-end ski fashion.
Sun Valley’s roots in Bogner’s legacy took hold, however, with a pair of stretchy ski pants and Maria Bogner. Maria, the wife of Willy Bogner, is credited with being the creative spirit behind the company. She ran Bogner while her husband was at war, and afterward, the two were at the helm together. In the early 1950s, Maria was on a quest to craft a comfortable, sexy pair of ski pants made from a nylon material. The result? A pair of pants in bold colors with a slim silhouette and stirrups to keep the pant legs from riding up.
“There is a famous story that during their skiing holidays in Sun Valley in 1955, American skiers wanted Maria Bogner to tell them where she got her slinky, stretchy ski suit made of wool and nylon,” Ashman says. “[Maria said] ‘I made it myself.’ This trip to the USA established Bogner’s legend in the States as the final breakthrough for the “stretch pants queen.”
The pants were such a phenomenon that the word “bogners” made its way to the dictionary, defined as: “a pair of ski pants.” Hollywood A-listers like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were seen sporting the sleek pants, and they were featured on the cover of Grazia Italia, anchoring their international foothold in the industry.
With a pair of pants, Maria Bogner changed how women in the ski industry carried themselves. Seth Masia with the International Skiing History Association attributed the shift to the stretch pants as a notable change in the sexual dynamic of skiing. “Standard rig for the fashionable skier in the late ’50s consisted of Bogner stretch pants and a light poplin jacket over a wool sweater,” he wrote in ‘Maria Bogner introduces sex to skiing.’ The ski legend Warren Miller summed it up best: “I credit the growth of skiing during those years (the ’50s and ’60s) to Maria Bogner and her invention of stretch ski pants. Let’s face it: sex sells. Anyone who was in reasonable shape could put on a pair of her stretch pants and look as sleek and attractive as someone in a James Bond movie.”
Ski fashion and the need for high-performance athletic wear continued to grow, and Bogner was at the front of the pack. In the late 1960s, Willy Bogner, Jr., a former alpine ski racer and film director who worked on four James Bond films, introduced his first line with the company, featuring nylon materials and bold new looks. In the following decades, Bogner created the FIRE+ICE sub-brand with more casual, sporty designs and branched out into other sportswear, but it seems none have as rich a legacy as a simple, sleek pair of pants that caught the Sun Valley skier’s eye.
“Sun Valley’s own Brass Ranch has been carrying the collection for decades and is one of Bogner’s favorite partners,” Ashman says.
The brand celebrated its ninetieth anniversary in 2022 with plans in the works for more stores and an ever-growing fan base. In November, Bogner will open two new dynamic retail stores on both coasts, Ashman says, one on Madison Avenue in New York and the other on Sunset Boulevard. To learn more, visit bogner.com.