A Trailblazer in ski tech, this apparel giant is revered among the world’s best skiers
From selling homemade ski sweaters out of the trunk of a car to becoming the world’s largest and most esteemed ski apparel brand, Spyder is a worthy selection as our featured brand of the month.
The Spyder name is now synonymous with high-level skiing performance and winter-time fun, but before becoming one of the most trusted names in the industry, Spyder was a small-time upstart with the simple mission of creating a better performing ski sweater. Spyder Founder David Jacobs, a former Canadian downhill ski racing champion, began his quest for designing a pro-level ski sweater in 1977 with a simple observation: there was only one brand of ski sweater on the market. Knowing he could design a better product, Jacobs founded David L. Jacobs, Inc. as a small mail-order apparel business operating out of his kitchen in Boulder, Colorado. The first ski sweaters he sold were out of the trunk of his car while he was with his sons on the ski race circuit.
It wasn’t until a year later that Jacobs conceived of the Spyder name, a nod to one of Jacob’s earliest creations, a blue racing pant with yellow-striped protective pads that gave it a spider leg-like appearance. A passionate sports car fan, Jacobs borrowed the spelling from the speedy Ferrari Spyder, a fitting name for Jacob’s race-perfected apparel. That same year, Spyder became the preferred pants of a handful of racers on the pro tour, putting a major stamp on Spyder’s credibility.
The 80’s marked a period of competitive change on the ski racing circuit, and Spyder was there every step of the way. During the early 80’s, breakaway gates changed racing technique, and Spyder’s functional pant design was perfect for the new style. This led to national teams such as the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Australia all sporting Spyder pants during competition. In 1988, padded slalom wear was replaced by solid ski suits when slalom racers began cross-blocking gates, only requiring racers to have padding on their lower legs. Spyder launched their web-graphic design during this period that is still used today.
Spyder has always been on the leading edge of ski-racing technology, but Jacobs’ next innovation was so far ahead of its time that some in the racing community complained it was too effective. That technology was the revolutionary SpeedWyre, a “trip wire” that reduced wind drag by up to 40%. Originally introduced in 1994, by 1997 the SpeedWyre had been banned from competition by the International Ski Federation, claiming that it gave skiers an unfair advantage, this coming after U.S. Ski Team members captured gold, bronze and fifth place in world championships while wearing SpeedWyre suits.
More changes in the ski world were on the vanguard though as free skiing took root. Spyder recognized early on that these new school-style of skiers required a whole different approach to their ski apparel, so Spyder created the Krietler line, named after pro skier and free skiing early adopter Kent Kreitler. The new line marked an expansion of Spyder into recreational ski clothing, a market that Spyder is now a leader in.
Today, Spyder continues to push the limits of ski apparel. Since 1989, Spyder has been the official supplier of the U.S. Ski Team, a relationship that continues to this day. A close collaboration with these ski professionals has kept Spyder on the forefront of ski style and performance, even as the brand has shifted much of its attention to the everyday skiers. With 90% of Spyder’s sales now coming from the recreational scene, the company has staked its claim as the world’s largest ski specialty brand. Their product offerings have expanded from ski jackets and pants to hats, casual wear, socks and everything in between. Spyder has become particularly popular among youth skiers, offering many of the same styles that are in their adult lines.
Why does Summit Sports continue to carry Spyder products after all these years? The same spirit of innovation that Jacobs exhibited in the company’s early days is still embodied in every piece of Spyder gear today. Through strategic partnerships with brands such as 3M Thinsulate Insulation and Audi, Spyder continues to push the limits of what ski apparel can do and be, embracing innovative materials, unique constructions and forward-thinking technologies, such as wearable jacket technology that beams real-time snow reports and trail maps to your phone using your location.
Consistently among our top-rated products, Spyder is a trusted name in the crowded ski apparel market, a true leader in technical, performance and lifestyle apparel. We are confident that Spyder will continue to provide top-of-the-line quality and style for your entire family, so you can continue to experience the outdoors in the best of high-tech outerwear.