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Alison Wente grew up skiing Aspen Mountain top to bottom, T to B. After law school in Denver, she moved back to her hometown in 2010 to work for Holland & Hart, a law firm with an Aspen office only four blocks from the Silver Queen gondola. For eight years, she worked early mornings and late nights to ski during lunch breaks, trying to never miss a powder day. The 38-year-old has since moved to Denver with her husband and two young boys, but when she’s back in Aspen, she still skis her favorite mountain top to bottom as fast as a teenager, usually with the rat pack of boys she grew up racing within the Aspen Valley Ski Club and shouldering her skis with up Highland Bowl.
Through her decades of skiing, Wente has always preferred wearing bibs. In the 10 years or so that she’s been wearing a pair of 2010 Trew shell bibs, she’s scoured the market for a replacement but never found the perfect bib. It seemed they were all designed for boys, with little fashion sense and too much fabric in all the wrong places (her ski edges were always cutting holes in the cuff on double fall lines). Without a background in design, she attempted a sketch of her dream bibs and reached out to family friend Heifara Rutgers, a founder of the Aspen- and New York City-based ski apparel brand, Aztech Mountain. Less than two years later, in September 2021, after multiple iterations and T-to-B testing, the Top to Bottom Bibs launched and are available to women from Niseko to Gstaad, New York City to Jackson Hole. Made with recycled four-way stretch waterproof nylon, a Schoeller 3L softshell bodice, and breathable Primaloft Gold insulation, the bibs offer a sleek silhouette without sacrificing function.
“The bib was exactly the right idea at the right time,” says Rutgers. “Ali had a vision—she wanted something sexy, but functional. I knew she was aligned from a taste and performance perspective—she’s an amazing skier, a fantastic athlete and a beautiful woman with a keen fashion sense. Plus, we both share a deep love for Aspen and Ajax. We collaborated from there and created a truly stand-out piece. It’s something totally refreshing in this category.”
Wente says the bib won’t be her last contribution to the ski industry: “I have another few itches to scratch in outerwear and performance apparel.”
First of all, why bibs?
Once you go bib, you never go back. They are warmer, more comfortable, better looking with a variety of base layers, and cuter at après. The market is loaded with bibs, and outerwear, generally, on opposite sides of the spectrum. There’s the performance-centric, baggy, shell look with heaps and heaps of fabric. Then, there are the overly tight, stirrup-ed, loud offerings that are impractical for a serious skier. There wasn’t a bib for women who really ski and want to look good doing it—nothing that accentuated our female form, kept us warm and gave us total mobility.
How did the idea begin?
I followed Heifara’s launch of Aztech Mountain in 2013 and appreciated its elevated, clean, understated, and classic designs, and the company’s reverence of Aspen as a ski town, and ski culture and ski heritage in general. I had never been so excited about a ski line as when Aztech debuted its first women’s collection in the fall of 2019, but I also noticed the collection was missing a bib. Much to Heifara’s credit, he was willing to take a chance on a new product, even during the calamity of 2020.
What was the design process?
The team, including Aztech Head of Design Casey Cadwallader, and I traded and refined sketches of the bib via text and email during lockdown—spring 2020. That summer, we met for in-person fittings and traded copious notes to improve fit and function. Then, we honed the final product through extensive product testing last winter. We skied in a wide swing of temperatures and conditions, we aprèd, we went sledding and grocery shopping… We even made dinner and put kids to bed in the bib. We wore the bib with heavy and light layers, ski boots and snow boots, and all different jackets from the Aztech collection (Wente suggests pairing them with the Aztech Mountain’s Mini Nuke or Nuke Suit jackets).
Can you describe the bib?
It’s as comfortable as a yoga pant. The lining is so soft on your skin and really keeps you warm. Four-way stretch has the benefits of shape-wear, without discomfort. And an open, razorback is both sexy, revealing the small of your back, and functional, ventilating one of the hardest places on your body to cool down when you really heat up.
That said, it’s not meant for every day, every way. Just like skis, you have to pick the right outfit for the right day. I wouldn’t skin in these or do multiple Bowl laps. But these bibs are a little black dress—elegant, simple, and versatile.
Aztech Mountain Top To Bottom Bib
Colors: Bordeaux Multi, Cloud White Multi, Orange Crush Multi, Space Black