Arc'teryx Jackets Sale - Product Testing And The Design Process

Words by Christina Lusti and Sarah Wallace. Photos by Austin Ross and Christina Lusti.

Living in the ski world for 99.9 percent of my life, I have worn a few snowsuits in my time. I was introduced to the Arc'teryx lines over the past four years and as an athlete I feel lucky to have had the chance to joyride (extensively) in the Whiteline collection. It has made my job a whole lot easier, day after day, storm after storm; I can charge into the elements with confidence, while staying dry and warm and fast and light.  

So who is behind the brains of this mountain savvy operation?  I met head Whiteline designer Sarah Wallace three years ago. Spending time with Sarah at her desk has become a common occasion between ski trips and shoulder season visits to the design office. I started out knowing little about outerwear apparel and over the years I learned about seam allowance, face fabrics rating, DWR - I even had the chance to sew a few pieces of my own in the office. This opportunity allowed me to create a working relationship with the design team and an understanding of the true craftsmanship that goes into the all Arc'teryx products.  On many occasions, Sarah has given me test products to take out and to use (as hard as I can) in the field, with the promise of returning a performance report back to her in the office. We maintain an open dialogue, which helps Sarah take our findings of what works best in the mountains to modify her designs. 

Product Testing And The Design Process: With Lusti And Sarah Wallace (Photos by Christina Lusti and Austin Ross)

Hoji in Chile. Austin Ross photo.

This summer Sarah and I hashed out a plan to go to the Chilean Andes, we pitched it to the big boss, booked tickets, and invited the boys to join.  Three weeks later, Austin Ross, Eric Hoji, Sarah Wallace and I met up in Santiago, Chile.  We drove south to Nevados de Chillan and spent the next two weeks testing fall 2016/2017 Arc'teryx product.  

Product Testing And The Design Process: With Lusti And Sarah Wallace (Photos by Christina Lusti and Austin Ross)

Lusti in Chile. Austin Ross photo.

I have learned that traveling with a team requires you to laugh a lot, be able to spend long days in your ski boots and to always be ready to go up for one last run.  Right away, Hoji was voicing his opinion about some pocket (or another) but was just as easily distracted with a boot modification or cutting his skins through the late hrs of the night.   Austin is as hyper as a kid the night before Christmas, and is always ready to showcase his big mountain skiing, jibby tricks, and ski ballet into the lift line. 

Austin lays a slash down (above). Lusti Photo. 

Climbing volcanoes and skiing hard in constantly changing conditions gave us ideal testing conditions. We put the new products to good use over two weeks and found the experience to be fun and rewarding. Our time in the gear opened discussions about fit, protection, ventilation, durability, and style. It is a craft to move through the mountains safely and I am a strong believer that mountain travel becomes infinitely easier with the quality of the gear you have with you.  

Hoji in Chile. Austin Ross photo.

The working relationship and friendship we have with Sarah has given the team and I a glimpse into what it takes to design the worlds leading outerwear....

- Lusti


Words by Sarah Wallace: 

When it comes to the question of what it takes to do this job, there are the standard Arc'teryx requisites that for me, now almost go without saying.  Arc'teryx is a premium brand whose success and reputation rests upon its ability to consistently serve up the pinnacle of quality, craftsmanship, and innovation.  As a designer then, it follows that one must maintain a relentless, almost obsessive commitment to pursuing and delivering those three tenets.  But, speaking more from the heart, my belief is that it really comes down to something less...well, less obvious.  What good design work comes down to for me is a mindset, and that mindset is one of inquisitiveness and a desire for lifelong learning.  I’ve been working in this field now for close to 15 years, and almost every day I feel a renewed sense of the importance of scrutinizing, questioning, and challenging assumptions.  Apparel design is not a linear process, nor is there ever truly a right answer…just infinite amounts of variables & alternate choices all of which have the potential to take you to a range of widely divergent destinations.  One has to be able to cope with a lot of uncertainty, so I have conditioned myself to accept that uncertainty is a good thing, as it means that you are not becoming complacent.  I think that there is often a point in each project or design process where we have a tendency to relax and get comfortable…I’ve been trying to train myself to recognize this point and instantly snap out of it. 

Sarah "in the field". Photo by Lusti.

So how does this all relate to product testing trips?  Well I think it’s a pretty logical extension.  Having the opportunity to work with our athletes and use our products in the context they are intended for is such a delight and a privilege.  It exposes me to a whole new series of questions and challenges that I might not otherwise be revealed, and it’s working through these that ultimately allows us to improve on the products’ performance and design.  It’s so beneficial to exchange thoughts and share experiences with the people who truly use and rely on our products on a daily basis for both work and play.  The process inevitably opens up new ideas, dialogues and approaches to product development that I’d never stumble upon on my own.  In the end it all comes back to fostering undying devotion to seek endless innovation, improvement, and refinement.   

- Sarah


Product Testing And The Design Process: With Lusti And Sarah Wallace (Photos by Christina Lusti and Austin Ross)

Lusti in Chile by Austin Ross.