BLACKYAK sees itself as an outfitter in the premium segment. The collection is meant to appeal to extreme mountain climbers and athletes.
However, it’s also intended to look fashionable and stylish when going on a walk or on the way to the office, not like some outdoor outfit that’s pretty out of place in an urban environment. That’s how Maximilian Nortz, Managing Director of International Business, describes the brand’s self-image.
Clear design lines shape the products
“We’ve made nearly 80 percent of our collection tonal with the logos,” says Nortz, “That way we have the added value that I can wear the jacket even in the most extreme conditions in high mountaineering, but also for my normal athletic activities and if I want to take it to the office.” The topic of design is one of the most important for BLACKYAK.
The design lines of the yak have been integrated into nearly every product, to emphasize this unique feature in the design language. Horns, cheekbones, or even the nose of the yak can be seen in jackets, hoodies, and vests. This is meant to make it immediately recognizable that it’s a BLACKYAK product.
On the search for suitable designers who could implement this, however, not only was technical excellence decisive, it was also important to find someone who worked with the team and helped implement the BLACKYAK philosophy.
Hybrid Jacket as a model student
Nortz believes that perfection has been achieved in the Hybrid Jacket, winner of the ISPO AWARD 2016/17 in gold.
“You recognize the jacket from ten meters away, with the chamber distribution alone, how the proportions look on the body, and with the technical mesh pockets,” says the managing director, and the delight in the product is written all over his face.
All kinds of materials are used in the Hybrid Jacket: Cordura Ripstop and 4-way stretch, goose down (with proof of origin) in 3D chambers, Primaloft Gold, Polartec Alpha, Polartec Power GridTM fleece and Thermal Pro.
The jacket was designed for highly active athletes, for ski touring, for example.
Ambassadors joining the development
To be sure that the jacket, just like all of the other products, works in practice, BLACKYAK focuses on a few high-class ambassadors.
Among them are Poland’s Adam Bielecki, one of the most renowned high mountaineers, and Jost Kobusch, a young German who’s made it his goal to climb all of the eight-thousanders single-handedly and without oxygen.
When selecting the athletes, importance was placed on human components matching and the athletes fitting in with the team.
“These athletes are bringing us incredibly important feedback,” says Nortz, but that also means an enormous expenditure of time: “But we can only truly make a product well when we have enough time for it.”
If there isn’t enough time, BLACKYAK would rather skip a new release and come back to a season later, in order to launch a perfect product.
DNS as development partner
In total, BLACKYAK works off of a ten-step plan, step by step, for new products. To this end, partnerships need to be established with major manufacturers like Cordura, Primaloft, and Polartec in the case of the Hybrid Jacket, or even with Gore-Tex.
In doing so, BLACKYAK is cooperating with DNS – development never stops. They are “pioneers in development work for technical garments,” says Nortz. From the first sketch all the way to the prototypes, BLACKYAK’s collection pieces are developed and prepared at DNS.
The managing director describes the collaboration with the Swiss as highly intensive and very strenuous, since many emotions are attached to the products. In this regard, DNS is absolutely the right partner.
KTC is the manufacturer of choice for BLACKYAK
The very same is true of KTC in manufacture: “KTC is one of our most important and, in my opinion, best manufacturers for high-quality clothing with truly excellent detail work,” says Nortz.
KTC, a manufacturer in South China, already provides 98 to 99 of the quality of the final product in the salesman sample. The company is a market leader in the field high technical quality, premium sportswear. KTC is also a member of the Fair Labor Foundation.
Of course the products have their price, but not because BLACKYAK want to rake in as much as they can – rather, because quality likewise has its price, Nortz summarizes, “but you recognize what’s great about it relatively quickly: This isn’t one red apple next to 100 other red apples. This here is something unique.”