“Slaves To Fashion”: Gretchen Bleiler shows off her new line on Glamour.com
Cool Chick You Need To Meet: Gretchen Bleiler, Snowboarder, Designer, Total Trailblazer
Here’s the thing about being the single most-accomplished female snowboarder in the world that kind of sucked for a while: There was no wardrobe! And then Gretchen Bleiler, an Aspen-bred beauty with a few X Games and Olympic medals under her belt, teamed up with Oakley to change all of that.
I recently got to spend the weekend with Gretchen in Aspen, taking in the Cover Girl Snow Angels Invitational (a halfpipe competition with the world’s best female boarders, all asked to compete by Gretchen) and getting to see Oakley’s latest Gretchen Bleiler collection, a line of gear she had a huge hand in designing. She’s been snowboarding since she was 11 years old, racking up awards and accolades across the globe–all while wearing men’s size XS boarding gear.
Clearly, a girl who has a self-admitted “purse problem” (Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs are her true weaknesses) couldn’t be content wearing boys’ clothes in the smallest size. So she and Oakley got together to create the kinds of clothes she always wished she could wear on the mountain. The first collection is in stores now, and the second will hit this fall. “The main goal was to make it you know for the ladies, but not cutesy,” Gretchen says. “There’s finally some girls’ stuff out now, but it’s all pink! There’s a lot of cutesy stuff out there, and the goal here was to be sophisticated and fun but edgy at the same time.”
Rather than slapping her name on the line, Gretchen spent endless hours with the Oakley design team–“I think they might think I’m a little too involved!” she tells me–developing just the right signature mix of edgy graphics, smart details, and bright, bold colors. “It’s the most technical outerwear out there, ” she says, “but it also really elevates the fashion thing.” She saw a Japanese boarder at a competition a few months back with her pants sagging just so, and was totally inspired to bring the same detail to her own line. The result is a pant that gives the appearance of hanging low on your bum without actually falling off–“Because the sag look is cool in snowboarding, but having your butt hang out is not,” she says.
I also was lucky enough to see Gretchen in action, and I gotta say, the girl kicks some serious arse–and happens to look pretty chic while doing it. Check out Oakley’s full Gretchen Bleiler collection now on their website, and then let us know what you think. Do any of you girls board? Have you been wearing boys’ clothes, like Gretchen? And are you as inspired as I am by how she turned her snowboarding passion into something so damn stylish? Discuss!