The Outsider: Why retro ski gear is worth all the nostalgia
December 28, 2015
It's kind of eerie to see fashion trends come back to life.
A few years ago (maybe 2007?) Electric introduced the first set of massive spherical goggles I'd ever seen: The EG2. They were the coolest things on the market — big, fat, round, mirrored — and of course all the snowboard pros I kept tabs on were wearing them.
They were also ridiculously expensive, something like $160. And that's without the polarized lenses. I knew I couldn't justify spending that much on eyewear, not as a soon-to-be college grad, so I made the EG2s the one thing on my Christmas list. Like all gear purchases it was a small ransom, but my parents and grandparents pooled together and got me my first pair of EG2s.
Man, I was pumped — until my dad remembered something. We were talking about goggles and gear and "back in my day…" stories when he said the worst thing imaginable.
"They look like goggles I had back in the '70s," he said. "Yeah, they were big like that to fit over my glasses."
I can't remember my exact reaction, but I probably feigned disgust and joked about tossing my new babies in the garbage. You know, typical 20-something junk. Truth is, I was more dumbstruck by the reason my dad's goggles were so big. It wasn't a fashion statement — it was practical. Now, my supposedly groundbreaking EG2s were somewhere between the two. It's not embarrassing or disappointing or tacky. It's just … eerie.
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Later that day, I asked my dad what skiers said about his ungodly sized goggles back then and he honestly couldn't remember. It must not have been too bad. I also asked how much those cost, and all he could remember is that they definitely didn't run $160. Then I asked if the goggles were still around. Did they really look alike?
No, the goggles were long gone, but this trip down memory lane led to a metal wardrobe of ski gear in my parents' basement. I always knew that my dad had tons of vintage gear — he skied the same K2s for at least 20 years — but it was still a treat to browse through all the clothing, all the fashions from a '70s-era Colorado ski town. There were Nordic knickers, hand-woven socks, a vintage race suit, woolen hats with reindeers and teepees. It felt like rummaging through a hipster's closet, only with no name brands and the slight smell of mothballs.
Earlier this year, I did what any ski bum does and raided my parents' clothing collection for retro ski gear. It's a thing at Christmas (ugly sweater parties) and on April Fools Day (aka Gaper Day), and you'd better believe that real retro is better than faux retro. That's the smell of history.
I'm betting there are dozens of retro gear collectors in the county, plus dozens of longtime locals who ski every day on something youngsters (like myself) consider retro. I'd love to hear from you.
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