On the eve of their 35th anniversary, Penfield is at the top of the game, setting cutting edge standards in the industry they helped create. Every design manufactured by Penfield incorporates an element of fashion, function, practicality and durability; made only by those who truly know and love the outdoors. Embracing nature’s elements and conducting what they refer to as “product testing” accurately allows the team at Penfield to uncover what is needed to provide warmth, active comfort, and years of superior performance.
Although the roots of this brand lie within the outdoor industry, years of experience have allowed Penfield to extend their business further. Collaborating with top streetwear brands Maharahsi, Wood Wood, Atmos, and Stussy has broadened their market and shown that Penfield clothing is not only made to outlast anything, but is made to be worn by the masses and trendsetters alike.
“We are on the road much of the time researching and scouting new fabrics and garment ideas, but at the same time we owe a great deal to our past and we have an amazing archive of Penfield garments from the last 35 years to work with.”
Format: Please introduce yourself to our readers and describe your role at Penfield.
Jamie Barshall: My name is Jamie Barshall. I am CEO and Creative Director
Format: What major factors encouraged you to create the brand?
Jamie Barshall: Harvey Gross created the Penfield brand in Massachusetts in 1975. Harvey is now retired and continues to live in Massachusetts. A few years ago we met up and eventually he agreed to trust me to continue his work, but he still comes in and kicks the tyres once in a while.
Format: How has the brand grown since its inception in 1975?
Jamie Barshall: Even though Penfield reaches a much wider audience these days, I think we have stayed true to our core values and consistent in our approach to the quality of our product. Many of the items that are in the line today have been in the line pretty much unchanged since 1975.
Format: The brand is created by those who love the outdoors. Would you consider yourself to be an outdoors type?
Jamie Barshall: We call it ‘product testing’. I definitely love the outdoors and am happiest waist deep in powder or in the middle of a fishy looking river. Most adventurous would be heli skiing in the Kamloops.
Format: You have built a reputation for making the highest quality down-filled jackets, fleece and outwear. How do you manage to uphold this standard?
Jamie Barshall: We work really hard at this and 35 years of experience helps. We are completely committed to making the best product in our category.
Format: You have collaborated with various brands including Maharashi, Wood Wood, Atmos, and Stussy; all popular brands in the realm of streetwear. Why did you feel there was a place for Penfield in this market?
Jamie Barshall: We felt that these projects helped us to think beyond our usual horizons and they have also been fun and pushed us creatively. The brands we have collaborated with are innovators and ground-breakers in their fields and it has been great to fuse some of that DNA with Penfield’s.
Format: Describe your research process. How do you continue to improve and develop new fabric and garment innovations?
Jamie Barshall: We don’t sit in an office waiting for it to come to us. We are on the road much of the time researching and scouting new fabrics and garment ideas, but at the same time we owe a great deal to our past and we have an amazing archive of Penfield garments from the last 35 years to work with.
Format: What is the significance of your signature bear head logo?
Jamie Barshall: The bear is an iconic symbol of the great outdoors and also represents our heritage and our love of nature and the environment. For many years now Penfield has supported an organisation called WSPA who have a number of programs to protect and rescue bears around the world. We feel that if we use the bear’s image in our logo then we also have a responsibility to give something back to them.
Format: Any other brands that you are planning or would like to collaborate with?
Jamie Barshall: We have just finished a new project with Rag and Bone for fall ‘09
Format: What does the future hold for Penfield?
Jamie Barshall: 2010 will be our 35th anniversary so we’ll be releasing some special product for that. Apart from that we aim to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the next 35 years.