Born in the Mountains
While Kuhl is known today for great fitting pants and wool sweaters, the origins of the Kuhl story can be traced back to the snowy Wasatch Mountains of 1983 with a Peruvian-inspired polar fleece cap known as the “Alf Hat.” The hat was the brainchild of John “Alf” Engwall, who partnered with a young Conrad Anker and brothers Jay and Kevin Boyle to market the “Alf” to serious skiers and mountaineers. Driven to build a business around the mountain lifestyle they loved, as well as to fund the obsession with climbing and skiing that they all shared, they founded a company called Alfwear.
The Alf Hat became the go-to choice of avid powder skiers in the ‘80s and the fledgling company enjoyed a relative amount of success. Then tragedy struck when a car accident took the life of John Engwall. The three remaining partners continued to run the business for several more years, until in 1989, following the loss of several key accounts, the original Alfwear partnership was dissolved. Conrad Anker went on to pursue his legendary career as a professional mountaineer and Jay Boyle began to attend graduate school. What remained of the company (several boxes of the original Alf Hat) was left to Kevin Boyle who went to work transforming the brand.
Drawing on his passion for skiing, art, and mountain life, Kevin envisioned a new line of clothing, and in 1990 he turned Alfwear into the company we know today as Kuhl. The first product Kuhl introduced was the Jacquard Jacket; a fleece top featuring thumb-loop cuffs (a first in outdoor clothing) and underarm gussets for freedom of movement. The jacket rapidly became popular in the outdoor community and even won the Polartec Apex Award for Design Excellence.
As the company began to build on the success of the Jacquard Jacket, careful attention was paid to ensure that the skiing and climbing lifestyle lived by the founders would continue to inspire and guide the brand—an initiative that is maintained to this day. Design work continued and the line expanded to include pants, shirts, shorts, and hats for both men and women. Today, the Kuhl line of clothing features unique weaves, carefully selected fabrics, vintage washes, and renowned attention to fit—especially with their pants. You’d be hard pressed to find a genuine disciple of mountain culture who doesn’t have a pair of Kuhl pants in their weekly rotation, evidence of the like-minded designers who bring each Kuhl garment into existence. For great fit, freedom of movement, and a sense of style that is truly “born in the mountains,” look no further than Kuhl.