Mountain Research: Disrupting Outdoor Wear One Garment at a Time
Written by Ali George Hinkins
Mountain Research was founded in 2006, but it wasn’t the designer, Kobayashi Setsumasa, first time at the helm of a brand. Instead, in 1993, for 13 years, he led the latter’s predecessor, General Research, through a defining period in Japanese fashion. To understand Mountain Research better, it helps to establish some of the groundwork. As its name suggested, General Research (GR) wasn’t to be pigeonholed by anyone, instead exploring references from punk music, military wear and outdoor performance garments and allowing Kobayashi to ‘research’ these areas to his heart's content. Without this, we wouldn’t have been blessed with the experimental ‘Parasite’ jackets, to name one of many so-called grails, that are said to have featured close to 100 pockets.
As it happens, GR ceased to exist in 2006 and was renamed ‘Mountain Research’ to pick up where it had left off. It wasn’t necessarily a full rebrand, it was more a case of pivoting and looking at utilitarian design in a different way, simultaneously switching up ‘General’ for ‘Mountain’ to reflect Kobayashi’s growing love of nature through a familiar creative medium: garment design.
Not afraid to wander off the beaten path, Mountain Research frequently refers to itself as ‘Anarcho Mountaineers’ to sum up its off-piste approach to outdoor wear. Maintaining its utilitarian roots, the brand consistently explores themes of outdoor, military, naval, workwear and mountaineering wear with some added twists like patchwork detailing and deconstructing garments. The result is a tasteful range of pocket-heavy, but not garishly so, bottoms, outerwear, graphic tee shirts, shirting and accessories, all of which lean on the sources of inspiration in a way that is defining for Mountain Research.
Whilst the clothing itself doesn’t seem too radical, I think that it’s more to do with the anecdotes of Kobayashi and the design team retreating to the mountains, taking refuge in a mountain retreat in Setsumasa, to determine the direction of that season’s collection. As far as things go, I’m not sure that many, if any, design teams can say they pack up shop and head to the mountains when it comes time to conceptualise its Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter ranges.
Autumn/Winter ‘22 marks the first season that This Thing of Ours will be a carrier of the brand and they will receive three introductory styles, including the 4 Zips Parka, Folks Jacket and Folks Pants. As its name suggests, the 4 Zips Parka features 4 four functioning zippers throughout the jacket - 2 on the front and 2 on the rear - that allow the wearer to customise the way they style the jacket. There will be two colours of this parka, Brown/Beige and Black/Grey. Adding some well-needed warmth, the Folks Jacket and coordinating Pants offer that through their polyester construction with the addition of cuffed openings for a better fit and to prevent wind from entering. These two pieces will be available in Camel Brown.
Mountain Research is available to purchase now online and in-store from This Thing of Ours.