Founded in 1952 by French outdoorsman and entrepreneur René Ramillon, Moncler celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The brand’s origin is rooted in pure utility: Legend has it that Ramillon created Moncler’s first down jackets in order to keep his employees warm (the company was located in Monestier-de-Clermont—for which the name ‘Moncler’ serves as an abbreviation—an Alpine town near Grenoble, France).
Soon, after patenting his down production process, Ramillon and co. set about collaborating with the world’s leading mountaineers on life-threateningly frigid missions: Moncler provided equipment for the first successful ascent of both K2 (by Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni in 1954) and Makalu (by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy, 1955). In 1964, along with Terray, the brand organized the first ascent of Mt. Huntington in Alaska.
From these rugged roots, Moncler down jackets became a stylish status symbol in subsequent decades. Today, the brand embraces the dualistic nature of its heritage—continuing to manufacture down-filled outerwear to expedition specs, while also partnering with leading designers to create avant-garde, sport-inspired fashion statements. Watch this interview with Thom Browne, who designs Moncler’s experimental Gamme Bleu collection, for a taste of the latter—and delve deeper into Moncler’s history below.
Adventurers in the Himalayas, 1962.
[First Image]: Renowned French explorer Lionel Terray, who played a key role in consulting on Moncler’s high-performance designs, in Alaska, 1964.
Scenes from the first successful ascent to the summit of K2, July 1954, for which Moncler provided the equipment. Note the ‘stockroom’—who needs a refrigerator?
Terray in Alaska, 1964. If you look closely, his tent is proudly labeled ‘Moncler.’
Expedition notes from the Moncler archive. Anyone read Italian?
A vintage Moncler ad from the 1970s.
Ski instructors at L’Alpe d’Huez ski resort in the French Alps, 1970.
An ad from the ’80s. Powder’s great on the moon this time of year.
Assorted Moncler ads from the 1950s and early ’60s.
For more winter-ready gear, check out our Snow Shop.
[All images courtesy of Moncler. Vintage imagery via Vogue Italia; product still-lifes via Moncler.com. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]