Meet the Woman-Owned Skiwear Brand That Wants To End the ‘Shrink It and Pink It’ Mindset in Snow Sports

Photo: W+G Creative
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Raise your hand if you're a woman skier or snowboarder who's been personally victimized by the skiwear industry. You can't see me, but I'm raising my hand and wailing it around, presumably alongside thousands of other women who frequent the slopes in ill-fitting gear. Traditionally, snow sports apparel has been designed by men, for men (who make up an overwhelming 60 percent of all riders). The companies that do cater to female consumers often fall into the "shrink it and pink it" pitfall—which permeates through most male-dominated sports—taking their standard designs and manufacturing them in smaller sizes, in, ahem, more "feminine" colors and patterns. In fact, one of W+G's top shopping stories is a roundup of the best snow pants for women—something that gets a lot search every winter, for good reason: They're hard to find.

Experts In This Article
  • Ariana Ferweda, Ariana Ferweda is the chief executive officer at Halfdays.
  • Karelle Golda, Karelle Golda is the chief marketing officer at Halfdays.
  • Kiley McKinnon, Kiley McKinnon is a professional freestyle skier and co-founder of Halfdays apparel.

That's exactly why 2018 Olympian Kiley McKinnon, alongside co-founders Ariana Ferweda and Karelle Golda, set out to create Halfdays, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) skiwear brand that's designed by women, for women. When McKinnon made her Olympic debut in PyeongChang, she and the rest of the U.S. freestyle skiing team competed in men's uniforms, regardless of gender, size, or comfort. "We were all competing in the same, unisex gear," she says. "I was representing Team USA in clothing I wasn't even comfortable in."

This wasn't the first time McKinnon to struggled to find the right skiwear. She's been skiing since she was three and she always struggled to find technical apparel that fit correctly, functioned accurately, and looked good. But the Olympics were the lightning bolt—if the best athletes in the world, specifically women, couldn't even get the gear they needed to represent Team USA, what was happening in the rest of snow sports?

'Bye-bye, boys' club'

The brand launched in November 2020 with the ultimate goal to transform the old "boys' club" that's been skiing and outdoor sports into something more inclusive, accessible, and a looot less frustrating for women shopping for ski pants that actually fit. Two years later, and the brand has a full line of functional, stylish ski apparel with a devoted following to boot.

"[Halfdays] is a little bit more fashion, it's for everyday girls," says Ferweda, a retail-strategy consultant turned Halfdays CEO. "The other piece is the accessibility and the approachability [of ski sports], which we've done since day one... I don't want to say we're making it rudimentary, but making it just feel very approachable and inclusive and welcoming for all levels."

Photo: Halfdays

First, there's the clothes, which swap "steezy," oversized sizes and loud patterns for a minimalist color palette in flattering (and sustainable!) silhouettes. Bibs, jackets, softshell pants—the pieces are available in sizes from XS-XXL and adjustable (i.e., slidable shoulder straps, snap-able waistbands), giving women an opportunity to fine-tune their gear to their bodies. "Everything that we've created so far has been with the women's body in mind because that's never been the case before," says McKinnon. "That being said, and us all being skiers, we know that skiwear needs to be technical. So we wanted to make sure that we were keeping that into consideration... because we want people to look at Halfdays as a functional skiwear brand, not just a fashion skiwear brand."

But here's the thing about technical apparel—it's complicated. Anyone who's ever shopped for snow clothes knows words like "gaiters" and "YKK aquaguard zippers" don't make figuring out what your gear should do (and why it should do it) any less intimidating. That's where Halfdays stands-out—there's no decoding what your tech specs do: the zippers are sealed to keep water out. The side zippers on the end of the pants expand to fit over boots. The cell phone leash exists solely so you don't drop your phone off the chairlift. It's not rocket science—it's ski gear. And whether you're hitting the slopes or holding down the chalet hot tub, you'll never want to wear anything else but this brand.

Bunny Slopers to Double Diamond riders—all are welcome

Look at the Halfdays leadership suite and you'll find three badass women who are all very different skiers, but who love the sport all the same. That's the ethos of Halfdays—whether you're an Olympian like McKinnon or are "just here for the apres," as Golda's biography reads on the company's website, all are welcome. To foster a sense of belonging and encourage more women to get on the slopes, the brand is building a community of "Halfdayers" to meet ski buddies, ask for tips, and maybe score some free swag.

"I think the most beautiful part of Halfdays is the fact that people have made connections on their own," explains Golda, Halfdays CMO. Over the summer, the brand started experimenting with IRL events, like hikes and workout classes, to bring customers together. The next iteration of that, Golda explains, is gathering folks on the slopes at Halfdays Meet-ups and getting customers more involved in product testing and development. "A lot of brands make private groups for gear testing or feedback loops exclusive to athletes. For us, we wanted to make it really open to everyone and have an inclusive conversation [as well as an] inclusive community where you don't have to be an Olympic level skier—you don't even have to be a blue level skier—to enjoy the product."

That's why Halfdays launched its Ski Chalet, a Slack channel to engage its passionate customer base. And while you might be thinking, "yawn, another Slack channel," the Ski Chalet is fun (can confirm—I am a proud member) is actually working—since its launch a few weeks ago, its racked up nearly 350 skiers, snowboarders, and other powder hounds from around the globe, some of whom joined the brand's first of many ski meet-ups at mountains like Jackson Hole, Keystone, and Mt. Bachelor on January 30, 2022. Surveys on future color-ways, feedback for product development, photos from run-ins with other Halfdayers on the hill—the Ski Chalet is alive with good vibes, no matter your ski level. Whether you're looking for a buddy to embark on your next backcountry adventure or want to meet up for drinks after a few green runs, it's a way to empower women on the slopes, which is what the brand is all about.

"I would love for all women to know if they've never done any snow sports before is to try to not let it intimidate them," says McKinnon. "I want more women to feel comfortable getting out on the mountain and to feel okay to be on the bunny hill if they're 30 plus years old and they've never done it before. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or an expert... I'm really hoping Halfdays can help change that for everyone on the mountain."

Go from alpine skiing to après in Halfdays skiwear

Lawrence Jacket, Rosè — $365.00

The brand’s best-selling jacket has everything you want in a winter coat. Warmth and waterproofness aside, it’s feature friendly, giving you everything you need to have your own successful Halfday. Think: a phone leash (those chairlifts are high…), a goggle wipe, armpit vents, and an adjustable hood. And the colors?? You’ll never want to ride in anything else.

Alessandra Pant, Frost — $225.00

Bye-bye, bulky snow pants. Hello bottoms you’ll actually want to wear (imagine that.) These core pants are equally warm and water-resistant, made from an eco-friendly fabric that wicks away powder. And while traditional pants aren’t the most flattering, these come with an adjustable waistband that gives you a customized fit in the waist.

Aston Jacket, Black — $425.00

Function meets fashion this ultra-luxe belted coat that looks as good on the hill as it does at afternoon drinks. It’s got all those great features, and is so snug, you won’t have to worry about the freezing cold chairlift ride. The star of the show is that belted silhouette that looks stunning wherever you wear it. We’re in love.

Carson Bib, Spritz — $295.00

Ever been halfway down your run only to realize your pants are falling down? Yeah… never worry about that again and get this bib instead. We know—traditional overalls have been, um, not so cute (or way too cute, as in, childish). These? You’ll never want to take them off. Between the color, adjustable fit in the waist and shoulders, and so many pockets, these bibs will be your new BFF.

Johnson Top, Banana — $95.00

Whether you’re riding the slopes, going out for a jog, or just braving the cold, this base layer is a must for winter wardrobes. It’s made from a stretchy, soft recycled nylon that keeps body heat in without completely cutting off your circulation. Layered or alone, it’s the real deal.

Sophia Legging, Canyon — $95.00

We are firm believers that you can never have too many leggings. Enter, the Sophia, a cozy base layer you can wear under your ski stuff or by itself. Like the Johnson top, it’s made from that warm, stretchy nylon that’s super snuggly. The breathable mesh calf and compressive waistband get high marks from us, too.

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