31 October 2022

In celebration of Moncler’s 70th anniversary, END. takes a deep dive into the brand’s milestone achievements and cultural importance over the past seven decades.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever
70 years ago, in the snowy, mountainous Alpine town of Monestier-de-Clermont, France, a brand was born as a solution to the unforgiving environments surrounding it: Moncler. The snow-capped mountains and rugged trails provided a necessity that kickstarted Moncler's aims: to create the best possible products that protected its wearers, irrespective of how difficult the conditions they faced were.

The brand has progressively evolved in the seven decades since it was born, pushing boundaries with everything from its trailblazing Genius collections to monumental fashion week spectacles. Each decade has represented significant eras for the brand, ones achieved through Moncler’s unwavering desire to broaden the horizon of not just their own vision, but outerwear in general. Each singular moment in the history of Moncler forms individual pieces of a broader, ever-expanding mosaic, one where people, culture and places all unite.

Italian explorers completing the first successful expedition to the summit of K2 in 1954. Championship-winning French ski teams in the Winter Olympics in 1968. Paninaro youths in Milanese Plazas during the 1980s. A sea of dancers taking over the Piazza del Duomo in 2022. All of these events were made possible not just through Moncler’s relentless desire to innovate, but also the community of dedicated followers the label has fostered throughout its seven decades in existence.

With “Moncler Extraordinary Forever”, END. takes a look back at the milestones, the people and the places that have formed fundamental pillars in the Moncler history, delving into their importance in the identity of the iconic label.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

In 1952, Moncler was founded by René Ramillon and Andreé Vincent with an aim much simpler, yet just as performance minded, than the monolithic scope of the brand today: to create sleeping bags and tents that protected mountaineers. What would mark the beginning of the Moncler we know today was almost a byproduct of this, with the brand’s workers needing protection travelling to and from the Moncler factory. This sparked the idea to create a protective, quilted jacket to combat the cold temperatures, marking just the beginning for Moncler's expansion into outerwear.

But it wouldn’t take long until the label began to gain attention from other individuals immersed in these unforgiving climates, too; in 1954, legendary French mountaineer, Lionel Terray, foresaw the potential Moncler had in performance outwear, joining forces with the brand to create its first specialist range: “Moncler pour Lionel Terray”. That very same year marked another enormous milestone for Moncler and outerwear exploration; 11 Italian mountaineers, including Eirch Abram, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli, set out on a debut expedition to the summit of the second-highest mountain in the world, K2, requiring garments purpose built to withstand its extreme, sub-zero temperatures. That’s where Moncler came in, with the label providing functional garments and technical equipment to enable them to successfully reach K2’s summit, following countless unsuccessful attempts from other explorers. What explorers needed was a jacket capable of performing in extreme climates, something warming with an emphasis on utilitarian detailing. That jacket was Moncler’s Karakorum, constructed with double-down insulation and adjustable toggles — a formula which established the blueprint for Moncler jackets of today. Ultimately, the ascent of K2’s summit set the tone for what would become an integral element of Moncler’s identity — a synergy with the mountains and a desire to create product that pushes boundaries. 

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

By the time the late ‘60s had arrived, Moncler was well and truly in full swing — it had outfitted K2 mountaineers in 1954, supplied jackets to a French expedition of Mount Makalù in 1955 and became the supplier to Alaskan expeditions, brokered by Lionel Terray, in 1964. What was abundantly clear, then, was that Moncler could create garments capable of withstanding being pushed to their very limits — making Moncler the natural choice to outfit the French downhill ski team at the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968. The occasion proved fruitful for both the ski team and Moncler, with the former winning four gold, three silver and two bronze medals and the latter becoming a household name. Ultimately, feats like this have helped propel Moncler’s ubiquity in outerwear — a staple figure for serious, medal-winning athletes and record-breaking explorers.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

Being a ski instructor means long, strenuous days spent in the harshest of climates. In other words, the perfect environment for Moncler outerwear to thrive in. Since beginning in 1972, in Alpe d’Huez, France, Moncler has outfitted ski instructors in premium resorts across the globe, allowing them to carry out their extremely-demanding jobs with as much protection and performance as possible. From that day on, the message surrounding Moncler outerwear would be clear: if it's the go-to choice for those who spend their lives teaching others how to ski, then it should be the go-to choice for recreational skiiers.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

By the time the 1980s came around, Moncler had well and truly established itself in its mountainous pursuits — slopes, trails, summits, you name it, Moncler excelled at it. During this period, however, there was another group bringing the Moncler name under the spotlight, and it wasn’t snowy Alpine mountains that were their testing grounds, but sprawling metropolises. The group in question was the Paninari: a youth-driven subculture that used sandwich shops and fast-food restaurants as their meeting ground — hence the Paninari name, derived from the Italian word for sandwich, “Panino” — renowned for their love of American culture, motorbikes and premium fashion brands.

It was a time of rising economic prosperity in Italy — following previous decades of political conflict — something which the Paninari wore like a badge of honour. A Moncler jacket has always held the ability to deliver an instant symbol of status; shiny nylon laqué, intricate baffles, the iconic rooster logo — all of these things culminated into making Moncler a Paninari favourite, a staple in their uniform of brightly-coloured outerwear, premium denim and lugged boat shoes. The Paninari lifestyle became something all-encompassing, with their own magazine, music videos named after them — Pet Shop Boys' “Paninaro” from 1986 — and even their own language.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

On the 20th February 2018, guests were invited to an experiential hangar hosted by Moncler to celebrate the opening night of Milan fashion week. What guests experienced within was something familiar, yet unlike nothing before: Moncler’s signature puffer jackets reworked, exaggerated — spliced with design cues possessing an air of finesse reminiscent of some of the industry’s finest. It was, as we now know, Moncler’s Genius collection: a groundbreaking initiative designed to eschew fashion calendar convention, instead favouring regular collections that fuse the design language of industry vanguards with Moncler. It was, and still is, an enormous success, ultimately allowing Moncler to tap into the audiences of a slew of coveted brands while staying true to their heritage codes. Moncler and Rick Owens. Moncler and JW Anderson. Moncler and Craig Green. All of these represent the fusion of shared visions from different areas of the creative spectrum, resulting in a design sensibility rooted in expanding the boundaries of high fashion and outerwear.

The first year of Moncler’s Genius collaborations ended with a collection designed by Valentino’s Creative Director, Pier Paolo Piccioli. The collection was designed with the “pure essence” of Moncler in mind, stripping things back to create something that weaved together haute couture and outerwear in unison. The silhouettes were streamlined, dress-like — intently designed to create an otherworldly appearance reminiscent of early renaissance paintings.  

In 2020, guests were invited to a Genius launch event in an abandoned factory located on the east side of Milan, within it eight separate collections spearheaded by luminaries from the fashion industry. Despite each one representing something unique, distinct and progressive as each other, Richard Quinn’s is regarded as one of the standout collections, for a number of reasons. It represented an exploration into the retrofuturism of the ‘60s — think references to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Quinn’s signature flower patterns and couture takes on Moncler’s signature down jackets.  

Moncler Extraordinary Forever

Since day one, protection has been a fundamental element of Moncler, with garments and products purpose built to thrive in unforgiving climates. While the focus on protecting its wearers is something that’s remained a constant with Moncler, the aim has broadened to encompass something much bigger: the protection of the planet. At the beginning of this year, Moncler debuted its “Born to Protect” campaign: a collection and initiative aimed at moving towards an eco-minded future. This includes emphasising use of recycled and regenerated materials, as well as introducing five main drivers to ensure Moncler moves forward in a considered, eco-minded manner: Act on Climate Change, Think Circular, Be Fair, Nurture Genius and Give Back.

Moncler Extraordinary Forever