By Michael Sudmeier
Nine years ago, a group of friends spent their days on the slopes of Aspen and their evenings tuning and selling equipment. Frustrated by skis and boards that fell apart as the season unfolded, they hatched a plan to create products that could withstand spending every day on the mountain. Since then, they’ve built a brand that’s won numerous awards and developed a reputation for a streamlined collection of premium equipment and apparel.
“In 2003, Reggie Charles, Jeremy Rungi, and I were working for a local shop,” explains High Society cofounder Jason Flynn. “We were shredding pow and park every chance we got and spending all of our money on gear.” As the season progressed, however, much of this gear fell apart. “Almost nothing in the industry was tough enough for the local Aspen crews,” explains Charles. “We saw a need for better boards and skis that guys like us could get behind.” After the three pooled their meager savings to make a few boards, High Society was born and it hit the ground running.
Although Aspen locals quickly embraced the brand, retailers were initially confused. “Not many ski shops sold snowboards,” offers Charles, “and basically zero snowboard shops wanted anything to do with skis.” At the time, there were few boutique brands in the industry and the freeride movement was just gaining momentum. Luckily, notes Charles, “Just enough people got exactly what we were going for.”
The Freeride Foundation
High Society made its debut in winter, but the brand didn’t hibernate when the snow melted. “We started High Society because we wanted to make better products that we could use in our daily lives,” explains Charles. “In the winter that meant skis and snowboards and in the spring and summer that meant streetwear, skate decks, and mountain bike apparel.” Recently, the brand unveiled an outerwear collection. According to Flynn, outerwear was a natural progression in the brand’s commitment to crafting “premium necessities.” For High Society, this focus on premium products helps ensure that the brand is constantly evolving. Next year, for example, much of High Society’s outerwear will rely on Cocona fabrics to provide even greater waterproofing and breathability.
Here’s a l0ok at High Society’s upcoming apparel and hardgoods lines:
“We like to look at High Society not as a ski company, not as a snowboard company, not as a clothing company, but as the first true freeride lifestyle brand,” offers Charles.
The brand, however, resists being defined by the products it creates. “We like to look at High Society not as a ski company, not as a snowboard company, not as a clothing company, but as the first true freeride lifestyle brand,” offers Charles. For Flynn, the freeride lifestyle is defined not by the terrain one rides, but by “a passion for living life to the fullest—be it in the peaks or the streets, beaches or clubs.” This passion serves as the unifying force for a team that includes snowboarders, skiers, skaters, surfers, and downhill bikers. Throughout the year, the brand also sponsors events that are just as likely to take place on the beach as in the mountains. According to Marty Carrigan, who handles sales and distribution for High Society, the passion that defines the brand transcends tax brackets. He explains, “It does not matter if you own the jet, fly the jet, or wash the jet, High Society is a lifestyle everyone in action sports lives.”