HOW THE STORY OF OUR SUCCESS BEGINS
25th ANNIVERSARY. VIST EVOLUTION: FROM SKI GEAR TOWARDS SKI FASHION
Once upon a time
It was the beginning of the nineties when Elmar Stimpfl, still racing with the best Italian ski clubs and then with the Italian ski team, could not find appropriate plates on the market to boost his performance. Athletic passion, the driving force of his career and creativity, instinctively propelled him toward his first entrepreneurial adventure. What seems to be a marginal accessory has, in reality, great potentiality and is very sought-after by professional skiers. Together with Roberto Vivian his partner then, he decided to start his first small production of plates that he then sold directly, thanks to his international contacts, to athletes of the world of ski racing. From the combination of the first letters of the two partners’ surnames, in 1997 VIST was born, the Italian ski plate brand that in only a short time would turn out to be the seed of a greater, successful entrepreneurial project. From the very beginning, VIST plates have been highly performing, resistant and reliable, able to exponentially multiply the performances of athletes on the snow whilst, at the same time, limiting vibrations on the backbone. VIST quickly became the most important producer of functional race plates in the world. A goal consecrated by the portraits of the German athlete, Katia Seizinger, immortalized on the top step of the podium next to her skis and VIST plates at the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998.
For Vist this experience was fundamental and inspired the evolution towards the merging of technology and fashion, which in the past were two strongly opposing factors, but which are now the true pillars of the brand’s philosophy. It only took a short while before everything began to grow and change. In 2001, the first garments for the professional ski race sector were created. In 2003, by acquiring a business branch from Benetton, VIST began the production of bindings to the side that of the plates. A daring move, which has remained vivid in the memory of Elmar Stimpfl, “I remember those nights very well, after the decision to take over the patents and production of the bindings. We had bought the new offices in Caldaro, in the province of Bolzano, and signed with Benetton within only a few days and no information had been disclosed on the agreement. The headlines wrote VIST bought Benetton’s bindings and the banks called us to find out if we were crazy”. A folly that, as sometimes it occurs, is only the beginning of a successful adventure.
From tech to glam
In 2004, VIST launched its bindings on the market, specifically the V614 model, which had already received in 2002 the prestigious Innovation Award for its design. In this way, VIST passed from the production of plates to that of complete systems with SpeedLock, the first and only integrated plate-binding system, which allowed the binding to be attached to the plate without the need of any type of tool. In the meantime, other ideas took shape: in 2004, VIST presented its first complete collection of apparel and the RACE line, becoming the official supplier for the National British ski team. From the men’s Pro Track jacket, in Polartec Power Shield, to the Pro Track Woman outfit, the VIST collections received the APEX Award for design and practicality. “That year some athletes of the British ski team entered for the first time the top 15 places in the World Cup”, Elmar recalls, “and that was a great piece of luck for us, as our brand gained an incredible visibility on the media also for the apparel, arousing a strong interest that convinced us to continue in this direction”. At the same time, VIST created its first mini ski line that moved into the top market segment in just a few years and achieved excellent results in the most important tests worldwide. By then, the company was producing all that was necessary on track: plates, bindings, technical apparel and skis. In 2005 VIST also fitted out the Czech Republic’s national ski team and, in the same year, officially opened its first single brand shop in Bassano del Grappa, in the province of Vicenza.
Ski, but chic!
Everything that takes shape in VIST has a special trait, as it always combines the highest technology and maximum attention to performance with a style inspired by Italian design and fashion. An interpretation of success that, thanks to the project handled on behalf of VIST by the communication agency Plus Communications, finds its perfect expression in the neologism “skichic”, for years a label of VIST ski and apparel collections. A strong and rapid growth of the brand, highly appreciated in the world, boosted other original adventures, which once again anybody would call insane. The Ghanaian athlete, Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong, who had never worn a pair of skis, dreamt of taking part in the Olympic Games. VIST, and the Fiemme Valley, helped him achieve this goal. From the courage and determination of this visionary “snow leopard”, the inspiration for the first women’s apparel collection, the Snow Leopard Limited Edition, was born and created by VIST in 2006. The following year, the new eccentric Aurum collection saw 24-carat gold as the main protagonist, thanks to which VIST received the Trend & Innovation Gallery Award at the Sportitaly show in Bolzano, for product style and uniqueness, and investments in communication.
VIST is now a successful designer label, an original and ever innovative combination of fashion and technicality: fitting out ski champions of international fame, from Prince Albert of Monaco to Paris Hilton, wearing Aurum outfits on the tracks in Ischgl, in Austria. Between 2008 and 2009 the temporary VIST stores in Milano, the fashion capital, and Porto Cervo, the Italian good life capital, were opened.
Following the winter
The high technical expertise, a sure instinct for the latest fashion trends and the irrepressible spirit of brand innovation are the themes developed in an original and unexpected manner in the extraordinary visual book created in 2012 with Oliviero Toscani. Here ski champions and instructors, men and women snow lovers, the perfect testimonials of the VIST spirit, are masterfully captured. The brand has reached its peak in a continuous search for the increasingly highest quality and functional standards, able to tell its story and product philosophy with strong, distinctive and challenging advertising campaigns.
These years immediately follow the global economic crisis whose effects are felt in all productive sectors of the country. Regardless of the objectives achieved, something began to break and VIST had to face a difficult change. While from 2011 plates and bindings were made by the spin-off company, VIST Tech, that launched the brand further with important product innovations, the production of apparel would temporarily follow a different path.
For Elmar Stimpfl this was only a temporary division, as VIST is his life engine, the fruit of his athletic passion and his creative vision of winter, an idea that cannot fizzle out in the face of difficulties: “A brand like ours cannot go on if it loses its identity. Its strength lies in the people who together commit themselves, body and soul, to a common mission. For these reasons, in twenty years I have never let go and have never thought of really giving up”. In 2014, thanks to new investments, VIST returned under the guidance of Elmar and his team, with the aim of maintaining its identity even in the future: a deep Italian entrepreneurial idea, that entwines technology and glamour, combines high performance and style, accompanies great worldwide ski champions to the top steps of the podium, outfits internationally famous celebrities, continues to research and experiment, and astonishes like only the real “Made in Italy” is able to. On the strength of this improved entrepreneurial project, in 2015 VIST became a sponsor of the Russian Ski Federation, opened a single brand shop in Cortina d’Ampezzo and received the ISPO Award in the category “Ski - Rental & Service Equipment” for its new Junior ski binding.
In January 2017, together with the new Skichic and Snow Leopard collections for the 2017/18 season, VIST presented the Ventinverni capsule collection at the ISPO exhibition to celebrate its twentieth anniversary.
Benvenuti a Milano
In 2017, the VIST headquarters were relocated to the fashion capital, Milan, from the authentic town of Caldaro, Dolomites. This taught our company new values which are, by now, embedded within us. From this important move, a lot of new opportunities arose; some of those are highlighted henceforth.
Our expertise has allowed us to support athletes on the Olympic stage by producing state-of-the-art apparel – otherwise known as the Scuderia VIST collection. In the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, we were proudly technical suppliers of eight national Olympic committees: Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. In fact, as the official supplier of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, we were ecstatic to hear that Bulgaria was selected as one of the top ten outfits in the Opening Ceremony.
Furthermore, in 2018 we became an official supplier of the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association. Marc Heywood, Director of operations, quoted: "British skeleton is proud to work closely with VIST - a company that shares our values and echoes our determination to be the very best we can be."
Also we expanded from exclusively producing winter collections to launching the golf and beachwear capsule collection under the brand Aurum Milano.
In 2019, the company became the official outfitter of the Saslong FIS World Cup in Val Gardena, Dolomites.
To this day, we continue to be an official winter kit supplier of Olympic and Paralympic teams. In 2021 we announced our official partnership with team Ireland up to the Olympic Games at Milano 2026. Ireland, as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Kyrgyzstan, were fitted in the VIST brand for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing-2022. The National Paralympic Team of Ukraine represented our brand at the Paralympic Games in 2022.
In 2021 VIST developed a co-branding cooperation with FILA China and launched the co-branding collection FILA-VIST. It continues the special collaboration with FILA China in 2022 and 2023.
This year VIST is 25 years old. Throughout its 25-year history, VIST has evolved from producing ski equipment (specifically plates and bindings) to ski garments and has managed to carve out a niche for itself among the top players of the winter sports world. Now we are focusing on racing outfits as well as on high-quality, fashionable ski wear that is ideal for leisure activities. In the field of races and competitions, VIST has gained the trust of professionals in the sector. Today, we are in the midst of developing a new collection of winter garments 2022/23 that will embody the heritage of the brand along whilst exploring new trends in design and colours and contributing to the garments’ sustainability.
We at VIST are visionaries, and stride for performance and functionality. With this, we hope to continue pushing our boundaries into the unknown, and simultaneously help our athletes make their mark in history.