In the 1930’s there was a popular expression that went “ Bend zee knees, two dollar pleez”. At that time, Americans were discovering the joys of skiing while most instructors hailed from Europe and arrived to the USA well-equipped with charming yet heavy accents. As a means of transportation, skiing dates back about 5ooo years. But as a sport, it was born in Norway in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Keeping a close look on the fashion scene and peripheral area’s, nowadays, futuristic and elongated lines epitomize the modern era. Having been solely used for the slopes, decades upon decades, the revolutionary parka moved into the streets, influencing a new concept in winter dressing. The trend started by budget-conscious students who wore the perfectly adapted parka and filtered it into their casual lifestyle- off the slopes. Subsequently, fashion-minded youth soon followed their example as did the fashion designers. And voilà, modified outwear was born.
In France, Jean Charles de Castelbajac was one of the first designers to integrate the ski look into everyday fashion. In America, Perry Ellis was an early promoter of the parka (in a puffy down style) in the city look. By providing great warmth at a fraction of the coast of fur, the quilted look soon became a huge success. With growing competition from the fashion world, skiwear manufacturers fought to regain their market share within the non-skier market. These newly developed hybrid parkas were engineered to be ski-proof and street-proof.
The prime function of a good outerwear coat is to protect its wearer from the cold, wind, snow and rain. Coats have the additional function of proclaiming the style of the clothing concealed beneath it. The protective coat thus gives away a great deal about its wearer for the most part; unless he has deliberately chosen it to contrast with his outer clotting – which has become more and more apparent in the era of disruption and innovation.
Inspired by his brothers’ experience in the leather industry, Eran Elfassy founded Mackage in 1999. Two years later, Elisa Dahan joined him and, together, they developed one of the most prestigious contemporary outerwear brands worldwide.
Their mission was clear: to elevate outerwear with a unique balance between fashion and function. Mackage collections combine the finest leathers, down, and wool with tailored silhouettes and precision detail. They are a testament to the brand’s cornerstones of innovation, design and an unwavering commitment to outstanding quality: a philosophy that has fundamentally changed the outerwear game.
Reviewing the current collection, I noticed the ever more sophistication research on performance pushed technology beyond imagination! NIGHT FLIGHT is an homage to the on-the-go lifestyles where the city serves as both a point of departure and the ultimate destination. The collection features tomato, mandarin and turquoise accents – a nod to the twinkling lights seen from above (when the plane is about to land) – that energize the sophisticated neutrals for a collection that is made for active cosmopolitan life.
“Airports are like international cities filled with energy, fuel and movement. People are rushing and running to their gates, trying to go someplace far. We spend so much time in airports and in planes that we wanted to capture that energy of movement and speed by creating collection that is athletic, functional and elevated. Clothes that you can move in, run in, go places with.” Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan
URBAN SAFARI injects functionality with high-level fashion. Built-in pockets and technical details bring a utilitarian chic edge to the collection, while fuchsia accents and animal prints remind us that the city can be a jungle, and it’s always best to approach it with style.
“Because the city is a concrete jungle, we want you to feel ready for the action and adventure of your everyday life. This is our take on the classic Safari look, with utilitarian pockets and fastenings that make for practical and functional details and suggest an urban edge.” Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer and Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer about how they developed one of the most prestigious contemporary outerwear brands worldwide, how they use Nanodown technology, whose superior quality of down is coated with Texcote Nano treatment to increase the down jacket longevity and durability and about how they are creating disruptive moments to continue the always evolving conversation around Mackage!
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the history, and development of Mackage?
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Mackage was founded in 1999, and the name came from the improper pronunciation of “maquillage” (French for makeup) by Eran Elfassy’s niece. Inspired by his brothers’ experience in the leather industry, Eran Elfassy founded Mackage in 1999. Two years later, Elisa Dahan joined us and, together we developed one of the most prestigious contemporary outerwear brands worldwide. Our mission is clear: to elevate outerwear with a unique balance between fashion and function. Mackage collections combine the finest leathers, down, and wool with tailored silhouettes and precision detail. The product is a testament to the brand’s cornerstones of innovation, design and an unwavering commitment to outstanding quality: a philosophy that has fundamentally changed the outerwear game.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what is your competitive advantage in development of this specialized performance/ outerwear product.
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: We are a fashion – led function brand. Craftsmanship and detail are extremely important since the inception of the brand 20 years ago. We use Nanodown technology, whose superior quality of down is coated with Texcote Nano treatment to increase the down jacket longevity and durability. Additionally, Nanodown technology makes Mackage fluffier than its competitors and allows the jacket to be lightweight while maintaining high temperatures. Something unique to our outerwear is also the self-warming pockets, which has been enhanced with Thinsulate 3M which traps heat, while allowing moisture to escape. In addition to the superior functionality, Mackage has developed innovative design details, including double collars, detachable bibs, and leather details, which greatly enhance the jacket’s fashion sense. Strict requirements on the production process makes Mackage stand out with its outerwear quality and superior performance. All our pieces have been tested in laboratories and real Canadian winter.
Joseph DeAcetis: How do you intend to market to Millennial’s and Gen Z?
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: We are about creating disruptive moments to continue the always evolving conversation around Mackage. That is what we are striving to achieve with the Weather Station. We are about unleashing the brand’s creativity in order to connect. The Weather Station is one part of this plan as it is a traveling interactive cold room experience that allows us to connect with the culture and community of each city to which it will travel. We are also diversifying our product offering, which allows us to be more product focused when we are communicating with our customers and Gen Z.
The RAW POWER collection which is the collection available to try on before entering the cold room/The Weather Station, plays to the brand curiosity while using innovative technology in apparel construction. The bold colors and exaggerated shapes make for a vibrant, energetic and youthful look. We’ve played with the new logo in size and shape, emblazoning it across the yokes and sleeves of technical puffer jackets which add a graphic twist and play on the current 90s logo trend.
We also use our social channels to engage with our millennial and Gen Z market. As social media is an important part of their everyday life, we see this as an opportunity to speak directly to these audiences. We use these channels to share our new collections, exciting events happening within the company, as a shopping medium and to curate unique content. It’s a way to connect with them where they are most present and show who Mackage really is. It’s a way give them a behind the scenes look at what’s to come and create buzz to start that 1 on 1 conversation.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, what are men seeking today in Performance wear.
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: When men shop for performance wear, they are seeking a product that they can rely on when faced with extreme conditions, something that is functional, that has style and has them covered for the elements. All our outerwear qualifies as performance wear by this definition, and we would never spare the necessities of performance for style. We incorporate fashion into the design from its inception, but the price is not complete without extensive testing.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes in detail about the concept of The Weather Station and what does the strategy entail for a tour around the world?
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Mackage designs are crafted with the ultimate international cold room in mind, the concrete of city streets. For the NYC location, the intersection of the bustling corner of Houston and Lafayette was our cold room for the time of the event. The Weather Station is an artful reimagining of the meteorological hubs dotting the northern landscape. A space where you can find instruments including Mackage’s very own signature anemometer.
The installation featured a wind wall that welcomed guests with a playful photo opportunity while they wait to enter the Weather Station. Brand ambassadors guided participants through the experience and assisted them with their choice of brightly hued outerwear from our FW19 Raw Power collection before stepping into the Weather Station itself. We wanted to show that anyone can effortlessly endure arctic temperatures in the heart of the city without compromising style
Once inside, guests were exposed to an icy atmosphere accompanied by a stunning display of northern lights. Outfitted in a custom mirrored interior and light installation, it’s the perfect setting to snap a selfie. The city sounds fade away, the sub-zero elements will take center stage, and Mackage outerwear performs as it does best, surpassing the extreme conditions. Our plans for The Weather Station’s world tour is cross-continental, bringing our cold room to the most fashionable cities around the world. Stay tuned for details on where it will land next!
Joseph DeAcetis: If you could choose one celebrity to wear your brand, who would it be and why?
Eran Elfassy: Pharell Williams
Elisa Dahan: Jennifer Lopez
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how computer -aided design helped in the development of the fabrications and why this is important and part of your brand culture
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer Working through computer aided design gives us a 2 to 3D visual of the garment, helping us get as close to the final product as possible.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about the new creative branding strategy with the famous Fabien Baron.
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: This year has been focused a lot on our branding. We have been working tirelessly to modernize Mackage’s logo and aesthetic as part of a brand evolution. We believe that repetition is recognition, therefore it was important to redesign our new logo to express visually what we are trying to achieve.
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: We worked in a collaborative partnership with Fabien from Baron & Baron. The final logo result is a modern, sans serif font; a reflection of how we’ve matured since starting the brand 20 years ago. The “M” in the emblem was inspired by a fleur-de-lys, which is a nod to our French-Canadian heritage.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Around here at Mackage, every day is different and that’s what keeps it exciting! We are always challenging each other and our team to go a step further. Elisa and I like to be involved in all aspects of the business, of course our main focuses are design, marketing, retail and wholesale while overseeing the international development of the brand.
Joseph DeAcetis: Where is the product made and why?
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Manufacturing depends on where we will get the best factory for our products without compromising our craftsmanship. We pick the country we think is best to manufacture on technical know-how, fashion and function, China ranks highest on all the above. We have an entire production team permanently stationed in China to remain assured that our production process meets the highest standards. This way, we can also guarantee that every detail of our designs is realized to its full potential. Although the products are fabricated in China, the components of the jackets are sourced worldwide: Italy, Japan, Korea.
Joseph DeAcetis: Do you manufacture any part of the product line in the USA?
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: We do not.
Joseph DeAcetis: What have been your sustainable efforts with respect to production.
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Our take on sustainability comes in many different approaches. First and foremost, Mackage is a transparent company. This is translated not only through the product, but we hold responsibility and traceability within our supply chains. Enforced labour and trafficking is a concerning issue not only for our team, but globally. We have a strong awareness of this and take great care of where our collections are being produced, ensuring our product is developed at the highest level and standard through vendors we know and have built relationships. We have an office in China which we travel to several times a year, not only to build our collections, but to maintain close-knit relationships with our vendors and workers.
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: We are believers that sustainability is not only about respecting the planet, but also about respecting others. We achieve this through equitable wages, denial of forced or child labour, respecting the rights of our employees and ensuring the space is a safe environment. We maintain our integrity as a Canadian company, and we are proud to say to this.
We continuously strive towards becoming more and more of a sustainable pursuit by thinking long term about the contributors to the economic development of our fashion community. Our designs are a fusion of fashion and function, and we provide customers options to do more with less through multifunctional design, for example a vest and a coat which are detachable within one style. We design our core styles to be fashion yet timeless, and not based on fast fashion and producing in mass numbers.
Joseph DeAcetis: You have the floor: Talk to my viewers about why they should try this brand now?
Elisa Dahan, Co-Chief Creative Officer: Mackage has just emerged from a major brand evolution. Now is the most exciting time to try our product as it embodies more than ever all the design principles that keep it in your wardrobe rotation for years to come.
Starting with the release our FW19 collection, our international awareness is rising, and our brand is truly evolving into a global household name. We are your fashion options. We have something for every season, all temperatures, in every country, and as contrary to popular belief we are not just a cold weather brand. This year, we will continue to pave new avenues for Mackage with some exciting high-profile collaborations.
First up is our collaboration with Patriots star Julian Edelman! This men’s capsule is designed with an athlete’s form and function at top of mind, the collection is the embodiment of expert craftmanship and attention to detail that guide both Mackage and Edelman’s every move.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are your future projections and growth strategy for the next few years?
Eran Elfassy, Co-Chief Creative Officer: In the next 12 to 18 months, we plan to continue developing our retail footprint in key markets around the world, as well as extending our wholesale network of department stores within different countries. In fact, to further support our European expansion, we have recently opened a showroom in Paris. The Mackage e-commerce distribution has been extended to European consumers in order to expand our digital footprint, as well as strategic investments in media buy, both digital and out of home, to increase brand awareness in key markets.