[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]
 October 22, 1999

Spyder to use heat-absorbing material in newest outerwear

BOULDER — For the founder of Spyder Active Sports Inc., one of the top technical ski apparel brands in the country, the toughest market turned out to be his sons.

“It wasn’t until three or four years after I started Spyder that they would wear the brand,” Spyder President David Jacobs said.

Today, it’s safe to say the country is sold on Spyder. Spyder products are sold in 800 retail stores in the United States and 500 specialty retailers in Europe. The Jacobs’ offspring also have come around. Son Jake Jacobs is Spyder’s vice president of design. Billy Jacobs is the company’s sales representative for Northern California.

Of course, they weren’t ever actually against what’s turned out to be the No. 3 technical ski apparel brand in the country. In 1978 when their father started Spyder in Boulder as a mail-order business for a $90 sweater, they worked for 1 cent a flyer to stamp 7,000 mail pieces that advertised Spyder’s first product – a padded sweater – to ski racers.

But it took Jake and Billy a few years to wear the Spyder products.

Jacobs, a 1957 Canadian National Ski Champion, came to Colorado from Canada in 1969 as the vice president of Lange ski boot company. By 1972 the company had changed hands, and they parted ways.

“In 1972 I had four kids and an idea about children’s skiwear. There was nothing on the market.” He hired designers, started a company called Hot Gear and had the clothing manufactured in Hong Kong, “because I couldn’t get the detail I wanted here.”

Financial trouble led him to sell Hot Gear a few years later. By 1978, Jacobs said, he was recently divorced and broke. That’s when he decided to start Spyder.

“The kids said they wanted to wear what the Italian racers were wearing,” Jacobs said. They were teenagers by then. Jacobs said his sons were particularly interested in racing pants that had yellow pads around the thighs called spider pants because it made skier’s legs look like spider legs. It wasn’t the kind of clothing you could buy in America.

Until the Spyder company came along, you had buy it from the racers, Jacobs said. The sweater was the only product the first year. The second year the pants were designed and marketed. Spyder continued as a mail-order business until 1981.

In the rough years, Jacobs had to sell the brand to ski boot company Hanson for $75,000. He bought it back the next year for $50,000 with the help of a partnership and cash infusion from a Japanese manufacturer named Shimokubo (who has manufactured American skiwear for just about everyone in the United States, Jacobs said). In 1982, Jacobs incorporated the name Spyder Active Sports Inc.

Hates spiders

Jacobs named the company after an creature he hates.

“I hate spiders. I think of black widows, which you find in every basement in Colorado, as deadly,” he said. “To me, they are a terrify insect. Ominous. That’s why it fit.”

The name also fit because of the company’s link with professional racing and its interest in building a solid base of quality fabric. Spider, a sponsor of the U.S. Ski Team since 1989, produces skiwear to meet the needs of racers. Jacobs said the company researches new fabrics and tests them on elite racers. Spyder has a number of other firsts to its name, including being the first to introduce a women-specific race collection.

Spyder was the first skiwear company to use Thinsulate, a insulator that’s also used in sleeping bags.

Some of the company’s suit designs have been controversial. In 1997, the International Ski Federation banned Spyder’s SPEEDWYRE race suits. The suits had seams along strategic lengths of folds on legs and arms that were tested to reduce wind drag up to 40 percent. The federation said it gave racers an unfair advantage.

The future

For winter 1999, a material called ComforTemp provided by Spyder will be used in the outerwear of the U.S. ski team. The waxlike material absorbs, stores and releases heat, cooling the human body when it overheats or warming it when it tends to get cold. The material contains highly durable, micron-sized Thermasorb capsules.

Kathy Carroll, Spyder’s director of marketing, explained that the way it works is the skier generates heat when skiing that the material absorbs. At a set temperature, it stops absorbing the heat. When the skier begins to cool down, the heat is radiated back.

Carroll said ComforTemp will be sewn into the top of the suits’ thighs, in the seat, down the arms, on the cuffs, up the back of the arm, on the shoulders and over the torso.

She said it has to be used sparingly because it’s an expensive material. But with $18 million in domestic profits, a 20 percent gain from a year ago, Spyder can afford the good stuff. ComforTemp was developed by Frisby Technologies Inc. and also is used in thermal management solutions for the apparel, footwear, sporting goods, packaging, home furnishings, health-care, automotive, aerospace and electronics industries.

For spring 2000, Spyder plans to launch a water-sport/summer line for men and women, which will include wet suits.

BOULDER — For the founder of Spyder Active Sports Inc., one of the top technical ski apparel brands in the country, the toughest market turned out to be his sons.

“It wasn’t until three or four years after I started Spyder that they would wear the brand,” Spyder President David Jacobs said.

Today, it’s safe to say the country is sold on Spyder. Spyder products are sold in 800 retail stores in the United States and 500 specialty retailers in Europe. The Jacobs’ offspring also have come around. Son Jake Jacobs is Spyder’s vice president of design. Billy Jacobs is the…

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]

Related Content

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-interstitial zone="30"]