Colmar celebrates 100 years maintaining design and innovation as its identity


The Italian sports equipment company Colmar, based in Monza, celebrates 100 years of history, maintaining design and innovation as hallmarks of a brand steeped in history, which continues to be a reference in mountain clothing and has been updated to adapt to the urban lifestyle.

This century is loaded with dozens of stories of families, intuitions, work and visions mixed with hands that sew, that invent putting the wrong fabric in the right place and use irons as if they were wind tunnels in which to accelerate particles.

The story has been written since October 31, 1923 in Monza, on the outskirts of Milan and one of the most important manufacturing districts in Europe for the production of wool hats. After getting married, Mario and Irma Colombo decided to open a small hat company and began using defective wool felt cones to produce gaiters.

The name Colmar was born almost by chance, from the name Mario and the surname Colombo, and soon became a recognizable and distinctive sign of his career. In the 1930s, Colmar became a company manufacturing mainly cotton overalls for factory workers and gas station employees.

It was also in those years when the meeting took place with the first athlete to cross the history of Colmar, the skier Leo Gasperl, an Austrian nationalized Italian, record holder in speed skiing in 1932 and precursor of the parallel skiing technique. He would later be the ski teacher of personalities such as Anita Ekberg or Vittorio Gassman.

For it, Colmar studied the futuristic Thirring, a kind of canvas coat that billowed out to give it the appearance of a bat. It is the beginning of what remains a distinctive feature of the company: the continuous connection with the athletes and alpine ski champions of the moment to create products with the best features.

This is what happens with the ‘Olimpionica’, the first anorak that uses poplin and designed specifically for sport, but it is the Guaina Colò that definitively marks a moment of transition. After a period in which the company also found itself producing safari jackets for the Foreign Legion, thanks to a family friend, the company entered into a relationship that would last almost 50 years, until 1992, with the Italian Sports Federation. Winter (FISI).


In the 1950s, Irma was left alone with her children after Mario’s premature death and met the second champion who would change the history of the company. Zeno Colò is the first Italian to win the downhill event at the World Championships and also the first world champion in history in giant slalom, a discipline that was introduced in that same event, in 1950 in Aspen.

Zeno expressed the need to wear a garment with greater performance than the jacket used until then, and then Irma had the intuition to use one of the first elastic fabrics, until then used for women’s bellies and corsets, sewing it to the sides of the jacket and in fact inventing the perfectly fitted and aerodynamic Guaina Colò.

At the end of the fifties, Colmar also became a distributor of important brands such as Mizuno, Adidas and Lacoste.

In the seventies, the suits were tested in the wind tunnels of Fiat and Moto Guzzi and the fibers came from research at the Milan Polytechnic. The legendary ‘Ceffa’ is born, the giant slalom jacket, whose aesthetic and technical characteristics will enter the history of the company and will become the symbol of the Valanga Azzurra.

Colmar also expanded as a family: Angelo and Giancarlo married and had children, so in 1972 the current president, Mario Colombo, joined the company.

The third generation saw the birth of a new phenomenon, the rising star of Italian skiing, Alberto Tomba. At the same time, Debora Compagnoni becomes one of the Italian skiers with the most victories, sixteen of them in the World Cup. Thanks to them, Colmar acquired international visibility that opened new markets and possibilities.

In those years, several iconic garments were created such as the ‘Bormio’ jacket; In the nineties ‘Tecnologic’ arrived and the logo was changed, from the seal to the letters accompanied by a stylized snowflake with the slogan ‘In case of snow’, as well as futuristic campaigns were launched with skiers on pyramids and skyscrapers along with sponsorship of ski races.

In 2011, collaboration began with the Croatian Ski Federation and with Ivica Kostelic, who won everything that year, including the World Cup. After the Croatian, Colmar is joined by the French Ski Federation, with which it won the second World Cup in 2021 thanks to Alexis Pinturault, and the Slovenian Federation.

In the 2000s, technical clothing was already part of everyone’s daily routine, and in 2009 Colmar inaugurated the Originals line, which interprets the company’s experience and culture in an urban and lifestyle key.

The Colmar Originals brand has also seen important collaborations emerge in recent years, with the Vogue Talent school, the pop artist Van Orton; Shayne Oliver, the creative director of Hood by Air, a New York brand inspired by ballroom culture and the first project to combine music, streetwear and luxury, and in 2019, he turns to Yusuke Aizawa, creative director of the White brand Mountaineering, which has become a legend for working in a mix of outdoor and luxury.

In 2020, the third collaboration is presented with Morteza Vaseghi, who together with Elise By Olsen is co-founder of the magazines Recens and Wallet, to combine literature and sport.

Meanwhile, the fourth generation begins to enter the company with Stefano Colombo, Roberta Colombo and Riccardo Vago, children of Mario, Giulio and Laura, and sustainability becomes an important axis for hiring foreign suppliers and subcontractors.

Among the options that the company’s sensitivity towards sustainability has focused on are Eco-Elite Teflon, Thermosoft wadding and graphene, to name just a few.

In this way, the design, which is carried out entirely at the Monza headquarters, remains at the center of each activity and the product, its technological and aesthetic characteristics, continue to transmit the history and culture of the company. Exactly like in the times of Mario and Irma.