by Frank V. Persall
If you’re into skiing, you will know that one of the most important things to think about before hitting the slopes is what you’re going to wear. As with any sport, there are leaders in terms of ski clothing; Helly Hansen, Arc’teryx, Smartwool, and many more. But the question on everybody’s lips is what happened to Roffe ski wear?
You might have been familiar with this brand if you were skiing in the 70s and 80s when it was at the peak of its reign. However, in recent times, Roffe ski wear doesn’t seem to be as readily available. Well, the company is alive and well and still producing some of the world’s most excellent ski wear. But sadly, the vision of founder, Sam Roffe, may not be being lived out after his death.
To understand what happened to Roffe ski wear, we must go back a few years, and who better to help us do that than one of the company’s most loyal and long-serving employees?
Back in the day, when Sam Roffe created his beloved ski brand in Seattle, the company was a thriving American business. However, when Roffe sadly passed away back in the mid-90s, the company was left in the capable hands of his son, Robert.
According to one of the company’s most loyal employees, Don Mixon, Roffe was an excellent employer and a pretty decent human to boot. At the time of his death, Sam Roffe oversaw more than 200 employees in the ski wear factory but things were about to go downhill.
If you want to get your hands on some Roffe ski wear then this is still possible, even though a Google search will yield far fewer shopping results than you might have expected. The good news is that there are a lot of eBay sellers with some pretty impressive vintage Roffe apparel that, while a little pricey, certainly holds a lot of nostalgic value for many skiers.
Sam Roffe was born in 1909 and worked hard on his company well into his eighties. His passion was in creating ski apparel and this was demonstrated in the brand’s longevity. Having been created in 1953, Roffe ski wear thrived until being bought out in 1996.
But what is quite incredible is that Mr. Roffe had never laid even so much as his little toe on the slopes! His true passion was breeding horses, which couldn’t be any further from skiing. But of course, we are thrilled that he left a legacy of some of the most sought-after vintage ski wear in the industry.
This passion for fashion began as Roffe spent more than 20 years at the Seattle Woolen company where he worked as a cutter. Having been in the textiles business for so long, it only made sense that he would take a break and go it alone. Initially, Roffe was dedicated to crafting uniforms and it wasn’t until a request for stretch ski pants came in a few years down the line that Sam saw the potential for sales in this niche.
Owing to the quality and craftsmanship that went into each and every item produced at the Roffe factory, the brand quickly gained momentum. Over the course of its life, various celebrities have been seen sporting Roffe and the company was even asked to dress the US Olympic team in 1960.
While Roffe ski wear may no longer exist, owing to the company being bought out by The Gerry Group after the death of its founder, Sam Roffe, it is still possible to get your hands on some Roffe pieces. Despite the demise of the brand, Roffe left behind a legacy not to be sniffed at.
Whether you are in the market for some vintage Roffe wear or just want to know a little more about skiing, there is a lot to learn, so make sure that you stay up to date with all the latest ski news and tips.
About Frank V. Persall
Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.