February 11, 2021
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This year we're celebrating 30 years of category-defining fabric innovations with Featured Partner posts highlighting our collaboration histories with brands who've shared a first with us. This week we're excited to tell the story of Houdini's First Last Hoodie You'll Ever Need.

The First Last Hoodie You'll Ever Need


The story of Houdini Sportswear begins in the late 80s and early 90s when a lot of things we take for granted today in our industry just didn't exist yet. There weren't many women-led outdoor brands, mid-layers were bulky and decidedly technical, and breathability was still years away from buzzword status. Lotta Giornofelice launched Houdini to make the clothes she and her friends were missing for their high-intensity, start-stop activities.

Houdini slowly built a reputation for versatile and breathable garments by designing the clothes they wanted to wear without compromise. When Lotta first got her hands on our durable stretch fleece, Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro™, on a climbing trip in New Zealand, she saw an opportunity to apply the Houdini design philosophy to mid-layers unlike anything on the market at the time.

For Houdini, comfort's not just about how a garment feels when you're wearing it, it's the peace of mind knowing you're properly attired for whatever comes your way and the bond built over years of wear. They call it "Comfort Beyond Words" — the sum of the fit, the layering, knowing you have a piece you can rely on in the backcountry, that feeling you have when you fall in love at purchase and you stay in love for years to come. I think the Germans call it gestalt.

The Power Houdi was born of this design philosophy and Power Stretch Pro was the missing link that brought it all together. When you first throw it on, you know you're wearing something different, every detail considered just for you, for your next adventure, the trip to the bar afterwards, or the lounge after a long workday. There's a distinct feeling that you're wearing the last hoodie you'll ever need, and dammit that's what Houdini's done.

Design without Compromise


In a recent chat, Houdini CEO Eva Karlsson explained how the brand's founding design philosophy was informed by her, Lotta, and their friend's lifestyles in Stockholm, where nature is always just around the corner. The seamless interplay between culture, work, and play, urban environments and nature demanded clothing that worked everywhere. "... For us that makes sense in life," Eva says, "having a small wardrobe that creates opportunities rather than limitations."

Power Stretch Pro's modern look and durable construction provided the perfect solution for a mid-layer that performed as hard as it steezed. The 2003 release of the first Power Houdi marks the moment the "premium hoodie" became a thing. Its slim profile, fashionable lines, and sturdy construction took the lowly hoodie out of the gym and into the streets. 17 years and 200+ colorways later, the now-iconic Power Houdi is still made with Power Stretch Pro in the original design.


Sketch horiz

We asked Eva what continues to set the Power Houdi apart after all these years. Her answer adds an important dimension to how Houdini achieves Comfort Beyond Words: "We design without compromise… When we design any product, I think the Power Houdi is a good example of this, we don't look at the market and say 'Where's the gap in the market and what's the price point we should hit to fill that gap?' We look at the product we want for ourselves, that we're craving for, that we envision, and then we go — without compromise — towards that product."

Built to Last

And it's true, Power Stretch Pro is a premium Contouring Fleece with unparalleled abrasion resistance, 4-way stretch, and shape retention. Its unchallenged status as the "Power" in Power Houdi epitomizes Houdini's refusal to cut corners, but this shouldn't be taken as obstinance. No other fabric would last as long, ultimately adding value and reducing waste — the polar opposite of "fast fashion."

Lifespan horiz

In fact, Houdini did a study last year on the number of times their customers were wearing their Power Houdis. They found that the average Power Houdi is worn 1,287 times over its lifespan, compared to the western world average of 7-10 times for a single garment.

During our conversation Eva took stock of her outfit. "... I'm wearing a piece today that I've been wearing for, I guess, 15 years? And the tights I'm wearing — Power Stretch tights — I've been wearing for 20 years plus and they're still going strong."

This gave her a moment to reflect on the current state of our industry. "We started out creating tools for an active life, tools that you can rely on and now, if you look at the huge spectrum in the Outdoor industry, it's much more like we've been mimicking fashion and forgetting about the possibility to create magnificent products."

That's why Houdini still approaches product design with the intention that each piece is a tool, built to last in style and quality.

Comfort Beyond Words

Carl Jacket

As a parting case in point, we offer you the story of Carl Lundberg, a mountain guide who received one of the first Power Houdis ever made. Through 10 years of the most extensive prototype test of all time, Carl skied Japan, beach-camped Hawaii, scaled mountains in California and vertical rock walls in Norway in his Power Houdi. Meanwhile Houdini was adding more recycled fibers and countless color options to each year's release, ensuring the Power Houdi comes in your favorite hue — further building your connection with the last hoodie you'll ever need.

Power Air

We share Houdini's buy-it-once, wear-it-forever ethos because it's how our industry must approach design and development for a more sustainable future. That's why we worked with Houdini to realize the Power Houdi's spiritual successor: the fully circular Mono Air Houdi launched just last year, made with Polartec® Power Air™ fleece that's knit from even more recycled content and uniquely constructed to reduce microfiber shedding by 80%.

We look forward to continuing to work with Houdini to explore design more in harmony with nature and changing our industry for the better in the process.

Live from Then Vol. 2…

As part of our year-long celebration of 30 years partnering with innovative Outdoor brands, we're releasing "music posters" inspired by some of our favorite bands.

Houdini Poster 1
Houdini Poster 2
Houdini Poster 3

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