12 Feb Tracey Cottingham
Outdoors by design
Tracey has spent her life dreaming up innovative, wearable products to stay warm and alive in the rain forests and glacier-clad mountains of the Pacific Northwest. She calls herself a clothing architect, not only creating outdoor product, but connecting links between factories, brands, supply chain, clients and the outdoor human.
Much has changed with outdoor product design through these decades, but much has stayed the same. It still takes human hands and human skill to bend and curve pliable textiles together. Tracey loves solving problems through design and garment engineering, having worked at a young age as a piece rate machine operator, sample maker and pattern maker in Seattle, working her way through high school, university and European design school. A ski jacket factory at her high school helped with her career choice. Her competitive, athletic background led her to Nike in their early days.
Tracey has pioneered sport and outdoor clothing, working on the first Gore-Tex outerwear, in Seattle. She has advanced athletic clothing by adding Lycra and one piece running suits, while working as Phil Knight’s special force designer at Nike, creating the first specialized sport collections for Mary Decker Slaney, Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit, Michael Jordan, triathlon and biking collections. Working at Columbia Sportswear when there was no division of labor in the design and product development department. She always takes a long-range view of creating change with design.
As she looks back, these were exciting times, with few resources to build product with. Everything had to be created from scratch, including the sport itself. Product design was and still is, an adventure.
Tracey’s recent accomplishments include winning a design competition by Mammut for their 150th global anniversary celebration, designing visionary concept, designing the collection, and overseeing execution at the factory and on the mountain, including leading one of the 150 climbs around the world, retracing the route of the first documented climb of Mt. Baker, collaborating with the Lummi Nation, to summit.
We are outdoor designers, we are pioneers of design, it is a different way of thinking, explorers of the unexplored.