This is a blog or journal post close to my heart. We get asked so many questions. You can find some of the answers in our FAQs but I thought it would be fun to put together a little article highlighting some of the things we get asked about most. And of course, I'm always happy to talk about Winternational and the beautiful products we source and sell.
But if you still have a question or would like to know more about Winternational, then we would love to hear from you.
How did you start Winternational?
It started from vanity way way back. I couldn't find the ski wear I wanted to wear in the UK unless I went to London or shopped in resort. I saw beautiful ski wear in the shops in ski resorts and did a lot of window shopping or window drooling (that paints a pretty picture). The other place I saw beautiful outfits was in restaurants and bars and of course in the queues for the ski lift. Had a serious case of outfit envy once or twice I must admit. I felt I wanted to shop at home before getting to the ski resort. When I was in the mountains I wanted to be skiing, not shopping.
I thought if I felt like this, then maybe others would too. And that was my ah-hah! moment...and my eldest son came up with the name. Back then, internet shopping was not such a big thing so it was a big brave step to take. What I felt and still feel is that none of us have enough holiday time. We want to make the most of our time whilst we are away and that comes down to maximising every moment and enjoying your clothes and feeling good isn't shallow, it adds to your holiday.
I love helping our customers feel confident in their ski wear, knowing they are going to look good on the slopes, feel chic and stylish but also be warm and dry in long lasting clothes.
How do you choose the brands you sell?
We try to find the brands we think are doing a great job in designing and manufacturing lovely ski wear. Our collections include a range of looks from the sporty and casual, athleisure and luxurious, from ultra glam to chic, over the top to subtle, form fitting to downfilled. You name it, we are trying to include it.
The labels we work with have one thing in common. We'll have met them and talked with them. Learned about their heritage and brand beliefs and worked out ways we can be mutually supportive and most importantly, whether their styles and the performance of their styles will fit in with what our customers want. It's not enough that the ski wear looks amazing - it has to perform too. You can find out more on the technical details page on our website. One other important issue is the attitude of a brand to both the environment and their workforce. Increasingly brands are being judged on their environmental credentials as well as how they treat their staff. We try to partner with manufacturers and designers who have both the environment and their whole supply chain clearly mapped out.
Are you going to make your own ski wear label?
We get a few messages on this subject, and the big answer is not at this point in time.
There are some wonderful ski wear brands out there and we try to focus on is bringing these to you and showing them in the best way possible. It's pretty expensive to set up a new ski wear label too. Ski wear is very technical and it takes a larger company than we are to bring the best out of new fabric applications as well as constantly improving manufacturing techniques and adhering to all legal requirements plus producing in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
The foundation of Winternational is in beautiful designer ski wear showcased on our lovely and, we like to think, tranquil website. The team and I work hard on making sure that you can find us on the internet (no mean feat when there are tons of companies out there). It takes a lot of work choosing the gorgeous styles, shooting them and monitoring sales, costs, sizes and ad campaigns. Also we are constantly chatting with customers like you and helping you all to get the best out of your stunning ski wear.
Do you have a physical shop?
This is a question we are asked a lot, and no we don't. When I set up Winternational way back in 2006 I wanted to help every woman find luxurious and lovely ski wear wherever she lived. I felt that having a bricks and mortar store might be limiting and it is something I still feel. Note feel, rather than know!
We ship our beautiful designer ski wear all over the world and we couldn't have a shop in the right place geographically even in the UK where we are based.
You're all welcome to call or email with sizing or styling enquiries as we love helping in this way. The feedback we have is that our sizing guidelines are pretty accurate. Our in-house sizing knowledge is based on our own first-hand experiences with the garments. The team here is very small and close-knit and we all discuss sizing, customer reviews and our own views on our ski wear.
One other point is that we are the definition of a niche business and a seasonal one to boot. Whilst we are busy in the summer helping our customers who are heading off for southern hemisphere skiing, our work at this time often involves slightly less selling and more background preparation for the next winter. I worry that if we had a physical shop it would be very expensive to run in the summer and would not necessarily add to the number of customers we can help.
We might do some pop ups in the future...watch this space!
Do you stock men's ski wear?
The answer to this is no, sorry chaps. We've decided to focus on women's ski wear and concentrate on delivering the best products and the best product knowledge and displays that we can.
I wanted to create a luxury boutique feel to Winternational as that is the way I prefer to shop. Some people love big chain stores and although I love a visit to a huge department store (especially the perfume and beauty departments), I prefer to support small boutiques and businesses as much as I can. I know how hard they work...Winternational is one of them.
Do you hold pop ups?
Hopefully one day! It would be wonderful way to meet lovely customers like you in person.
Sorry to repeat this but we are a small team. From September to March we are flat out. The stock starts arriving in August and from then until November we are super busy with shoots, product launches and packing and shipping etc every day throughout the winter. To fit in pop ups too would be quite tricky but we won't say never to this exciting idea!
Which is your favourite ski resort?
This is a question I am happy to keep researching!
For now, I'd say that for learners and big family groups Meribel and the Trois Vallées is my go too place. For a quick weekend away I'd head to Chamonix, Morzine or Madonna di Campiglio. You can read up my journal on a long weekend I spent in Madonna. Groups of intermediate and expert skiers would find lots to do in Val d'Isere or Ischgl, but I'd also suggest heading to the Dolomites. The Sella Ronda with its circular route and fields of moguls is a dream. If it is luxury you are lusting after, then you should read about my trip to Morzine with the White Valley Company.
But watch this space...there's surely a resort I haven't been to yet that I will fall in love with.
How do you approach sustainability?
We are really aware of the impact commerce and clothing makes on our environment and that's why we aim to work with brands who are trying to reduce their impact in the manufacturing process. In house we're taking steps to ensure a carbon neutral position. Our packaging is recyclable and we're in the process of improving this so that it's made from sustainable sources only. Our shipping partner DHL has an amazing Go Green initiative that we are part of.
At the same time we're encouraging our customers to buy sensibly. Of course I run a commercial enterprise and we need to sell our products but we're doing our best to ensure that waste is not a feature of this fashion business. I take buying really seriously (it's a lot of number crunching!) and we source from small designers who produce collections to order. That way there is not a lot of clothing left to be discarded or sold at a vast discount.
And here ends my quick fire answers to some of the questions I'm asked most often. Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any other questions and I'll do my best to answer.
As you'll have guessed I love Winternational and helping women find their perfect ski wear is my passion.