Clothing label Mons Royale has been making striking base layers for the adventurous at heart since 2009.
Founded in Wānaka by husband-and-wife team Hamish and Hannah Acland, the transitional merino pieces are available across the globe including in Australia, Europe and North America. They’re made to be worn on the slopes and, as of recent years, on the mountain bike trails – and transition well for a bite post-ride.
The latest autumn/winter 2023 collection features trippy prints in stand-out colour combinations. “Hannah [the creative director] and her team went to Aoraki Mount Cook – New Zealand’s tallest mountain – on an inspiration trip, so a lot of the stories come from that,” Hamish tells Broadsheet.
The Blazing Trails print features swirls of walnut brown and lilac and was inspired by pioneering women such as Freda du Faur, the first woman to summit Mount Cook in 1910, and Lydia Bradey, who was the first to climb Mount Everest without oxygen in 1988. There’s also a bold, monochromatic warped checkers print and the Aoraki Lily print, which features a black floral motif against a forest-green base.
When the idea for Mons Royale first came about, Hamish – an ex-professional skier – says there were limited options on the market: labels making performance pieces using oil-based synthetics, or labels taking a sustainably minded approach using natural fibres like merino wool. “However, those [latter] brands were typically boring, had a muted colour palette and just didn’t really connect with the energy of the sport I really knew,” he says.
“As I was travelling and living out of my ski bag, I saw that as an opportunity to replace both a cotton lifestyle T-shirt and a synthetic performance tee with one that was merino wool, that [captured] the energy, and was also better for the planet.”
So that’s where it started – a collection of relaxed-fit merino tops, bottoms and undergarments with a difference. “It was really bold colours. It had graphics. It did all of those things that a base layer was not meant to look like,” says Hamish. “That's what we did and fans gravitated to it.”
Mons Royale has also made a point of having a feminine edge, with its women-led designs that stand out in an industry that tends to be either gender-neutral or geared towards men.
Mons Royale teams up with pro athletes, too, “because they’re the key drivers of culture in action sports,” Hamish says. That includes snowboarder and two-time Olympic gold medallist Jamie Anderson, and Kiwi-raised mountain biker Casey Brown.
Unless you’re a skier or mountain biker, you’d be forgiven for not knowing the label until now. Tapping into Hamish's professional connections from his time on the slopes, Mons Royale’s first two bricks-and-mortar stockists were in Switzerland: a store in Zurich and a ski resort in Laax. “That was really pivotal because it made us global from day one,” he says. “From there, that blew out to three or four countries in year two.”
Today, Mons Royale is stocked in more than 1000 stores worldwide with around 80 per cent of its business in the northern hemisphere. Hamish says its biggest fans are in Austria and Whistler (where its second and third offices are), as well as Switzerland.
Mons Royale currently has two Aotearoa stores – one in Queenstown (a few doors down from legendary burger joint Fergburger), and one in Christchurch. This is about to grow, with another New Zealand store set to open later in the year.