A collaborative project working to build the most functional, innovative, sustainable, and durable fly fishing apparel.

 

SY Design has worked together with the incredible people who are part of the fly fishing team at Patagonia since 2012.   It took a hearty six month process of making sure that we could not only design to meet their exacting standards, but  also needed to cast accurately to 40 feet and fly fish alongside Yvon Chouinard himself.  We worked together with guides, retailers, and the team at Patagonia to help launch their women's fly fishing line.  As part of that process we created the Women's Spring River fishing waders, and a small assortment of technical fishing gear that continues to evolve each season.  The products are user driven and we constantly solicit feedback from the field.  Life is work, work is life, it's a good thing.

 

Sometimes building product is a story in itself.

In 2012 when I met with the Patagonia team for the first time, it was on the river in Idaho during one of their Fish Dealer Camps.  It was my first time to meet Yvon Chouinard, and I knew I would have to fly fish with him as well.  No pressure at all.  Sometimes things just magically come together and that is the best way I can describe what happened on that trip.  Late in the afternoon Yvon came over to me and asked if I would come down to the river with him to try out his Tenkara rod.  Tenkara was brand new to me and I was both eager and nervous to give it a try.  

Wearing a skirt over jeans and some barefoot shoes, I headed with him through the brush down to the river.  He immediately climbed over the large rocks in what appeared to be my first test, there was no way he was going to lose me at the rocks!  When we arrived at the river it was windy, the light was flat, and the water didn't really look that great for fishing.  He insisted that Tenkara was so easy I'd be sure to catch something in a matter of minutes.  He has his own way of tying on the fly and dropper, that I now know many won't use because it's prone to tangling until you get the hang of it.  It would have been helpful to know that up front.  After only a couple of casts, nervous as hell, I get the largest birds nest known to mankind in his line.  The two flies appear to have had an epic battle with each other and I am resigning myself to the fact that this is likely my first and last meeting with Patagonia.  Yvon calmly walks away, sitting off in the distance acting as if nothing happened.  Meanwhile I go to work trying frantically to untangle the snarly mess.  It could have been two minutes or ten, I lost all track of time, I was sweating, swearing and hoping to hell that I could get them untangled without having to cut off the whole set up.  Then, nearly miraculously, they were once again untangled, playing nice with each other, and ready to be casted into the river again.  Whew!

Shortly afterwards, he came back over and indicated we should head upriver to another spot that he knew.  We jumped a fence and then he had me cast just above where had crossed and let it drift down, suddenly the planets aligned and I felt a tug!  It wasn't just a tug but it was a good sized Rainbow Trout and it took off downriver below the fence line that we had just climbed over.  If you haven't tried Tenkara, there is no reel, just a fixed amount of line.  In order to land a larger fish you have to move with it until it calms enough to hand-over-hand it into shore.  I looked at him and the fence and asked, "what should I do?"  He told me that I had better jump that fence so I didn't break off his rod!  In my skirt and my barefoot shoes with the rod in hand and the fish on, I flew over that fence so fast (he said, "like a rodeo clown!") determined not to break his rod and to land that fish!  The light was so flat that I couldn't see the line to grab it, so I placed the rod behind me on the ground and accidentally collapsed it one segment at a time until I could reach the line.  Upon seeing that Yvon said, "Wow, that was brilliant!  I've never done that before."  Well, me neither, but it worked I landed that fish, and that client!  


In the past, it seemed that manufacturers would patronize women anglers with a woman’s product only to cut out the technicality, as if women wanted cute and not functional. Patagonia seems to get us with these waders. Not only do they fit a woman’s body well, they even have what I call “gather elastic” around the top of the waders that I can actually pull to fit around my chest. There are fleece lined pockets, which are a must-have in my book. The waist-mounted suspenders convert from chest to waist high with ease. But, my absolute favorite add-on feature of these waders, and the one feature that gives women an “A-HA” moment all over the globe – the suspender clip at the back which allows your suspenders to stay up around your neck while you drop your drawers to pee. Yes, you read that right! If you’ve ever tried to pee with waders on (either in a bathroom or out au naturel), you will definitely appreciate the thought that went into this little feature. Let’s just say – no more peeing on your waders or your suspenders, and no more odd stance where you try to hold your waders down and your straps out of the way. HELLS YEAH.
— Dun Magazine, 2.20.2015

Patagonia fly fishing ambassadors April Vokey and Millie Paini talk about the best features of the new Women's Spring River Waders and the River Salt Jacket -- the keystone pieces of the new women's fishing collection.

SY Design worked together with the team at Under Armour in Maryland to design a technical bow hunting collection.  We have hunting experience but were not bow hunters, so we gathered feedback from hard core users, and spent some time at the archery range shooting bows in outerwear to get a better feel for what features the jackets might need.  Whenever we design for anything where we are not avid users we spend a lot more time on the research phase, diving deep into details and minutia to attempt to better get inside the heads of people who are using the products daily.  We are often inspired to become users through our design projects.

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Men's and Women's Creative Direction, Color Palette, and Design.

Working together with the team at RIDE Snowboards we provided in-depth creative direction for their entire design team, a full color palette, graphic + print direction, as well as design for several key styles.

 

GRAPHIC AND PRINT DIRECTION

RIDE had a small team when they contacted us, so as part of this project we also provided graphic arts direction for the categories that we designed for.  In addition, we also provided some custom graphic art direction for all-over prints and patterns too.

Concept Sketch Delivered to RIDE team for the Women's CHERRY JACKET shown below.

Concept Sketch Delivered to RIDE team for the Women's CHERRY JACKET shown below.

RIDE WOMEN'S CHERRY JACKET, Designed by SY Design

RIDE WOMEN'S CHERRY JACKET, Designed by SY Design

RIDE WOMEN'S BRYANT JACKET, Designed by SY Design

RIDE WOMEN'S BRYANT JACKET, Designed by SY Design

Building innovative workwear for one of the best tool companies in the world.

We began working with Milwaukee Tool in 2013, they reached out to us to see if we could help them construct heated workwear that was compatible with the M12 batteries that also are used in their power tools.  It was our first time working with electronics, this required deconstructing their samples, and a discovery process with their team to troubleshoot how we could improve not only the design, but also the function as well.  This has resulted in innovative new pieces launching them into the soft goods market, a fast growing and successful new category at Milwaukee Tool created by SY Design.

 

PURPOSE DRIVEN DESIGN IS OUR STRENGTH

We spent a lot of time doing research together with the Milwaukee team learning in-depth about the specific needs for different types of trades, studying the competitive landscape, and utilizing our skills as innovative technical outdoor designers to bring new ideas into the workwear space.  We are involved through the entire design and development process on this project.  We started with concepts, moving to designs, tech packages, building prototypes and patterns, fitting, managing fabric and trim development, and working in coordination with their team until we were ready to hand-off a complete production ready package, with a fit approved prototype, a full tech package, and all fabrics and trims fully approved and ready for production.

M12™ Heated Gear™ and a new line of Work Gear™ created by SY Design for Milwaukee Tool.

Men's Bomber Jacket 

The first concept sketches for this style are shown above, after a small amount of refining and adjusting to meet the clients needs we moved into the tech package, and from there pattern making and prototyping.  At the very bottom you can see the final finished product and how close it resembles the very first concept sketch.

A small portion of the tech package for building out the Men's Bomber Jacket.

A small portion of the tech package for building out the Men's Bomber Jacket.

The final production Bomber Jacket.

The final production Bomber Jacket.

Creating a New Category of Positive Buoyancy Extreme Fishing Apparel. 

We began our work with the team at Stormr in 2012, a subsidiary of Henderson Aquatic, they had a long history working with neoprene in the diving market, and wanted to explore the idea of creating a fishing suit made of neoprene for extreme conditions like Commercial and Striper Bass Fishing off of the coastline.  These conditions often put the user in cold and stormy weather and there were inherent risks with falling in and getting hypothermia.  We had not yet worked with Neoprene but studied the construction methods and learned from the Henderson team more about how we might be able to help them.  This resulted in the launching of their first piece the Typhoon, followed soon after by the Stryker.

 

The STryker Jacket and Bib have launched a new category of performance fishing gear that continues to grow.

These pieces were a first of their kind product that has been tested to provide both positive buoyancy and increased body temperatures when the wearer is accidentally submerged.  They continue to grow and expand from the these first products that we helped them to launch.

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Creating Performance Outerwear for your Outdoor Lifestyle.

We've been working with the Patagonia fish team since 2013, but 2017 was the first opportunity for us to join together with the dynamic people involved with working on the Men's and Women's lifestyle lines.  Based on their vision and direction we created some new lifestyle based performance outerwear that we were excited to finally have the chance to share with you.

 
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Patagonia Crankset Jacket and vest

This style began as a series of conceptual pencil sketches before moving into a final black and white line drawing, and then into an official tech package format with all construction details.  It's always exciting to see when the sketch that is sent off from our desk ends up looking like what we see on the store floor 18 months later, we see it as a sign that we did our job correctly. Often once we hand the tech package at the concept stage we never get to see or touch it again.  This is why we passionately believe in building detailed tech packages to convey our design ideas and intent clearly, when you only have one chance you have to pour yourself into it.

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Patagonia Women's Meriweather Hoody

Working with the women's lifestyle team allowed me the opportunity to design pieces that I might wear myself.  When I receive a design brief I often like to explore concepts a little outside the comfort zone at the pencil stage, just in case it might get accepted!   This is sampling of the pencil sketches and the final jacket sketch and how it looks in final out at retail.

 

Drawing in pencil allows a freedom of concept exploration that is hard to replicate in the computer.  We thrive on that freedom and enjoy the chance to explore some of our wilder ideas together with hitting the actual target too.  

This rounds out the rest of the styles we created for the Men's and Women's lifestyle team for Spring 2017.