Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Former professional free skier Hamish Acland has spent the last 15 years building high profile New Zealand outdoor clothing brand Mons Royale alongside his wife Hannah. QT Magazine spoke to him about life and work in Wānaka.

Describe your Wānaka lifestyle?

Best in the world with an amazing mix of people who choose to make Wānaka home. To give a snapshot – the other day Hannah, the kids and I rode to Aspiring Hut and met two of our team members on the track. One had just climbed to French Ridge Hut for the night with his wife, the other to Liverpool Hut with her friends. At Aspiring Hut we met other Wānaka families and all that’s literally in our backyard.

Favourite local ski slopes?

I am a big fan of night skiing at Coronet Peak and on the Wānaka side of the hill Treble Cone has, for me personally, the best freeride skiing.

What sparked the business idea for Mons Royale?

It was born from living out of my ski bag with limited space which made you truly value which items to carry. Back then base layer choices were merino wool, which while functional lacked style, or synthetic layers which instantly stank. My solution was designing a loose fitting base layer top with colours and graphics, much like a cotton tee, but made from merino wool making it perfect to wear both on and off the mountain.   

Describe the business ethos?

I was motivated to create a brand as a vehicle to help Kiwis go global which is deeply embedded in our business DNA. We’ve supported many New Zealand athletes on their international quest like Rotorua mountain biker Robin Goomes who was raw talent when Mons Royale first got behind her in 2021. She’s now the best in the world recently winning the first ever women’s slopestyle part of the Crankworx World Series. 

 What’s a typical day running Mons Royale?

As farm kids it’s in our blood to wake early with Hannah heading to the gym while I work before the kids wake. On Tuesdays we have a weekly all hands meeting with 32 staff in Wānaka, four in Squamish BC and another six in Innsbruck Austria so no two days are alike. Hannah is creative director and is currently working on refurbishing our Queenstown, Frankton Five Mile and Wānaka stores while I’m hosting our manufacturing partners from Shanghai.

What’s always in your pack?

Mons Royale boxers and base layer. Wool is a key advantage that actively regulates your temperature so it works when you’re boot packing up the mountain to find fresh snow or sitting on a cold chair lift getting blasted by freezing air.

When you’re not skiing you are..?

Mountain biking, hiking, camping and hitting the lake with the family. We often head to Hannah’s family farm in the Lindis Pass or occasionally to the coast to give surfing a crack and for Hannah to dive for some Kai Moana.

Favourite Wānaka places to socialise?

Our offices are just down the road from local brewery BSocial where they make it easy with long tables and good food. Kai is another café bar across the street from our retail store that’s a true Wānaka institution.

What’s on your bucket list?

For the business it’s finding great materials to scale up the impact of wool through some innovative constructions and natural fibre blends. Personally I would love to spend more time on the coast and improve my surfing.