i.N.i. Cooperative: Old-school business meets new-school style
The first time I put on the Fieldworker pants and Fieldworker Jacket from i.N.i Cooperative, I noticed the fit. The jacket didn’t feel clunky and heavy like many I have tried before. Instead, it is light and soft with tons of mobility and a fitted feel. The Fieldworker is the first piece of outerwear I have worn that feels like streetwear. If I needed waterproof pants for everyday life, I would consider wearing them too.
With this being their first year, i.N.i has a lot of work ahead of them. One of the most difficult goals of any new company is to stand out among the competition — especially in this industry. With snowboarding being such an individualistic pastime, having a story and purpose behind the brand is almost as important as the products themselves — and i.N.i Cooperative is re-defining a purpose-driven business. In their first year of production, the folks at the Oregon-based technical garment company have dedicated themselves to several high standards.
After wearing the Fieldworker pants and Jacket in some of the deepest snow I have ridden all season, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the blend of recycled plastic bottles, hemp and organic cotton performed in the steep and deep. The wooly exterior texture would allow some snow to stick, but it appeared to be a non-issue since the material stayed dry.
With i.N.i’s recycled blend, their products are some of the most eco-friendly on the market, which also maintain the necessary technical aspects for shredding. i.N.i’s Managing Director Adam Shiffman explains:
“What sets i.N.i apart from the sea of other outerwear companies is our complete focus and dedication to the use of eco-fabrications and finishes across our entire product offering. We are not here to claim that we are 100 percent sustainable, but rather to introduce a new brand that is blending lifestyle and technicality with this environmental initiative.”
Watching the majority of industry companies contribute to waste and pollution didn’t sit well. i.N.i felt they had to take a stand and make a positive difference toward the environment. “Knowing and seeing first-hand the ways in which the textile industry can be harmful to the environment is all it took,” says Shiffman. “As snowboarders, skaters and surfers alike — everyone involved shares this personal connection to the environments that we depend on.”
As noble as eco-friendlier garments sound, without good designs, the products stay on the shelves. By bringing former Volcom designer, Abran Abeyta as their head of design, i.N.i outerwear is top-tier in form and function. And according to Shiffman, it is only going to get better.
The little details are immediately noticeable with both the Fieldworker pant and jacket. The jacket has multiple well-placed pockets and inner compartments that help manage the arsenal of gadgets and snacks to survive each day, while the exterior look is intelligently stylish. With the name i.N.i coming from the Rasta culture, I would have expected over-the-top yellow, green and red blasted all over. However, i.N.i takes the more subtle approach introducing Rasta colors in stitch patterns, thumbnail logos and the liner. I am a sucker for the little details, and to put it bluntly — i.N.i nailed it. I’ve received more compliments on the Fieldworker jacket and pants than anything I have previously owned.
Apparently being stylish while eco-friendly wasn’t a big enough challenge for i.N.i. The company has taken it one huge step further by refusing to undercut the retail shops that carry their product. Focused on ‘old school business,’ i.N.i forwards all online sales to one of their retailers. Also, their recent ad campaign features the names and logos of each shop that carries i.N.i. “By supporting local retailers we are really hoping to spearhead this movement back towards ‘old school business,’” Shiffman states. “We need to get back to the roots of snowboarding that is unfortunately getting left behind.”
After nearly a month riding in the i.N.i gear, it has been through late night city missions, waist deep pow days and some of the coldest weather northern Utah has to offer. And when it comes down to it, both the pants and jacket have performed to the highest degree.