- By Anne-Marie Smolski
Wellesley native Louis Joseph has an entrepreneurial spirit, and he is about to launch his new business, Alps & Meters, a clothing line for men, just in time for Black Friday.
Joseph, who is the CEO, said he chose the name of his company because he’s a big fan of alpine sports and wanted a name that would evoke the mountain atmosphere. He said that when people hear the world Alps it takes them to that environment - high mountains, beautiful snow, great hiking and skiing.
Joseph said that he and his partners also wanted a name that had a traditional ring. “The wordmeters has a double meaning,” he said. It refers to the height of the mountains and it’s the unit of measure for tailors when they are constructing, stitching and cutting garments.
For now, Joseph’s business will be online. However, Alps & Meters will have a presence at two winter season events: on Dec. 4 at North River Outfitter’s new store on Charles Street in Boston, and on Dec. 20 at Winterfell, a snow sport retailer located at Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vt.
When asked if he can envision having a freestanding store or stores in the future, Joseph said, “Absolutely. Definitely. We have big dreams.”
He calls his partners, Halle Grace, who is the chief operating officer, and Zari Sadri, the director of marketing, “two fantastic teammates.” Grace is a former director of merchandising at Coach, while Sadri is a former marketing manager at lululemon.
Joseph describes the Alps & Meters brand as “first-class performance outerwear.” The style is classic and traditional and the materials used are n natural – such as wool and full-grain leathers. However, he said that the company has married traditional materials with contemporary ones. The company’s signature piece, a shawl collar jacket, has a full waterproof membrane built into it, which Joseph said makes it “mountain ready.”
Although the first collection, Winter 2014, with a limited run, is for men, Alps & Meters expects to offer women’s garments in year two or three, Joseph said. The company’s first collection includes the Men’s Shawl Collar Jacket, the Classic Pom Hat and the Alpine Winter Collar.
A close friend of his, Elizabeth McGarry, one of the principals of MCGARRY&sons in Boston, is the company’s designer. Joseph worked with her husband when they both worked at Puma. He said that McGarry has designed for a number of brands, including Nike. “She is an expert,” Joseph said.
Joseph calls the Alps & Meters philosophy they’ve implemented to create their products as “forged performance,” fusing high- quality materials such as wool and full grain leathers with advanced contemporary technologies. The yarn that is used in the garments, for instance, has a nano coating that makes it water repellent. The classic garment construction paired with the use of contemporary technologies is different, Joseph said.
He describes the price point for Alps & Meters garments as “premium pricing, but not luxury.” Joseph said he thinks the individual who will respond to Alps & Meters is somebody who appreciates a first-class quality product designed for top-performance use, who also appreciates its appearance.
Joseph said he thinks his customers will be those who are well traveled. “They for sure have a love of alpine sport and an adventurous mindset, maybe perhaps for the jet-setting crowd that travels to different winter destinations from December to March.”
Joseph said he was interested in establishing this type of business because, “I’ve always been a big alpine enthusiast, a very passionate skier. I’ve skied in an old knitwear piece that I bought while on a ski adventure in Sweden. Wherever I’ve gone since that piece has been a conversation piece.”
Having worked as the Brand Manager for Running at New Balance, and up until three weeks ago, as the Global Director of Strategy and Innovation at Puma, Joseph, 40, said that over the years he’s learned a lot about products and the way they’re made.
As far as his personal collection of clothing goes, Joseph said he likes good things in small numbers. He said that he will buy something that is first of all unique that also has a story behind the product. “I’ve had a Paul Smith suit in my closet for 10 years,” he said. In summing up his taste in clothing he said that he buys pieces that have timeless and classic appeal.
Alps & Meters factory partner is Chii Shing Knitting & Textile Co. Ltd. in Taiwan. Joseph said his team did a lot of research and hoped to find a domestic source to produce this new forged performance product, but that proved difficult. He has traveled to Taiwan many times, he said, and is pleased with his unique factory partner that is an expert in sophisticated knitwear. “Alps & Meters is a brand that is built on relationships,” Joseph said.
A Wellesley High School, Class of 1992, graduate, Joseph went on to Lafayette College where he studied art and English, graduating in 1996. He pursued an MBA at Babson at night.
Married, Joseph currently lives in Boston’s South End. The son of Ted and Sandy Joseph of Wellesley, he has a twin brother, Paul (“PJ”). His other siblings, also twins, are Peter and Michael.
Joseph said he expects Alps & Meters to be live soon, the goal being Nov. 24. Visit atwww.alpsandmeters.com. The company is also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Joseph said, he’s always eager to interact with consumers, adding, “We’re a pretty social bunch.”