Altaika – a Wearable Work of Art
Our story begins at the end of the 1990s while walking on a snowy track in the Altai Mountains in Central Asia. The future Altaika team ran into locals wearing genuine hand-crafted sheepskin vests – the vests were daring, unique and one-of-a-kind as well as beautiful, rugged, and warm. In fact, they were works-of-art, lovingly made by skilled artisans of this semi-nomadic Indigenous people.
We called them “Altaika.” Why not? We were in the Altai Mountains. Altaika Vests were born.
We noticed that each Altaika vest was a spectacular work of artistry. They were stunning masterpieces – each vest proclaiming independence and autonomy with a touch of rebelliousness. We couldn’t believe that these outdoors people were walking around wearing beautiful works-of-art.
Each vest has a story. Each is a conversation piece, almost transcendental, especially when compared to modern outer gear, machine-made by robots in a lifeless and spiritless way. We wanted to bring to life a centuries-old tradition of authentic craftsmanship.
Because each vest is bursting with energy, singular and beyond one's dreams, we decided to give each one its own personal name, just like a painting. For example: “Pièce de Résistance,” “Bonfire of the Vanities” or “An Evening to Remember.” No two Altaika vests are alike, and they are stunningly rugged and hand-made by masters who’ve learned their trade over generations.
Sharing Mountain Masterpieces
Sharing Centuries of Tradition
On a hike in the most remote of remote regions on earth, we stumbled upon what we were looking for. It was fantastic! We wanted others to enjoy what we had discovered. Why not share a piece of this ancient artistry with lovers of tradition, the outdoors and freedom? We especially wanted to share the art of vest making as it was done so long ago. We wanted a network of people who understood and could show off their mountain treasure – an Altaika vest – while skiing in Davos, Switzerland, chopping wood in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, hiking the Scottish Highlands, or walking the dog around the home neighborhood.
We also knew that it was an item that would draw out the best in people.
People who understand exclusivity, uniqueness, and achievement own works-of-art. Such folks reject the “follow-the-leader” mentality – they are not lemming-like but hold dear to self-rule. That’s what also lies within each Altaika vest.
Freedom from the Herd Mentality – Exceptionality and Above Comparison
A little vanity is better than being just one more person in a huge crowd. A person who is a contrarian possesses the qualities reflected in an innovative work-of-art. We wanted to bring the art expressed by the peoples of the Central Asian mountains to friends everywhere.
In making vests, we also wanted to tap into the people’s heroism and awe-inspiring character. For one, they oppose any whiff of conformity and reject hierarchical structures of control and power. Altaika vests reflect the Altai people’s inner soul and audacity, at once defiant but trusting of outsiders.
Altaika vests make each person look and feel like they are above comparison, confident to the point of being indomitable and unshakable in the face of adversity.
An Astonishing Cornucopia of Imagination.
We noticed that each vest was complicated and chaotic. Wow – we thought – a bit like the bohemian in each of us. They were versatile and cozy but crazy and scruffy and wild with small imperfections in the stitching because they were made the old-fashioned way, namely sown together by hand, purposely eye-balled rather than assembled by automatons. The more captivating ones were stitched together with hundreds of different pieces of sheepskin – a spectacular “object d’art.” Amazing. In fact, no two Altaika vests are alike. There are no set patterns – like a disorganized mosaic of clashing patterns fitting together in a beautiful mosaic patchwork
No Automation or Perfection – Just the Real Thing
In today’s world of AI and machines, we notice that many people want nothing to do with artificial materials or artificiality that the modern world mechanistically offers. Altaika vests are authentic and unorthodox. They are unconventional and charming because they are the product of the artist’s imagination in a rough-and-tumble environment.
A Mind-Bending Treasure of Off-Beat Charm
With intricate unplanned patterns, Altaika vests are practical, flexible, handy, ecological, distinctive, irreplicable, off-beat with a rugged old-world look. One may think we’ve gone off the deep end, but why not walk around with a vest that is at once earthy, breathes freedom, and retains the scent of authentic leather – not the perfect and sanitized versions found in Parisian or Milanese high-end shops. Our hope is that Altaika vests will catch on without much of the phoniness that shapes specialty fashion today.
To be Contrarians is a Virtue – Ditch the Same Old Gear
So many people these days who love the outdoors buy the same old stuff. We figured it’s better to feel in harmony with others (as nomads of the past) than to sit around wearing factory made gear lacking feelings and grace. When snowmobiling or skiing, fishing, or gardening or riding a bike or just horsing around in the cold, why not be different and stand out with an Altaika vest? Who wouldn’t want to wear something that had personality, drew everyone’s attention, and captured the essence of nature and good old-fashioned living?
Take Altaika everywhere.
Our story is only beginning; we are eager to share our vision and gear with others. But remember that if you want a machine-made coat like the one everyone else in the world is wearing, you’ve come to the wrong website! If you don't want to stand above and beyond the crowd, that's fine. But if that's the case, try the mall!
Altaika – a Wearable Work of Art
Hand crafted exclusively from Central Asian sheepskin (unless noted otherwise). Each Altaika vest is a unique piece of art.