Rhode Island may not be known for it’s big mountain scene, but that hasn’t stopped Owner Operator from creating a sought-after line of snow apparel from right here in the Ocean State. With its technical outerwear, luggage, and accessories, the brand packs some serious cool into its designs. Driven by classic lines and a 1970s aesthetic, Owner Operator’s wares might look like they came from a snow-covered time machine, but those throwback looks belie their technical capacity, which features all the functionality of modern gear.
Launched in 2008 by Steve Kimura and Pete Sieper, who grew up snow- and skateboarding in upstate New York, the brand was conceived as a way to recapture the style that inspired them as kids. But if you’ve never heard of Owner Operator, don’t be alarmed – the brand’s biggest market is in Japan, where they’ve had huge success, especially in Sapporo, famous for its epic snow.
Not headed to Sapporo anytime soon? Not to worry. While you won’t find Owner Operator from any RI retailers, the gear is available through their website and in their Pawtucket factory store. “We never intended to build a hard-to-find boutique brand,” says Steve, who moved operations from Boston to more affordable Pawtucket, RI in 2010 (Pete works primarily from New York and some pieces are manufactured there); consumer demand just drove it that way. “We dug in, and sought to create something cool,” says Steve, “and found a way to give back to and grow the scene we’d always loved.”