Winter is here. And with it comes frigid temperatures, shorter days, and here in the Pacific Northwest, the return of wet, rainy weather. Staying both warm and dry is always a challenge, and more often than not, means layering a thin waterproof coat over sweaters and other warm clothing. Not really that big of a deal, except that the aforementioned waterproof layer is generally a generic, unisex, sporty cover-up.
It was that static, brightly-coloured uniform that compelled Mia Melon owner Tanya Listwin to create a stylish alternative with the help of Nina Bucci, a Portland-based clothing designer. Inspired by the natural and cultural beauty of the West Coast, Mia Melon set out to combine the need to stay warm and dry with fashionable design, creating a line of outerwear for women who want options.
They key to Bucci’s design is fusing technical fabrics – something we love here in the Pacific Northwest – with forward design lines and function. While the outer layer is 100% cotton, it includes a 5000k/3000k membrane and is treated with a DWR (durable water repellant) finish that makes it both waterproof and windproof. It is then bonded with a 220-gram micro fleece inner shell, providing some much-needed warmth against the chilly air.
Take away the tech speak, and look at the coats, which stand up as stylish, functional outdoor apparel. This is most apparent with their latest design, The Commuter.
Listwin and Bucci spend a great deal of time in both Vancouver and Portland, which allowed them to recognize that women riding bikes needed an attractive outerwear option, which became the inspiration behind The Commuter. Taking elements of other successful Mia Melon styles, they designed a jacket that addresses the desire for elegance with some of the simple characteristics people on bikes need in cycling-specific clothing.
The key to a good winter cycling jacket is to stay warm, but avoid overheating. So it’s the little details that make it ideal riding apparel. The cuffs are designed to sit above the inside wrist, and yet extended on top of the hand to provide extra warmth while gripping handlebars, accented with reflective trim for added visibility. The hood, with ample room to fit over headwear, is detachable for those who want less bulk.
For those overheating moments, underarm zippers allow riders to cool down without taking off the coat completely. Even the length is ideal – long enough to cover the back while sitting on the saddle, but not so long that it restricts mobility.
It’s certainly refreshing to see waterproof outerwear for women that meet the needs of warmth and comfort without sacrificing style, something many have struggled with for years. But ladies are not alone is wanting something chic, which is where Mia Melon’s counterpart, One Man, comes into play.
Men appreciate fashionable clothing, too, even in outerwear, something Listwin succeeds at addressing with One Man. Using the same technical fabrics, she developed two options, the Stratus and the Wanderer, that pull inspiration from classic trench styles, but are practical for outdoor activities. While there isn’t a male version of the commuter yet, these two jackets are great options for all winter weather needs.
What we love about Mia Melon and One Man is that they identify that just because we live in the notoriously sporty Pacific Northwest, does not mean we can’t have fashionable options for practical outerwear. While we still cherish our classic wool coats as the “go tos” on dry days, knowing that there is an option for us that allows us to show up to work, meetings, nights out with friends both stylishly and dry is a welcome change.