DESCENTE HISTORY

Our founding spirit of Creation and Challenge
The evolution of sportswear technology
is the untold story behind the spectacular records
set by top-flight athletes in international competition.
For more than half a century,
Descente has been at the cutting
edge of this evolutionary process,
facing and overcoming countless challenges along the way.

ENTER

1930-1979
It All Began with Skiing
1935
Establishment of Ishimoto Shoten, a menswear company
A founder, Takeo Ishimoto
This company was the forerunner of Descente Ltd.
1953
Cream-Colored Baseball Uniforms
Descente successfully developed cream-colored baseball uniforms and training pants made from pre-shrunk cotton fabric with a woool-like nish. Capitalizing on a baseball boom, these items became hit products.
Descente Design Center
1954
The beginning of skiwear development
Kasuyoshi Nishimura
This was when Descente began serious development of skiwear products.
At this time, Kazuyoshi Nishimura, Japan’s first professional skier and a highly creative person who held strong views about skiwear, was invited to become an advisor to the company. Thus was begun a period of development based on trial and error of his ideas, and Descente became firmly established in the skiwear business.
This also marked the adoption of the “Summit Strategy", a core Descente marketing philosophy, to incorporate the ideas and experiences of leading athletes into product development.
Kazuyoshi Nishimura’s uncompromising standards of perfection were largely responsible for Descente’s unwavering commitment to making only the best quality products.
1957
Announcement of the RWSB Jacket
This was the name given to an all-new “portable” windbreaker utilizing the RWSB*2 characteristics. Made of nylon, and able to be folded away into a self-contained pouch, this was a truly revolutionary garment for its time. It can properly be called Descente’s first totally self-developed product.
*2 RWSB: An acronym formed from the first letter of the words Rain, Wind, Snow and Block. Pronounced “rausbee”.
RWSB Jacket
1961
The Descente trademark was registered, formally marking the birth of today’s Descente Ltd
The arrow logo represents the basic skiing techniques
“Descente” is a French word, meaning “downhill skiing”.
The Descente signature arrow logo – known as the “Spirit Mark” – represents the basic skiing techniques of “schuss”, “traverse” and “sideslip”. It symbolizes the bold spirit of Descente – always faithful to its grassroots manufacturing integrity, and constant quest for perfection and contemporary appeal. The form of the current Spirit Mark logo was adopted in 1968.
1970
The beginning of collaboration with two Swiss specialists in the field of aerodynamics, Hannes Keller and Hans Hess
As a result of this joint undertaking, Descente developed state of the art technology, incorporating extensive wind tunnel testing, to minimise surface wrinkling and unevenness – the main cause of wind resistance - and succeeded in developing the world’s first three-dimensionally cut downhill racing suit. This marked the beginning of the era of competition where victory margins are measured in 1/100ths of a second.
The development of 3D cut downhill racing suit
1972
Announcement of the Kiryu (Dazzling Flow) design
Kiryu Japan national team model
At this time, Descente was not only pursuing functional perfection: it was also taking its first steps into the world of fashion design. It commissioned Kazumasa Nagai, the creator of the official logo of the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, to create a new design for Descente skiwear. What he came up with was called Kiryu (literally “dazzling flow”). This design was the precursor of today’s well known “Action Line”.
1974
Announcement of the “Demopants” ski pants style
“Demopants” is a short form of “demonstrator pants”. These were a hugely successful product – they not only covered and kept snow out of skiboot-tops, but also flattered the Japanese physique by appearing to elongate the leg silhouette. Their popularity was enhanced by their overall warmth and freedom of movement, and the Demopants became synonymous with ski pants.
Demopants
1979
Announcement of the “Magic Suit”.
Magic suit
The Magic Suit was dramatic. It brought together with startling effect all of the earlier Descente developments in reducing wind resistance and maximizing freedom of movement and maneuverability through three dimensional design, strategic adjustment of fasteners and the like.
The performance-enhancing qualities of the Magic Suit were recognized by leading ski racers around the world and so powerful was its “magic” that many said they couldn’t win without it. In the long history of skiing, this was the first suit that could genuinely claim to contribute to the lowering of race times. The secret of this success lay in Decente’s superior development processes - combining painstaking design with clever cutting and sewing, and production of more sophisticated materials which minimized wind resistance while still managing to meet the FIS (International Ski Federation) standards for air permeability.
1980-1999
The Innovation-led Golden Age
1980
United States speed skater Eric Heiden achieved spectacular success wearing a Descente suit
Descente continued to apply the aerodynamic technology it had developed for downhill suits to other sports. At the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980, Descente produced a brilliant skating suit that incorporated the Magic Suit cutting technique (with all seams restricted to the back of the suit, thereby reducing wind resistance). By studying skaters’ posture to produce the suit design, Descente developed a speedskate suit that reduced wind resistance, enhanced power and mobility and ensured the appropriate amount of compression over the skater’s entire body. In this suit – which became known as the “Golden Suit” - Eric Heiden of the USA stunned the world by becoming the first Winter Olympic athlete to achieve a perfect score of five Gold Medals.
Eric Heiden (USA)
1983
Descente provided the specialist winter wear for the Japanese team that climbed Mt Everest
“Mountain Goat Party”
Descente participated in the planning and execution of a mid-winter attempt by two teams of Japanese climbers to scale Mt Everest from the south (Nepalese) side and the north (Chinese) side, to arrive simultaneously at the summit. The climbing groups, known as the “Mountain Goat Party” were led by Kazuyuki Takahashi and his wife, Michiko.
To protect the climbers from the extreme winter conditions at the top of Mt Everest, more than 8,000 metres high, where temperatures plunged to minus 50 deg. and jet stream wind speeds reached 60 metres per second, Descente had to apply all of its sports science knowledge and experience. The suits were made in bright fluorescent colors, in order to be highly visible to base camp personnel at all levels of the climb – adding an important safety dimension.
To maintain core body temperature in minus 50 deg. and provide maximum freedom of movement in extreme conditions, Descente created a one-piece suit filled with Polish White Goose Down – at the time the world’s best lightweight insulation material, which made it ultra-light as well as trapping the maximum amount of dead air* Because of its appearance, the suit became known as the “walking sleeping bag”, and it played an extremely important role in the success of the climbing project.
Knowledge gained in the development of this suit – in combining two or more different materials to achieve a particular purpose - led to multiple benefits for Descente in the subsequent development of other high performance sportswear products.
* Dead Air: The term given to a trapped, immobile layer of air within a garment. Trapping a layer of still air in a garment increases heat retention.
1986
Further cycling wear development. Koichi Nakano won his 10th consecutive World Cycling Championship
Descente’s success in developing high performance wear for cycling which, like skiing, demands maximum speed, was a direct by-product of the aerodynamic research undertaken for the development of the magic suit. In addition to Japan, the teams from Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the then Soviet Union, all adopted Descente cycling wear.
The development of Descente’s cycling wear also came about as a direct by-product of the aerodynamic “Magic Suit”. The development process which pushed skiwear technology to the limit through new fabrics, sewing techniques and three dimensional cutting based on aerodynamic principles, spun off revolutionary changes in the field of cycling wear.
Japan’s Koichi Nakano, who was world pro sprint cycling champion for ten years beginning in 1977 wore a cycling suit developed from the original Magic Suit created for skiing. With these revolutionary contributions to a diverse range of athletic pursuits Descente was suddenly a leader in high performance sportswear well beyond its original winter sports focus.
Koichi Nakano
1988
Announcement of the heat retaining Solar α jacket
Solar - α
Descente turned next to the development, in collaboration with Unitika Ltd., of a jacket using a new, highly efficient heat retaining material which became known as solar α, a “dream fabric” which absorbed solar rays and converted them into heat. Solar α turned all existing solutions for heat retention upside down. Keeping conventional garments warm relied on passive heat retention, preventing warmth generated inside the garment from escaping i.e. the more radiant heat that could be prevented from reaching the outside, the warmer the wearer stayed. In contrast, like a solar power system, Solar α generated heat in a positive way, actually converting light energy from the sun into heat, and moreover, storing that heat within its fibers.
1992
“A fusion of function and form”- A collaboration with Marithé + Francois Girbaud skiwear collection
The design philosophy of these leading French fashion designers – known internationally for their “intelligent garments” - was remarkably similar to that of Descente. It stemmed from the basic principle that clothing not only had to look attractive, but also needed to integrate with the wearer to provide a high degree of comfort and inner well-being. Working together, Descente and Marithé + Francois Girbaud produced the world’s first knitted ski wear featuring a new material made of densely knitted, super fine tricot. Because of its unique construction, the new material was extremely lightweight, and had excellent insulation qualities. Using this material, the designers produced a very creative silhouette, which was subsequently shown at the Paris Collections.
The world's first knitted ski wear, collaboration work with Marithé + Francois Girbaud
1996
Descente signed an official supplier contract with Speedskating Canada, to outfit the Canadian national speedskating teams.
Speed Skating Canada National team
At Sarajevo in 1984, after Descente began supplying Speed Skating Canada, Gaetan Boucher became the first Canadian winter athlete ever to win 2 golds and 1 bronze medal.
Wearing Descente suits, Speed Skating Canada athletes then went on to win 9 medals at Nagano in 1998. After a detailed study of the mechanics of skaters body movements, Descente developed unique pattern, with all seams on the back of the suit, helped reduce wind resistance. The cutting edge technology speed skating racing suit was developped always with the national team athletes to bring success to the team.
1998
Descente introduced the “Mobile Thermo” jacket – a wearable heating system resulting from the fusion of sportswear and electronics.
Working in close collaboration with leading electronics manufacturer Panasonic, the company created the “mobile thermo” coat, the world’s first clothing utilizing a catalytic heating system. It was hailed as mankind’s first experience with cold weather wear incorporating its own heating system. In order to gain acceptance, the coat had to be safe, lightweight and easy to wear. All of the company’s vast array of technical skills were brought to bear to ensure that all these points were met, and the “Mobile Thermo” coat came into being.
Mobile Thermo Jacket
1999
A safety vest for jockeys for JRA, Japan Racing Association
Extremely lightweight jockey vest
Again utilizing its technological skills gained from other sports, Descente produced an extremely lightweight, flexible, and comfortable vest with maximum air permeability to protect jockeys in the event of racetrack accidents involving falls from horses.
2000-2009
Locking in the High Tech / Design Heritage
2000
Introduction of the Titanium Thermo Jacket
The heat generation material, Titanium Thermo
Titanium Thermo was a specially processed titanium material incorporated into the jacket construction. It absorbed the infra-red rays emitted by the wearer, and trapped that heat inside the garment. It was both very warm and extremely lightweight.
2001
Development of ultra-light EKS Plus Thermo Jacket, using high tech “intelligent” fiber to control temperature changes within the garment.
This Descente original jacket incorporated EKS Plus Thermo, an ultra-light, high tech “intelligent” fiber which was able to control temperature changes within the garment.
The intelligent fiber, EKS+ Thermo
2002
Power of Design
Athlete's Genome by Eiko Ishioka
An adventurous collaboration between Descente and the Academy Award winning costume designer Eiko Ishioka, which saw Descente move to add a new dimension of artistic excitement to its cutting-edge sports science-based products. In what became known as the “athlete’s genome”, Ms Ishioka sought to impose a psychological dimension on to athletic performance – to heighten the sense of individual power for the wearer, and perhaps even to create some doubt in the minds of opponents.
2004
The introduction of the Kounoe Belt – a new addition to the Power Compo category
Descent worked with well-known sports trainer Hisao Kounoe to develop the Kounoe Belt, a support device which works to reduce pelvic irregularity and restore body balance and harmony in athletes. The underlying premise of the Kounoe Belt is that the body’s natural athletic potential can best be realized when the pelvis and associated joints are well-aligned and functioning correctly.
Kounoe Belt
2004
The development of the Forest Ranger protective wear
Forest Ranger
Consisting of a special multi-layered fabric combined with a thick layer of tough felt material, the Forest Ranger wear was designed to protect against chainsaw cut injuries.
2006
Development of the Cosmic Thermo Jacket using high tech insulation material
An extremely warm jacket which utilizes high tech insulation material originally developed for use in the United States space shuttle program.
Cosmic Thermo
2007
Release of new, high performance 3D Total Fit socks
Total Fit Socks
The 3D socks were specially designed to fit the Japanese foot perfectly. Providing high stability and grip, they wrapped the entire foot – from big toe, through arch and heel - in a unique three-dimensional knit construction to maintain comfort and minimize slippage.
2007
Sign a partnership with FIVB
Descente signed a contract with the International Volleyball Federation (FIBV) Swatch-FIBV Beach Volleyball World Tour to be an official clothing sponsor
SWATCH-FIVB BEACH VOLLEYBALL WORLD TOUR
2007
A new fireproof suit for professional firemen and firefighters
Fireproof suit
Descente developed a new fireproof suit for professional firemen and firefighters. While first priority was given to fireproofing and waterproofing, it was also designed to permit maximum freedom of movement to cope with extreme fire rescue situations.
2008
Release of the revolutionary Mizusawa Down Jacket.
In place of the traditional stitched, quilted down construction, the technicians at Descente’s Mizusawa factory came up with an entirely new thermal bonding process to produce this revolutionary line of jackets. This new process prevented down from escaping through sewn seams, and for the first time made possible a genuinely waterproof down jacket.
Mizusawa Down Jacket
2009
Announcement of Art-Flex inner wear
Art flex
Art-Flex is a seamless high function under garment which applies moderate controlled pressure to the wearer’s body. This pressure provides efficient support to an athlete’s body by delivering the pressure to the various parts of the body as necessary during sporting movement.
2010-2016
ALLTERRAIN Heralds a New Era
2010
“E-liner” Enegy support under-suit for ski and speedskating
E-Liner Energy Return compression wear
The E-liner is a one piece suit worn under competition clothing. It is designed to provide compression support for specific muscle groups in order to maximize the benefit of energy expenditure, reduce fatigue and maintain correct body posture. It was worn by several members of the Swiss alpine ski team and the Canadian speedskating and Ski Cross team at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
2011
ACXEL, a range of innovative support bands
AXCEL is a range of compression bands which aid the release of instantaneous performance power. This improvement is achieved by applying very firm pressure to the pinnate muscles and tendons in the leg that are associated with the delivery of power and reaction speed.
ACXEL
2011
Descente announces ALLTERRAIN, technology intensive capsure collection
ALLTERRAIN, Technology intensive capsure collection
This concept saw Descente, always best known for its dedicated pursuit of specific, high tech, cutting-edge sporting wear, move into a new and different field – designing a range of “function before form” clothing that allow the wearer to decide how and when they should be worn.
2011
Introduction of “Tough Polo” shirt range
Made of polyester, but with the natural feel of cotton, the tough polos retain their shape in the wash, resist fading, are stretchy, highly absorbent yet quick drying, and incorporate a high UP50+ ultra-ray blocking rating.
Tough-polo shirt
2012
"Genome" - high performance compression wear
"Genome" - high performance compression wear
Genome athletic tights are the result of a long and detailed study by Descente into long distance running. The functional elements are the strategically placed spiral power bands, reminiscent of the DNA helix, which act to help maintain body form and reduce the loss of leg “kick” power caused by fatigue.
2013
An ISPO Gold Medal for Descente’s ALLTERRAIN Transform Jacket
At ISPO, the world's largest sporting goods trade show, held every year in Munich, Descente's Teransform Jacket was awareded the gold medal in the Performance segement of the Lifestyle and Fashion categpry. This extremely prestigious award is based ib rigorous examination by a judging panel of 60 specialists from 13 countries on three continents, and goes to the garment deemed bast in concept, design and technology.
Descente ALLTERAIN Transform Jacket
2015
Annoucement of new pattern concept, S.I.O.
S.I.O. concept
S.I.O. is a brand new Descente "Minimum Pattern" process which combines front, back and sleeve patterns into one, significantly reducing the number of sewn seams and consequently improvingwind and waterproofing. It is strong, simple, minimalist design at its very best, with function over form dominating the long, painstaking process of development, and producing the specifications that deliver highest performance.
2016
More awards for Descente ALLTERRAIN
Since Descente's revolutionary Mizusawa Down Jacket made it on to the world stage in 2008, recognition for our ALLTERRAIN product line has continued to flow at ISPO. Once awagin two products that showcase Descente's unique 3D, seamless pattern cutting technology - the SIO seamless shirt and Mizusawa Down Pants- won cov awards.
Mizusawa Down Pants "Chrome", S.I.O. Seamless Shirt
Keep rising to the next challenge.
Descente is forever striving to become the brand
that can give all serious competitors everything
they ask for to ensure success in their chosen field.

HISTORY AGAIN