KÜHL® began as Alfwear in 1983 with the Alf hat, a Peruvian-inspired design that many ski bums equipped themselves with in the mid-80s. Updating it with polar fleece, John “Alf” Engwall designed the pattern for the hat that would become the choice for serious Rocky Mountain powder skiers. Engwall, Conrad Anker (the now legendary mountaineer), and brothers Jay and Kevin Boyle set out to introduce this effective design to the skiing and mountaineering world. The four co-founders consisted of three skiers and a rock climber, all of whom aspired to build a business and lifestyle around their respective beloved sport.
After a tragic car accident resulted in the death of Alf Engwall, the three remaining partners nurtured the Alfwear business for several years until they set out to pursue individual passions in 1989: Conrad Anker received sponsorship for his climbing endeavors; Jay Boyle moved to Phoenix, Arizona to attend graduate school; and Kevin Boyle, with his dream still intact to live in the mountains and work for himself, took over the company, began to pay off his former partners, and conceived the Jacquard Jacket, which would become the first Malden Mills Apex Award for Design Excellence winner. At the time the trio dispersed, Alfwear consisted of eight or nine plastic bags of the Alf hat.
Conrad Anker became a world-class rock climber and mountaineer, traveling the world, ascending the major summits, and famously finding the body of Mallory on Mount Everest. His accomplishments speak well of realizing lofty dreams.
Jay Boyle studied Tai Chi, earned his MBA in Arizona, and moved to Shanghai, China. He speaks Chinese and is involved in overseas production for KÜHL. His company EXPAT-CFO does consultancy for companies seeking to do business in China.
Kevin Boyle set out to transform Alfwear into something more than a hat company. With a passion for skiing, living in the mountains, and art, Kevin designed garments made from performance fabrics fit for his outdoor lifestyle. He turned Alfwear into today's clothing company known as KÜHL.
In 1990, KÜHL introduced the Jacquard jacket, our signature Euro-styled Polartec® fleece top that featured the first – the original – innovative thumb-loop cuff system and lightweight underarm gussets for comfort and optimal climate control. This top gained cult status in the outdoor community and went on to win the Polartec® Apex Award. More awards and devotees would follow as KÜHL continued to pioneer and produce. KÜHL is independently owned and financed and its ideas are inspired by the founders’ intrepid lifestyle and those with whom they share it. KÜHL currently designs and manufactures top-selling pants, shirts, outerwear and more and can be found in the best outdoor retailers nationwide.
Every contributor to KÜHL comes to the company with an outdoor lifestyle. KÜHL people ski, mountain and road bike, backpack, camp, mountaineer, and travel worldwide. Kevin Boyle began skiing hundred-days-a-year during the epic snow year of 1982. Evan Shapiro, the company’s first full-time employee, moved to Utah in 1984 to chase the same champagne powder dreams. After many seasons of deep-powder skiing in one of the world’s greatest ski areas, they now ski the deepest days of the year and apply the experience at KÜHL; they answer to the needs of those who find freedom living and playing in the great outdoors. KÜHL aspires to contribute to mountain culture in its efforts to provide these like-minded enthusiasts with the finest quality outdoor clothing available.
At KÜHL, the passion remains to get outdoors and have fun. KÜHL is what it means to be comfortable and relaxed in the challenging environment of life and sport. KÜHL means creating the best environment for you and knowing the importance of following your own beliefs and desires. For KÜHL, this dedication to original thinking translates into excellence in design and exceptional construction.
KÜHL not only delivers innovative style and features, such as the thumb-loop cuff, but also uses exclusive fabrics with unique weaves and vintage washes to create authentic character. Our articulated, gusseted, precise designs, combined with the utmost craftsmanship, provide a fit that is pure comfort. Wearing KÜHL not only represents the freedom of movement but also free will.
Recent appearances in the media
- 7/17/2016: Lee Benson wrote an article about KÜHL in Deseret News.