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Quality at a price - Jane Peel, Covent Garden
Tuesday November 24, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

Earlier we reported on the range of cheap skiwear being offered by the discount store Aldi. Now we look at the other end of the scale with Ellis Brigham.

In the interests of balance, we now look at the other end of the market and ask, do you really get what you pay for?

It follows my article about the cheap gear on offer at Aldi that claims you can kit out a family of 4 for £175 then see here.

Ellis Brigham is altogether different.

It's flagship store in London's Covent Garden is one of those places I could spend hours in. 

The place is huge and it's full of things I want.

Mostly, though, it's full of things I can't afford. 

Ellis BrighamEllis Brigham flagship Covent Garden store













So it is with a heavy heart that I meet up with the Clothing Department Manager, Alex Bernays, who is going to show me around and explain why I need to pay good money for good quality.

"We don't sell anything budget in here," he says.  "Our lower price range would be most people's high end, and our high end would be most people's very high end".

Too true. 

It is possible to spend more on a jacket here than on a week's ski holiday. 

Ellis Brigham keeps its ski and snowboard gear in separate parts of the store. 

Different animals, different territory.

Ellis BrighamThe Sowboard Asylum













Downstairs in The Snowboard Asylum (it even has its own name) the clothing is more "urban-inspired", according to Alex.

Ellis BrighamDownstairs boarders only













There's less of it and, as a general rule, it's less pricey than the ski clothing.

You can get a Colourwear men's snowboard jacket for £175 and pants for £125.

The most expensive jacket here - £480 - is from the top snowboard brand, Burton.

Ellis BrighamColourwear for boarders













Upstairs, there is ski clothing as far as the eye can see, and in almost every conceivable colour and style.

Ellis BrighamAll colours all styles















There are padded jackets with faux-fur hoods, slinky stretch ski-pants, super-lightweight shell jackets.

Apparently, boarders wouldn't be seen dead up here.

Which is why Alex - a boarder - looks crestfallen when I ask him to model the most expensive men's ski jacket in the store.

It is made by Killy and costs £749.99.

The brochure says the new Killy collection "will delight the ski connoisseur who demands the best in quality and performance".

I should think so, for that price.

The Killy jacket is part of Ellis Brigham's Prestige Range.

Ellis BrighamAlex in Killy jacket













"It is the highest quality," Alex tells me, doing his best to look happy while wearing it.

 "It's exclusive with a really good cut and fit and the best materials.  When you put it on you can feel the quality.

"It's the sort of thing people with a bit of cash to spend want".

Unless they are boarders.

The top-priced ladies' jacket in the store is made by Mountain Force. It is £725. 

Obviously,  I try it on.  I move.  It moves with me, thanks to something called four-way stretch. 

It is, without question, the most comfortable ski jacket I have ever worn in that I can't feel I am wearing it at all.

We are one - me and the jacket.

Ellis Brigham The most expensive ladies jacket in the store

















Ellis Brigham Matching jacket & trousers £1,200
















Luckily, it's not my colour, and the matching pink print trousers - which would set me back another £475  - look truly awful. 

Alex insists that customers who buy products by brands such as Killy, Spyder and Arcteryx are not paying a premium simply for the name.

In some cases, he says, they are paying for exclusivity.  

He shows me one jacket by Eider selling for £450.  There are only 24 on sale in the whole of the UK.

Overall the price is, Alex says, an indication of how good the product is at doing its job.

The higher the price the better the "build",  breathability, and the water and wind proofing qualities.

Ellis BrighamHigh performance Norrona and Arcteryx













Gore-Tex, for example, will be more breathable than polyurethane, which is used in some cheaper models.

And if you choose an insulated jacket rather than a shell, you will pay more for one with a premium brand insulation that will keep you warm, even if it does get wet. 

There are products made with the ski tourer in mind.

Other brands claim to have clothing particularly suited to the part of the world in which you plan to ski. 

Alex says Ellis Brigham has them all, along with staff with sufficient knowledge to point the customer in the right direction.

And if you've got less cash to splash, there are cheaper options, relatively speaking.

Ellis Brigham's All Mountain Range is the most affordable.


Ellis BrighamInexpensive all mountain range












Protest has a pair of women's stretch ski trousers for £99.99 and a jacket for £139.99.

"The people who buy this range tend to be those who are going off on one week's holiday a year, families, cruisers," Alex says.

"They don't go off-piste and hiking so don't need the more high-spec lightweight clothing.

"Most people want one jacket they can wear on the hill, in town and for the British winter too.

"And some people will come into the shop and say they're looking for a particular colour or a combination of, say, a red jacket and black trousers, and that will be the most important thing for them".

Whatever it is you want, the chances are you will find it at Ellis Brigham.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to keep on wanting for a while yet.

It may be expensive but it looks worth it to me.

Ellis BrighamThe Covent Garden Store













For Jane's earlier article about the cheap gear on offer at Aldi that claims to kit out a family of 4 for £175 then see here.

And for further details about Ellis Brigham then follow this link.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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