As befits an icon, Mickey Mouse has a signature look: Cabaret style white gloves, high-waisted red shorts, topless. (And, perhaps, goes to bed wearing only Chanel no. 5?)
But the mouse that built the House of Disney recently got a Pacific NW makeover, appearing, for the first time in—brace yourself—camping gear fit for hiking the Timberline Trail.
Columbia Sportswear, Oregon’s flagship outwear apparel brand, is responsible for Mickey’s camping couture restyle (though without that familiar Columbia logo—legally, Mickey can’t be seen with any non-Disney logo.)
“Not every company gets the opportunity to work with Disney on this level—requesting to work with their top illustrators and create a newly designed Mickey Mouse. Because of the quality of the product and the marketing efforts behind it, we really got more focused attention from Disney,” says Matt Merriman, the senior director of licensing at Columbia.
The 18-piece collection features rainwear, graphic tees, hats, and sun-protective shirts and hoodies, optimizing drying and cooling technology, as befits unpredictable Oregon springs.
“We are not just trying to create commodity product,” says Merriman. “We wanted to create something that really had never been done, that was special.”
But wait a minute—pop contrast color-blocking, graphic mouse prints, and Mickey ears sewn into sunshine yellow raincoats? It’s not exactly the classic earth-toned hues of olive and navy more commonly associated with Columbia’s aesthetic.
Phil Padilla, senior designer and merchandiser at Columbia, says the collection is more of a young, fresh throwback to the brand’s nostalgic ’80s prints—a decade that has semi-recently resurfaced among fashionistas.
“There’s a resurge in what we’re calling heritage or retro, more authentic styles. If you think about classic Columbia ski wear in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was very loud in terms of pattern, design, and color blocking. We wanted to make this collection on-trend to really appeal to a younger audience,” says Padilla.
That’s not the only flashback incorporated in the designs. Padilla was largely inspired by the vintage button-eyed Mickey iteration closely associated with Walt Disney’s original drawings.
Merriman says this isn’t the last of Columbia’s collaborations with Disney. The two mega corporations first partnered in 2016 with a Lucasfilm Star Wars Partnership.
“Our relationship with Disney is strong,” says Merriman. “We’ve had a lot of excitement around the different collaborations with them.”