Ten years after making their debut, Shred
are returning to their roots with a move to Park City this month and an even greater commitment to innovation.
In 2006, Olympic gold medalist and world champion alpine skier Ted Ligety partnered with Carlo Salmini, a materials engineer and graduate of MIT, to launch Shred and Slytech. With a thirst for progression, the brands aimed to create eyewear and protective equipment that enhanced performance without sacrificing style. And as much as their vision was rooted in pioneering fresh technology, it was also steeped in irreverence and a sense of humor.
“We didn’t have a business plan like all of our competitors, but we had plenty of ambition and the vision to make the products we had always craved,” explains Ligety, who serves as Shred and Slytech’s chairman. “Shred’s inaugural collection consisted of a single goggle frame, available in a healthy dose of neon. Iconic, original, loud-whatever you called them, our goggles were visible from across the valley.” To improve athletes’ performance, they also featured an especially large field of vision, a rarity at the time. This would become one of the brand’s signature features, ShredWide™. With market-leading peripheral vision, this lens and frame design enables riders to see more of what is ahead and around them.
Perhaps more quietly, Slytech began starting its own revolution. Not long after making its debut, the brand introduced the first back protector to forgo plastic components in favor of soft foam and a hardware free design. Thanks to its technical microstructure, this foam offered exceptional impact protection. “Simply put, we wanted to help athletes safely push their limits without being constrained,” explains Salmini, who now serves as Shred and Slytech’s CEO.
The company started as a two-man operation, complemented by the help of friends and family. While working out of a garage, Salmini and Ligety frantically learned how to build the brands from nothing. Yet according to Ligety, “We now have an amazing team of people who want to succeed as much as we do.”
Through the years, the brands’ goggles, sunglasses, and protective equipment have amassed a handful of patents for innovative developments such as Shred’s NoDistortion™ lens technology to enhance vision precision and Slytech’s NoShock™ multi-directional impact protection. These advancements have helped the brands garner a loyal following among dedicated athletes and action sports enthusiasts.
Ligety has also snagged five gold medals at the World Championships with these products and taken them to the top of the Olympic podium twice, starting with Slytech’s initial prototypes during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. With each of these products, Ligety was looking for concepts to hopefully shave seconds off his times on the race course–while enhancing safety and functionality for all skiers and snowboarders. He then refined each concept through significant R&D before guiding it to the factory floor. Despite Shred and Slytech’s continual evolution, both he and Salmini are quick to note that some things never change.
“When we launched Shred and Slytech, we aimed to embrace and unite all snowsports. I was very influenced by snowboarding and freeskiing and inspired by their creativity and innovation,” explains Ligety. “At the time, snowsports were pointlessly at odds with one another and many brands only perpetuated an animosity instead of celebrating our shared similarities.” In November 2006, Rudi Kroell became the first pro snowboarder to officially compete in an international contest while donning Shred’s products. A few days later, World Cup racer Resi Stiegler emerged as the first skier to sport the brand in international competition.
Ten years later, Stiegler continues to anchor Shred and Slytech’s rosters, which showcase a blend of freeskiers, snowboarders, ski racers, and mountain bikers. She’s joined by heavy hitters that include snowboarders Kevin Backstrom, Tadashi Fuse, Wolle Nyvelt, Antti Autti, Victor de Le Rue, and Romain De Marchi, as well as skiers Lara Gut, Tom Wallisch, and Mike Hornbeck and mountain bikers Reece Wallace and Ryan Nyquist.
And while Shred and Slytech tout especially strong rosters, they proudly maintain their status as underdogs. “In an industry dominated by publicly traded companies, huge conglomerates, and brands that disappear as quickly as they arrive, Shred and Slytech are truly an anomaly,” explains Ligeti. According to Salmini, the brands’ story and philosophy differentiate them from competitors just as much as their products. “We learn from our mistakes and are always ready to face the challenges. Yet with passion and a love for the mountains, we put everything we have into competing–and excelling–against these giants,” he explains. “Our independence is a tremendous asset, as it enables us to be nimble and rapidly innovate. Equally important, it ensures we never have to compromise the integrity of our products or vision.”
According to Ligety, this vision has become more powerful with time. “Today, after successes, failures, and lessons learned from our mistakes, we have a few more products to our name, but our commitment to innovation is stronger than ever,” he offers. Salmini notes that this commitment has led to a slew of recent advancements, such as Shred’s proprietary technology that redirects rotational forces from an impact by allowing a small amount of relative movement between the helmet and the head during impacts from any direction. This reduces rotational energy transferred to the brain.
By moving their U.S. headquarters from New Hampshire to Park City, Shred and Slytech hope to further strengthen this ability to innovate. After all, their new office is just a few minutes from the slopes. The move to Utah also brings the brands back home. “Carlo and I first had the vision for Shred and Slytech while mountain biking on the Wasatch Crest Trail,” reveals Ligety. “After launching the brands, we initially ran our U.S. operations out of my garage in Park City, enlisting our friends as sales reps.”
For Ligety, returning to Park City serves as a testament to both the brands’ continual evolution and deep roots. “It’s been an amazing journey–and we’re especially excited to kick off the next chapter in Park City,” he explains. “Ten years in, we’re still building the products of our dreams. Despite the challenges of our industry and our time, we always work with a smile on our face knowing Shred and Slytech will stand the test of time.”
Photo 1: Shred and Slytech Co-founder Ted Ligety
Photo 2: Slytech’s Original 2nd Skin Back Protector
Photo 3: Shred Optics’ original 2006 goggle collection