Visiting design student piques interest of major B.C. brand

Wed, Aug 23, 2023

Emilia Steinbock’s journey to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and her connection to a major B.C. high performance outdoor equipment company started on a ski lift – in Sweden.

Noticing a fellow ski lift passenger was similarly clad in Arc'teryx apparel, they got to talking about Wilson School of Design at KPU, and the possibility of collaborating with such brands while studying design.

Emilia Steinbock holding skis

“From there on I was on a very determined mission to get into KPU,” she says. “There isn’t a lot of schools like this in the world.”

Steinbock, a 25-year-old student from Sweden who is studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, arrived in January as a visiting student – a study abroad option offered by KPU International allowing students from another post-secondary institution to spend up to two semesters at KPU.

Studying technical apparel design at Wilson School of Design at KPU’s Richmond campus, Steinbock further developed her idea for an avalanche airbag vest for women, a design well-suited for backcountry skiers. It’s now piqued the interest of Arc'teryx, a North Vancouver-based brand known for its leading innovations in climbing, skiing, and alpine technologies.

“I moved to Vancouver with the mission of getting in contact with Arc'teryx. It took time but the experience has definitely exceeded my expectations,” says Steinbock.

Born in Sweden, Steinbock is a lifelong skier, studying sustainable fashion technology at Copenhagen School of Design and Technology in Denmark. She expects to graduate in January and hopes to put her skills to use at a firm such as Arc'teryx, which has already given her positive feedback on her design.

“It’s always hard for female athletes to find something that actually fits them well because the back is usually too long, and the straps aren’t properly adjustable for a female body. That’s where my product comes in. I’m developing a valuable product with the female as the standard that later can be developed into a unisex product.”

Continuing her studies at KPU this summer, Steinbock is refining her concept, having sought opinions from high-level, younger-generation skiers who most value style and comfort.

“I’ve been wanting to design ski apparel for females specifically because this is a very male-dominated industry. My goal has always been to push female ski apparel to the forefront of the industry and create more space for female skiing.”

Using advanced computer software at Wilson School of Design, Steinbock has been drafting digital designs before developing physical prototypes.

“Emilia has been a pleasure to teach this summer as she explores the next phase of her design project. She has been working with 3D programs like Clo3D to work through her design on a human realistic avatar so that she can get a better understanding of fit as it relates to her target market,” says Jessica Bayntun, chair of the technical apparel design program at Wilson.

The visiting student program is just one study abroad opportunity offered by KPU International, which coordinates international admissions, international support services, and global partnerships for the university. Exchange semesters, field schools, summer schools, and virtual global learning are just some of the international programs available to students.