Universal Coach - Outerboro
urban dwellers who’s experience living in the bitter cold
of Boston inspired them to create their own outerwear
brand. Officially founded in 2012, OUTERBORO believes
clothing should be suitable for everyday use, and a
variety of outdoor activities as well. It’s this vision of
combining professional and active lifestyles that makes
passion for graffiti and outdoor activities inspired Michael Tu and James Tsai to create their
own line of urban outdoor gear. However, they still find fresh inspirations closer to home.
Only a few kilometers from busy Taipei Main station,
OUTERBORO’s studio is in the heart of Taipei’s original
downtown area. The streets outside feel chaotic, but
walking into OUTERBORO’s space presents a scene of both
simplicity and professionalism. A large, classic office
space, filled with desks and people busy at work crafting
the latest gear. There’s nothing exaggerated going on
here, they clearly mean business. Michael and James
reflect this dynamic in their personalities as well. While
Michael emerges as the more clean-cut business natured
entrepreneur of the two, James gives a relaxed sense
of simplicity and street-wise charisma to the brand.
Michael and James, along with staff designers Thomas
and Ritz, share their perspective, experience, and what
they created for the Doing More project.
Marketing Design Manager｜James Tsai (Left)
Where is OUTERBORO located?
Michael - The OUTERBORO office in downtown Taipei, near the Taipei main station. This office space
was originally a textile spinning mill that my grandfather built over 30 years ago, so there’s a lot of
James - When my parents were growing up, this was the hip part of Taipei. A lot of new
companies are opening around us and it’s becoming interesting again.
What drove the creation of
M - James and I met in boarding school in New England.
It gets extremely cold there, so we quickly became
familiar with all types of outdoor products and developed
a deep interest in them. When I moved back to Taiwan in
2012, we decided to create OUTERBORO to continue
exploring our interest.
What kind of impact did boarding school have on you and
M - Every day, we had to dress up. Dress shirts, belts, dark socks, suits, tie. That left a
deep impression on us. We were able to understand the benefit of looking good. But we
were always worried about doing other things. We wondered, why can’t we make
everyday wear that’s more hassle free? We imagined clothes we could do more in,
without worrying about them.
J - We wanted clothes that let us do a lot more. That's the underlying message at
OUTERBORO. Our clothes are supposed to help us in whatever we do—attending a
meeting, going on a hike, or doing some graffiti.
What kind of impact are you trying to make in the world?
M - We’re trying to have a positive impact. I think about what we can do in the world,
especially the environment. I also hope to encourage people to think quality over
quantity. Have one article of clothing that lasts a long time. Something versatile, and
J - People are so obsessed with politics, but you know, Donald Trump is not the biggest
threat to our world, pollution is.
How has this collaboration been for your team?
M - I love this kind of collaboration with other brands. The Doing More experience has been
really exciting. It allows us to think about what it actually takes to do more, and work with
other people. It’s been a lot of work but also refreshing and eye opening.
Thomas ( OUTERBORO designer ) - It’s been exciting to work on this case. Collaborating,
exploring new Duopel materials and trying to look at jackets from new angles.
Ritz ( OUTERBORO designer ) - From the beginning, talking about ideas, sharing, exploring
options and then actually creating something, has been an incredible learning experience.
What did your team create for this
R - Both Thomas and I explored a lot of ideas and played
with many different designs. In the end, we created a
coach jacket, the simple kind of jacket you might see a
basketball coach wearing. However, the jacket is unique
because it's completely waterproof thanks to the Duopel
material. We even used performance tape to seal all the
seams which give it a really special look. We also used a
military grade paracord (parachute cord) for the
drawstring which adds a functional element that could
be used in the event of an emergency.
T - We wanted to focus on the fabric. A lot of jackets
using waterproof membranes will put it on the inside,
but Duopel is unique in that we can put that on the
outside and make a more comfortable, better-looking
jacket. We wanted to try something new and show the
capabilities of Duopel. You can't find a coach jacket like
this on the market.
R - In the end, we have a jacket that's simple, and nice
enough to wear to the office or to dinner. Yet it's
performance capable. You can go hiking in
the mountains with this, and stay dry, even survive. That’s
the OUTERBORO vision, to create these type of products.
What are you doing more of recently?
J - I’m thinking more about product philosophy—working with the design team, and
making products that really do more.
M - Being proud of Taiwan's brands, and focusing more on what kind of value we can
add here, instead of just how to make something cheaper.
Is clothing really that important for humans?
M - It only takes 30 minutes to die from core temperature change. You can go weeks
without food, days without water, but weather can kill you in a matter of minutes, so
yeah, clothing plays an important role in our lives. You could even say clothing is more
important than food or water.
I like to look at human beings 5000 years ago and how they survived. What are the essential
things that human beings need? I try to think about this and apply it to OUTERBORO.
What kind of materials will outdoor
brands like OUTERBORO be using more of in the future?
J - Definitely more environmentally friendly ones. Duopel
is a good example of this. The whole outdoor industry is
shifting their waterproofing methods to materials that
are better for the environment, and I think this is going
to keep progressing.
M - I think brands will be more aware and knowledgeable
of the materials they are using. In general, a lot of brands
don't know what chemicals are in their materials, what
fibers are being used, or how their fabrics are being
made, and whether any of it is good for the environment
or not, but this will change in the future.
3 things people should be doing more:
- Exploring; getting out of the comfort zone.
- Being prepared.
- Doing your homework; think more.