Peak Style: Ostrya Founders Share Brand Story & Bucket List Trips

SHARP & Seiko

Designed in the heart of Montreal and worn in some of the wildest places on earth, Ostrya’s line of stylish mountaineering gear blends urban sophistication with technical capability. This unique combination of influences reflects the outdoor-loving culture of Montreal and the respect for traditional menswear shared by Ostrya’s founders, François-Xavier Tétreault and Simon-David Fortin. We caught up with Tétreault and Fortin to ask them about the story behind their brand, the words they live by, and their bucket-list destinations to hike, climb, and ski. 

Whats the story behind Ostrya? 

François-Xavier Tétreault: We both studied fashion in Montreal, Fortin doing design and administration and myself focusing on marketing, then we both studied technical clothing design. We went our own ways for a few years, me on the marketing and sales side of the industry and Simon making jackets on a sewing line. After a short time, we decided to do a project together, and that was the start of Ostrya.

Ostrya founder wearing a Seiko SLA069 with black bezel

Was connecting with the outdoors through sport always a part of your lives? 

Simon-David Fortin: Yes absolutely. My parents got me into ski lessons when I was about three and my dad taught me how to snowboard when I was seven. Being outside and learning new sports was how we would spend most of our time together, so I was climbing, scuba diving, hiking, and camping at a young age.

François-Xavier Tétreault: I’m from Montreal, but I spent a lot of time in the Laurentians with my family, boating and hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. We’ve both always had an interest in the outdoor industry and access to nice gear, and we both developed a big interest in fashion as we grew up.

What do you love most about running an outdoor brand in Montreal? 

Simon-David Fortin: The way the city blends fashion with the outdoors is super nice to me. The fact that we are so close to nature pushes us to build strong products that last and perform in difficult conditions. The fashion and clothing industry in Montreal is also super dynamic, so there are a lot of very cool projects that come out of here. 

François-Xavier Tétreault: It’s a city where everybody’s welcome and there are all types of people from all over the world. Rents are a bit cheaper than other places, so it’s a place where people bring their ideas and try stuff, kind of like what we’re doing. And being outdoors is a big part of everyone’s life here.

How has connecting with the outdoors for so many years impacted how you think about the planet, especially when it comes to your production and consumption habits? 

Simon-David Fortin: Spending time in nature at a young age makes you connect with your environment differently and it created in me the desire to protect that playground and its beauty. With Ostrya, it was always important for us to make sustainable efforts regarding our manufacturing process, and picking the right partners and materials is at the heart of our development as the company grows. I buy most of my clothes second-hand and I also like to own as little as possible, so I usually give away my older stuff to friends or second-hand stores to make it circular. 

As explorative entrepreneurs, timekeeping is very important. What do you look for in a watch? 

Simon-David Fortin: I’ve always been into watches, and as a fan of menswear and heritage products I find a lot of beauty in a good quality watch. I am always looking for style and durability. I also intend to keep it for life so mechanical watches are always my first choice.

Ostrya founders standing next to each other in the store

What are some of your dream locations to visit around the world? 

François-Xavier Tétreault: I do a lot of trail running and hiking, so I would love to go to the Alps. There’s such a great hiking and climbing culture there where you can just go around with your backpack and eat some good cheese, drink some nice wine, sleep in the mountain huts, and meet nice people. I would also love to visit the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.

What is a motivational or inspiring message that you live by? 

Simon-David Fortin: I think staying humble and open is really important. The experiences I learned the most from were definitely the ones that were the most challenging. To me, the most interesting opportunities always came from uncomfortable places that really forced me to push myself. Also, as an entrepreneur, it’s always easier to work on projects that are close to your heart and that you feel passionate about. It makes it way more fun and allows you to create something that is truly authentic.