An Italian designer’s custom skis pair high performance with panache.
For the former competitive downhiller Alessandro Marchi, designing skis is like making a gourmet meal. “It all starts in the kitchen; you need to have good products and you need to cook properly,” he says. “The same goes with skis. You must combine the materials in just the right way in order to get the best result.”
Marchi’s “kitchen” is a workshop in the Italian Alps, where he crafts his designs for Foil Skis (foilskis.com), the company he cofounded in 2014 to build high-performance alternatives to the sport’s commoditized products. Every Foil ski is custom made to fit a client’s abilities and aesthetic preferences, from one of two basic forms: the Classico all-mountain ski (shown in African rosewood; priced from $12,000 including bindings and poles) and the Riserva, a World Cup–inspired racing model designed for precision turning. Both feature bamboo sidewalls reinforced with stainless steel and enveloping a core of ash wood, paulownia, and fiberglass. Each pair of skis takes at least three weeks to finish, including 60 hours of labor for the nickel-plated bindings alone.
To ensure an accurate fit, Marchi can personally deliver the skis along with a handcrafted full-grain leather bag ($6,000) stocked with leather-handled ski poles. “Many times we go to the slopes and people say, ‘I’ve skied my whole life and never had anything like this,’ ” he says. “They can ski all day long, and they smile at the end of the day like never before.”