Raising The Bar // Tom Routh And Cohaesive

Andy Malton

Simple cord management systems have existed on mountain apparel for decades. First designers captured the loose cord to stop it from being a nuisance, the next step was to retain both the cord and the cord lock so operation was possible with one hand. As the move towards a cleaner look progressed, designers started to place retained cord locks inside the garment. Some of these systems work better than others, the best are simple and effective to use, the worst are clumsy and prone to failure.

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Cohaesive Embedded Components became a reality after 5 years of hard work


Tom Routh, founder of FYi Design, is a man with a history of design breakthroughs within the outdoor and winter sports industry. His latest project Cohaesive Embedded Components, brings together 5 years of work developing a new and improved way of managing cord adjustment on outerwear.

With Cohaesive, Routh and his partners set about building an embedded cord management system from scratch. They designed and developed proprietary tools, materials and adhesives to enable them to produce a product that doesn’t just provide incremental improvements on existing systems, but radically moves things forward.

Instead of tethering, stitching and sealing hardware to the garment, Cohaesive actually embeds hardware within the garment by laminating it directly to the textile. The end result is a system that is simple and intuitive to use. Cohaesive also provides a clean, minimal aesthetic whilst remaining highly functional at the same time. 

It says a great deal about FYi’s take on progression when so much effort goes into making something ‘we hope you won’t even notice’. Cohaesive components feature heavily throughout Black Diamond’s recently launched outerwear range and have helped BD build the kind of modern and super functional product they are known for.

People don’t always need more stuff, they just need certain things to work really well.

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Based in Pemberton, BC deep in the Canadian Coast Mountains, FYi’s base is a bespoke design and development studio with one hell of a backyard view. One of the secrets to FYi’s success lies in the fact that they are able to take an idea and develop it from start to finish. Having world class design and production facilities in house enables them build, tweak and test prototypes as often as is required, without having to go through the process of shipping samples to and from factories in Asia, as is often the case. The Coast Mountains provide an ideal testing ground for prototypes at any time of the year and working in one of the World’s most beautiful mountain ranges can’t be bad for inspiration.

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The FYi design studio in Pemberton, BC. In the background is Mt Currie, a beautiful peak that dominates the Pemberton valley. The Coast Range is an idea place to design and test garments and equipment made for the mountains.


For Tom Routh, design and life in the mountains go hand in hand. In the early days of snowboarding he rode on the competition circuit for legendary brand Sims during which time he scored both a place at the US Open and a Transworld Snowboarding cover. His first foray into design was with his own rucksack brand Cirque Works, which included making the first pack to feature a specific snowboard carry system. A position at Salomon followed before Routh was recruited by Arc’teryx to develop their first line of ski and snowboard apparel.

During his time at Arc’teryx Routh was the driving force behind several major advancements in garment and equipment design. He helped make the curved zip become a reality whilst working on the first of the now legendary Sidewinder series of jackets, along with being part of the initial developments in composite construction, where different fabrics are utilised across different zones of a garment depending on the level of protection, durability or breathability required. 

More recently FYi partnered with Burton on their AK line of snowboarding clothing and equipment. Routh’s designs fused traditional snowboarding style with the latest fabrics and construction methods in technical mountain wear perfectly; a simple concept on the face of it but not one that is easily achieved. 


His work with Patagonia set the foundations of the company’s return to producing Gore-Tex outerwear and breathed new life into their range of mountain clothing. Jackets like the PowSlayer and Super Alpine bear all the hallmarks of Routh and FYi design; elegant, durable, functional garments made using the very best materials, designed and assembled with meticulous attention to detail. 

Collaborations with brands like New Balance and Apple show Routh isn’t just about the mountains either. FYi’s design philosophy is ubiquitous: 

We strive for functional simplicity, wherein every element has multiple reasons for being. Nothing is arbitrary. Form and function become the same thing. Aesthetic emerges from purpose.


The Patagonia Nano Puff Hybrid is a classic Tom Routh product. The design makes the most of the material's best qualities and the end result is a garment that defines progression.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Hybrid is a classic Tom Routh product. The design makes the most of the material’s best qualities and the end result is a garment that defines progression.


Like much of Routh’s past work, Cohaesive will exert an influence on garment design and construction across the industry as more brands utilise the technology and develop their own cord management systems. The movement towards creating more functional, stylish and user friendly apparel continues with Tom Routh and FYi Design riding at the forefront of the creative and constructive processes involved. 

Find out more about Cohaesive Embedded Components at cohaesive.com. There’s a whole world of high end design over at fyidesigdept.com.