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Backcountry.com is expanding its branded product line for the backcountry with the Stoic shell for men and women, and the company opted for Event fabric as the waterproof/breathable membrane for it.
The Stoic jacket, which launched onto the Backcountry.com website the last week of October, is already garnering strong sales, according to brand division manager for Backcountry.com, Bill Hartlieb.
“We started with a line of premium products branded with the Backcountry.com name and goat logo last year. The line included some merino wool, fleece, beanies, hats, and now we have added shells,” Hartlieb told SNEWS®. “Our mandate is to provide our customers with innovative product designs, great performance and a premium fit. For us Event provides the best material available for breathability and overall body comfort.”
Naturally, the Event team is thrilled as the Backcountry.com selection comes on the heels of REI January 2008 announcement that the retailer was building a branded outerwear collection exclusively around Event – click here to read the news release.
“Our Event brand growth is trending the right direction,” Chad Kelly, global product manager for Event, told SNEWS. “The REI launch was a big deal and now the Backcountry.com product launch is an appropriate follow-up. REI sold this so fast they could not keep it in stock. We feel Backcountry is going to have similar success.”
Kelly pointed out that it is not Event’s primary strategy to open up retailers around the globe wanting to launch branded apparel. Still, he acknowledges that the REI announcement fueled interest that has doubled traffic on the company website and helped it with brands who were on the fence or not even considering Event prior to that. For 2009, the company expects to see a dozen new brands launching outerwear and footwear with Event in both the United States and Europe.
For Backcountry.com, the Stoic jacket marks the launch of a new strategy for the Internet retailer.
“Right now, the Stoic Event jackets are just a style name, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, but at some point, we do expect it to evolve into its own brand name with the Stoic brand for backcountry adventuring sold on all the Backcountry.com sites,” Hartlieb said. Backcountry.com has already moved down this path with the Cutter brand, targeting the urban bike commuter. Hartlieb said the brand had just launched so it was too early to tell, but so far, sales looked good and the brand’s future appears strong.
Might this mean Stoic, Cutter and perhaps other Backcountry.com produced gear and apparel might eventually move into the wholesale channel? Never say never, Harlieb told SNEWS. “At Backcountry, we can move more quickly than many other brands, so if we make that decision, it won’t take us long to execute on it. But, it’s not on our immediate radar.”
As for the design strength and vision behind the Stoic and other Backcountry.com branded gear and apparel, Backcountry.com leverages, appropriately, the strength of the Internet.
“We are pretty bony at this point and find the best way for us to bring products to market it to stay focused. With the Backcountry.com line of apparel for the backcountry, we are designing for Northwest weather where we tell ourselves that there is never bad weather in the mountains, only bad outfits,” said Hartlieb. “We control all the design in-house, and use internal resources where we can. And where we have to outsource, we go out and find the best to help us remain fresh and drive innovation – there’s an awful lot of collaboration in product development that can be done these days with the Internet.”
Lest anyone think Hartlieb is out of his element, consider his background – most recently he was a sourcing manager for REI and, true to his engineering background, designed packs. Which made us wonder if packs and tents are not too far from becoming part of the future Stoic brand?
“When the time is right, we want to offer hardgoods,” said Hartlieb, “but that is well down the road.”