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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '06 Trends: Lifestyle apparel & T-shirts

No longer cool to look like a dirt bag, lifestyle clothing lines are tightening up and offering a more immaculate presentation. New players with unique stories are entering the scene and each have something special to offer. Being a fall preview, we saw lots of shirt-jackets, vests and long coats sprinkled throughout various lines prepared to warm wearers when the next cold snap hits. And, we continue to see techy fabrics that offer wrinkle resistance, quick drying, stain resistance and temperature-regulating comfort. Function, for the most part, appears to be assumed for all apparel. Fashion is becoming expected.

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The SNEWS® team of editors powered by imported dark chocolate and numerous espresso shots (not necessarily in that order), zigged and zagged around the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market floor to ensure we could bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out. No, each report is not complete and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. We’re only covering product that stood out to us, so if you’re not mentioned, our brains were either too frozen from our early morning runs to see you, we didn’t think your product stood out sufficiently, or we started drinking espresso shots too early in the afternoon — you pick one. With that in mind, here’s our take on trends and new products for lifestyle apparel and T-shirts:

No longer cool to look like a dirt bag, lifestyle clothing lines are tightening up and offering a more immaculate presentation. New players with unique stories are entering the scene and each have something special to offer. Being a fall preview, we saw lots of shirt-jackets, vests and long coats sprinkled throughout various lines prepared to warm wearers when the next cold snap hits. And, we continue to see techy fabrics that offer wrinkle resistance, quick drying, stain resistance and temperature-regulating comfort. Function, for the most part, appears to be assumed for all apparel. Fashion is becoming expected.

Aikane — Born of necessity and a sewing machine bought on credit, Aikane founder Tayla Dodson started making her own clothes to express her unique ideas about what she wanted to wear. After constantly being asked where she got her clothes, Dodson met a pattern maker who gave her a crash course in fashion and sewing — and Aikane (Hawaiian for “friend”) was officially launched. The company blends Dodson’s loves of surfing, skiing and motocross to create funky skirts, board shorts, capris, knit shirts and tanks, and rash guards. The skirts take cues from board short looks, are made with fast-drying fabrics and feature tons of extra pockets for lip balm, passport and credit cards. For less flash, check out the Ride a Wave and Bubb Rubb skirts. For a walk on the wilder skirt side, go for the Car-n-Go and Da Purse. In knit shirts, we liked the V-Neck Stripe, Strappy and Boat Neck tanks, and the one-shoulder Sling shirt.

Alps — For fall 2006, Alps has added color and lighter weight and novelty fabrications. For women, the Folklore cardigan in lambs wool and angora looked good at $37.50 wholesale. Other standouts were the Cherry Grove cardigan ($32.50 wholesale), the Ombre Stripe Zip Vest ($27 wholesale) and the Spindrift Jacket ($22.50 wholesale). For guys the winner was the Colebrook sweater of super wash wool Teflon-coated with a good-looking zip pocket on the sleeve. Machine washable, the Colebrook wholesales for $37.50.

Aventura — Customers will no longer see the Sportif name on its women’s Aventura clothing labels. Simply Aventura, the line just gets better and better with each new product launch. The color stories are tight and well coordinated, the fabrications unique and the looks definitely lifestyle. A favorite is the stretch moleskin Mallory skirt. Sweaters were winners in interesting blends and knits, the best being the Jenna and Mirium. Crinkle nylon/spandex tops like the Olivia Long Sleeve, and the Artisan 3/4 Sleeve. Tees took new turns with piecing in the Maggie Long Sleeve and Bailey 3/4 Sleeve. But the “ab fab” piece in the line is the Tatum Zip Front sweater in a polyacrylic, polyamide sweater knit blend (try to say that 10 times without stumbling). Wholesale prices for tees go up from $19, shirts from $16, skirts from $22.50, pants $22.50 and sweaters from $24.50.

Be As You Are — Known for its fun graphics on tees and ballcaps, Be As You Are is expanding into more lifestyle products like tote bags, wallets, umbrellas and beach towels. It’s also has an intimates line with women’s boxers, lounge pants, camisole tops and boy shorts.

Blurr — With more than 70 products in its fall 2006 line, Blurr showed 23 new and 16 updated pieces. Its outerwear program has also grown to eight styles that have a decidedly urban feel. With a push from Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op, Blurr has added more organic cotton into its line and hopes to one day use it exclusively. Among its new organic cotton offerings are the women’s long-sleeve Petals T-shirt with flower petal graphics floating down the sleeve, and the men’s City Sequel long-sleeve tee with cityscape graphics — each is patterned to fit athletic bodies.

Canada Goose — This Toronto-based company is known for its industrial and expedition parkas. It’s outfitted expeditions to Antarctica as well as the airport workers stationed on the tarmac. While retaining its core products, it’s branching out by embracing fashion with function. Best of the lot is the women’s Icicle vest, a form-fitted, hip-length down filled vest with a detachable coyote fur-trimmed hood available in 13 colors (white was a stand out) and retailing for $310. The Astrilla Jacket for $400 features Artic-Tech fabric of poly/cotton treated with Teflon and a detachable coyote fur-trimmed hood. The men’s Expedition Vostok G-Tech parka is windproof and waterproof and, in the new bright red-orange Bonfire color, is sure to keep the wearer warm and cozy. It retails for $760. The company’s first full-length parka, the Magnum, features side zips and a drop-in liner and retails for $600.

Cloudveil — For fall, Cloudveil has updated and added pieces to its Mountain Lifestyle collection. The men’s Sixteen Penny jacket has a minor facelift and is joined by the new Sixteen Penny vest and the Wild Wooly jacket made of a wool/spandex blend. All made of Polartec Thermal Pro sweater-knit, the men’s Neve sweater and pullover were also revised, as well as the women’s Neve pullover (and a Neve hoodie has been added). The women’s Cord-o-let pants have a couple new companions — the western-inspired Cord-o-let jacket and vest — with double narrow wale stretch corduroy, shearling fleece collar and chest pockets with snap closures. For street appeal and comfort, check out the new Run Don’t Walk pant for men and women in Polartec PowerStretch. The apparel maker has also expanded its facility in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and closed its Colorado office.

Contourwear — Borrowing from the past with herringbone and plaid prints, Contourwear’s goal is to mix up its line — taking the old and making it new. For starters, the classic knicker gets kicked up a notch as the Techno Gaucho. Made of Schoeller wool and Nanosphere technology, the gaucho has a low waist, rollout gator, deep hand pockets and a cargo pocket. For winter aficionados, there’s the Winter Tech pant made of Schoeller Dynamic with venting legs, credit card pocket and contrasting orange liner. Contourwear said it now has a 12-color palette for the year with colors like black, white and light pink among the constants.

Devold — Devold has 11 new sweater styles, rich new colors and closer-to-the-body fit. The trend toward cardigan styles is most obvious in Devold’s cotton sweaters with wonderful patterns and a soft feel. Favorites for women are the button-front Siri cardigan and the Lotte cardigan with hook closures and velvet ribbon trim. The men’s Saga collection combines traditional patterns with new twists. Wholesale prices range from $89.50 to $182.50.

Dude Girl — We love a good story and Dude Girl delivers. The inspiration behind Dude Girl is founder Kim McElhinney’s grandmother who did a two-month journey on horseback over the Rocky Mountains with her three girlfriends in 1928. A book was written about the adventure and aptly named “Dude Girl.” The company debuted its casual line of short sleeve, long sleeve and sleeveless T-shirts with feminine and crew necklines. With lots of colors to choose from, the shirts also feature graphics like an oversized boot stitch and vintage pictures of grandma and her friends horse racing. Also available are ball caps, knit hats, and cycling jerseys and shorts (which tie into its adventure travel company — but that’s another story).

ExOfficio — For fall ’06, ExOfficio is expanding its use of Dri-release with Freshguard — a microblend performance fabric that moves moisture and sweat away from the skin and dries quickly. The ExO Dri tees were best sellers in spring and have been joined this fall by the men’s ExO Dri Sportsman long-sleeve, button-down shirt and Windblock Convertible jacket and the women’s ExO Dri Pointelle long-sleeve T-shirt, Amiga hoody and pant, and Windblock Convertible jacket. Also new is the reversible About Face jacket with one side featuring a quilted outdoorsy style suitable for the trail, while the other offers a more streamlined look for urban. Available in a men’s and women’s style, the About Face is made of a water- and stain-resistant Ultralite nylon outer with Primaloft insulation. The company said it’s continuing to make huge strides in women’s fit, which was already getting dialed in for spring. And a favorite is back with an updated look — the Trailhead collection’s Isabella vest, which makes for a good layering piece.

Flyshacker — Who would have thought that pajama bottoms would be big sellers in outdoor stores? But believe it because companies like Flyshacker are doing a booming business in PJ bottoms. Flyshacker’s flannel Jon Q Wright PJ pants are available in seven different designs and the boxers in five. The whole loungewear category is taking off as evidenced by additional styles in Cozy Cabin PJ pants, coordinating tees and men’s Mountain Loungers. Men’s and women’s loungewear styles wholesale from $7 to $24.

Gramicci — We’re glad to see Gramicci is back. It’s truly stunning that nobody has successfully replicated the Street shorts and pants after nearly two decades (e.g., The North Face and Patagonia both tried and failed). The latest incarnation of Gramicci promises timely deliveries and consistent sizing (yes, we know, the company has been promising this for years now, and delivering on the promise only sporadically) with a dedication to the classic styles. The new collection retains its roots and expands on the theme. On another note, the company execs need to remember the company roots and get the staff to lighten up at trade shows. This isn’t MAGIC after all. It’s the outdoor industry. Act like it.

Green Label Organic — In an effort to correct people’s misconception that conventional cotton is “natural,” Green Label Organic produces 100-percent cotton clothing that feature message-driven graphics and a sustainable message. All of its clothing feature Rehance technology, a patented method of printing and low-impact garment dyeing that utilizes a water-based technology from T.S. Designs. Tees and tanks for men, women and kids are made in the United States in a sweatshop-free environment the company told us.

Hatley — If you’re looking for something fun and whimsical to lighten the mood or bring in for the holidays, Hatley has a great collection of casual wear for women, men and kids. Standouts are the Bear Country and Moose Woods collections with bear and moose graphics screen-printed on T-shirts and polo shirts, hoodies and sweatpants, nightshirts and PJs, and even underwear and socks.

Horny Toad — Striving to be the go-to apparel for every day of the week, Horny Toad’s men’s collection has a refined, relaxed look, while the ladies’ line exudes sexiness and sauciness in shapely silhouettes. Colors across the board are slightly subdued with more tone-on-tone combinations, fit continues to be trimmer, and eight new fabrics have been added. Among the new fabrics is Spare Ribs, a 95-percent cotton/5-percent Lycra blend with a textured, rib pattern, which is being used in new pieces like the women’s Daffy hoody and the Rosie and Lily long-sleeve shirts. The new Ottomatic is a 90-percent cotton/10-percent nylon blend that gives pieces like the new men’s retro-styled Roadie jacket a burly-but-not-boardy feel with some durability. Horny Toad is so committed to its men’s line that any customer who wears a piece three times and doesn’t get a compliment can return it for a full refund. Talk about standing by your man!

Icelandic Design — With sales up nearly 25 percent compared to last year for its handcrafted sweaters, Icelandic Design is noticing a demographic shift in its customers. Normally 45 and older, it’s seeing women as young as 35 picking up its wares. New this year is the ID Clare line, targeting its traditional customer with more casual styles for the weekend at a lower price point. Using less wool and more cotton and spandex, the collection consists of sweaters, cardigans and vests, as well as embellished tees. Also, the company said its Nordic classics continue to sell well.

Indigenous Designs — The buzz at Indigenous Designs is about its hand-painted merino yarns in sweaters, hats and scarves. Standout styles are the Camila Merino cardigan, a full-zip style with mock neck and the hand-painted Sleeveless Roll Neck. Hand-painted styles range from $48.50 to $64 wholesale. Another favorite is the Soho Full jacket in boiled merino wool with contrasting hand-painted yarns on the cuff and neck for $72 wholesale.

It’s What I Do — This T-shirt company out of Florida has two types of sport graphics — fun cartoony dude/dudette and sophisticated line drawings. The line drawings are striking and the artist talented — each drawing is one continuous line. Among the sports featured are climbing, kayaking, hiking, biking and fishing — either white graphics on black tees or vice versa. Cartoon dude has a wry smile and also appears on colored tees (crimson, yam, western sky, sand) doing nearly 40 sports and activities. Graphics also available on tanks, sweatshirts and hoodies.

JanSport — Lately, a few mainstream apparel makers are designing specialized garments that are iPod compatible. At Winter Market, JanSport debuted its own interpretations: the soft shell Power jacket, Denim jacket and Wired Puffer jacket. With sizing for both men and women, each jacket features the proprietary LiveWire+ system that enables users to listen to an iPod with an integrated remote and control keypad and a cord management system. The five-button keypad (volume, forward, reverse, pause and play) measures 3 inches by 1 inch and is located on the jacket’s front on the upper left side. Updating an old classic, the men’s Skip vest is a freshened up version of founder Skip Yowell’s lucky vest that’s reminiscent of the ’70s mountain man styling.

Julep Lounge — Julep Lounge owner and show newcomer, Kimberly Seltzer Appelt, introduced Kashwere, a yarn material similar in feel to cashmere, to show goers in beautifully designed sweaters with bell sleeves. Each comes in contrasting colors and embroidered motifs on sweater backs. Wholesale prices range from $62 to $80, a bargain for such elegant styles.

Kavu — Kavu’s line got a whole lot easier to see this year as the number of styles was reduced by half. Best new styles include the men’s Blender jacket and vest in glacier fleece at $45 and $32 wholesale, respectively, and the Bamboozler long-sleeve shirt in viscose fabric with a linen-feel for $26. Favorite pants like the Chilliwack and Coastal now come in longs. For women, a great tonal batik is available in the Marin shirt for $19.50 — perfect to pair with the new Pondaray pant in hemp cotton canvas at $28. Two new styles are favorites — the Lindsey Long Sleeve power cotton tee with side silkscreen print for $19 and the Lemon Grass V with a Mandarin collar, slightly belled sleeves and straight hem for $26.

Life is Good — As always, lots of new stuff to be had at Life is Good for men and women: quarter-zip microfleece pullover, lambswool sweater and cardigan,long-sleeve nubby jersey shirts and garment-dyed Henley — either with its Life is Good catchphrase subtlety across the chest or a tag on the bottom left. The company has also expanded the Half Full workout collection, substituted tags with imprinted labels on its Tech tees, and updated its women’s nightshirt style. In addition to new graphics, color palettes are a’changing for men (seven new hues like clay and harvest), and new additions for women and kids (like raspberry). New goods of the non-apparel variety are handmade barn-board picture frames made of Fir wood and embossed with Life is Good script, and three new bag collections. The Hansen collection has three weatherproof pieces — Rambler backpack, Smile messenger bag and Jake’s duffel — that feature adjustable straps, leather pulls, oversized Jake graphics in three colors.

Marmot — Marmot recently hired former L.L. Beaner Greg Houser as its new vice president of design and he’s instituted some discipline, structure and firm scheduling that has been well-received among the designers. The Road Trip sportswear line, targeted at 18 to 24 year olds, continues with design influence from pro climbers Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden. With more focus and less SKUs, the line was still chock-full of new pieces for men and women that are not only style driven but preach a message of sustainability. A featured fabrication is Microbalpaca, an Alpaca knit that’s lightweight, warm and machine washable, and is found in the Rockchuck sweater.

Mountain Hardwear — Retailers said they wanted more winter lifestyle apparel from Mountain Hardwear and the company answered the call. Destined to cause a ruckus, the vintage-looking Commotion jacket is made of tough nylon Herringbone with Malden biomimicry fleece inside the collar and cuffs and 80 gram polyfill. To help it stand out from the crowd, the women’s version has lightly embroidered flowers and bar stripes in dark sage, otter and bone colors with an orange satin liner. Guys get their own version sans flowers in forge, otter and dark sage colors. With jeans on its mind, the company showed off the Laurel Gene for women, the pigment-dyed Sidetrack Gene for men and women, and the Merced Gene for men — an updated work pant in sanded cotton twill.

Nomadic Traders — Nomadic Traders celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with an outstanding line of fashionable tops and bottoms in a range of interesting fabrics like boiled wool, cotton blends, rayon, stretch suedes and twills, cotton ramie blends and silk blends. The Fall Batik collection was particularly appealing in jackets, vests, skirts and pant, wholesale priced from $24 to $44.50. The stretch pinwale corduroy pants, skirt and jackets in washed or frosted finishes looked like fit would never be a problem. Prices ranged from $24.50 to $44 wholesale.

Of the Earth — New fabrics are the news at Of the Earth. The best are French terry, wool/hemp/Tencel fleece and 100-percent organic cotton denim. New styles are the Mandala sweater in hemp and merino wool, the Anthology cardigan in organic cotton and soy, and the Annapurna jacket with an asymmetrical closure in wool/hemp and Tencel. French terry styles of note are the Incognito hoody and the Deepplay skirt and pant. The Boho jean in organic cotton stretch denim is fast! Guys get the Boho jean too and can pair it with some great looking sweaters like the Cascade and the Appalachian Zip Front. The colors in the line are deep and rich, the fabrics warm and soft, and the styling fresh throughout. Jeans range from $65 to $85 wholesale, sweaters $32 to $49, and French terry from $27 to $34.

Ojai — Taking its own twist on fashion for the outdoors, Ojai’s women’s line was heavy on blazers, like the Radiator Down and the Quilted, and were being well-received by retailers from what we saw and heard. Also, response to its women’s jean debut last spring was light, but Ojai will continue to offer them.

Patagonia — For around town, long coats are in as can be witnessed by styles found in Patagonia’s lifestyle line for women. Of note are the Walk in the Parka, a stylish knee-length with 550-fill goose down with curved front closure and embroidery, and the feminine Long Synchilla Windzone jacket, a wind-resistant, thigh-length piece with fleece accents on the neck, cuffs and hem. Three new women’s jean styles are also available — Classic Straight-Leg (men get their own version, too), Low-Rose Bootcut and Loose-Fit — all made using organic cotton denim. Plus, in select men’s styles comes the return of pants in various lengths — short, regular and long.

Prana — Now under the wing of Liz Claiborne, Prana has been given relative autonomy, much like the parent’s other brands, and assistance with sourcing. It’s evident as the organic cotton line expands 86 percent. The men’s line continues to get beefed up with the addition of short and long-sleeve button-down shirts and T-shirts. Especially eye-catching is the Tactic shirt, which has the weight of a jacket for warmth and the styling, but details that wear like a shirt. For women, prints are huge and can be found throughout the line now, like the Vine long-sleeve T-shirt with a fine-lined vine print with flourishes. On the fun side is the women’s pigment-dyed Patch sweater, a military-esque look with feminine touches.

Pure — Pure brings new sweater style to the show with its creative designs that are hand knit in northern Thailand. Handmade coconut buttons and coconut button bonded to hand-punched tin add a distinctive touch to the line. Favorite styles are the hand-loomed Snowflake Button wrap featuring three large coconut buttons and cream stitched detailing, the classic Button wrap available in stripes and solids, and the Shanghai Button wrap with button trim at the hem. Besides wrap styles, there are pullovers, cardigans, cowls, turtlenecks and scarves. Prices range from $14.50 to $55 wholesale.

Royal Robbins — Subtlety seems to be the name of the game as a Royal Robbins spokesperson told us many of its garments aren’t obviously functional outdoor pieces even though they most certainly are. With a new product manager from adidas onboard tapping into Royal’s climbing heritage, more technical components are being infused into the company’s lifestyle apparel. The men’s Jonathan shirt is one example. Made of Outlast fabric, it’s also moisture wicking and offers sun protection, and will even be featured on a PBS special about Outlast.

Spooney — With a motto like “from the bedroom to the world,” how can you lose? When camping or out enjoying any adventure, Spooney founder Cindy Carter always likes her clothes to roll out of the sleeping bag and look ready for action. Newly launched Spooney uses Dri-Release fabric with Freshguard so pieces have a soft hand, resist shrinking and pilling, are quick-drying and neutralize odor. The women’s-only line is straightforward — tanks, T-shirts, loose and fitted pants, Capri and short, a skirt and wrap shirt — with eight bright colors and fun graphics (among them, a single star or old truck with camper). Sizes range from extra small to extra large and are stretchy enough for lots of body types.

Sportif — The Sportif men’s line has been tightened but still retains its focus on organic cotton. Handsome plaids and fleeces are the hallmark of this collection. The Henry jacket, a shirtjac style, and the Taylor Zip-Neck, a rib knit bonded to a fleece back, are winners. Shirts wholesale from $24.50, pants $29.50 and fleeces from $19.50.

Stonewear Designs — With a renewed focus, Stonewear Designs is adding fresh new looks that are active but also fun and stylish. Its fit is evolving thanks to a new pattern maker for tops and pants, and made a huge splash at a consumer yoga conference among plus-size women who found pieces that they could wear. The company is adding more colors than it’s had in the past — one, to make it easier for retailers to merchandise, and two, to work with more women’s complexions. Plus, there were lots of new styles to see, especially in the Element collection. Made of super-soft brushed micropolyester, the Lola hoody was jazzed-up with style lines, a slightly plunging neckline and longer arms with thumb slits. The fitted Bunny Fleece pullover has a unique look with side buttons and a Mandarin-inspired collar in ultra-cozy, Italian fleece. Also new were the Movin’ pant and Capri made of stretch woven nylon/spandex that resist wrinkles and have lots of pockets. Working with HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation, it’s adding ovarian cancer awareness hangtags to all its clothes.

Swiss Army — Despite the fact that the company says its men’s apparel is “staying true to the knife,” many of the pieces had a very New York metro feel to them (or maybe our opinion was swayed by the brooding looks the models had in the catalog). There are two men’s collections for fall — the lifestyle-oriented Highlands and the Davos technical sportswear — with pieces reputed to transition from season-to-season and from the slopes to the city. Also, the long-promised women’s apparel line was getting its finishing touches we were told, but wasn’t available to see at Winter Market. 

The North Face — The North Face has created a collection of long-sleeve T-shirts featuring groups it has partnered with that enhance the outdoor lifestyle or preserve the environment. Featured on this fall’s batch of Partnership Tees are the Wasatch Powder Guides, Ouray Ice Park, Western States Endurance Run, Snowbird ski resort and Telluride’s Mountain Film festival. Shirts are garment dyed, cotton jersey with screen-printed graphics.

Topo Ranch — Not many people can say their ancestors were Donner Party survivors — one of the few families that made it through intact, if you know what we mean. Combining the pioneer sensibilities and historical California ranch details of those ancestors, Eric Hartnak and his business partner Alex Kump said they are striving to create a sophisticated casual outdoor brand for younger customers. College roommates who always dreamed of starting a clothing company, they regrouped after Hartnak’s stints at Patagonia, Old Navy and Zoza and Kump’s time as a graphic designer at Warner Brothers (he still owns a yoga studio in Arizona). With styles for men and women, they describe their designs as simple on the outside and detailed on the inside. On the roster are canvas cotton and fleece jackets, hoodies, knit shirts, pants (canvas and corduroy styles for men only), plus lots of T-shirts with turn-of-the century graphics like a gopher with angel wings.

White Sierra — Shifting its focus, 85 percent of White Sierra’s line is new with the main expansion thrust in its outerwear line (27 new pieces). A few new notables in sportswear are the women’s Full Moon pants made of cotton wale cord and Southbay fleece crew neck top. For guys, check out the oversized-cut Alpine shirt with a cotton/polyester wale Dry Cord blend and Crest jacket made of Tuff Stuff Canvas.

Woolrich — Now that its 175h anniversary has come and gone, what’s next for Woolrich? Company representatives said they are looking at a brand revamp to freshen it up for 2006 that reinforces a casual comfortable lifestyle. Woolrich is also incorporating the red and black square icon into its logo to reflect its heritage, and also sewing the icon into the seam of select jackets. It’s also matching fabrics and colors of accessories to apparel pieces to create an entire ensemble. New for women is the Calera coat, Woolrich’s interpretation of the classic pea coat in a wool/nylon twill blend in blue/white or red/black plaid with a fleece liner. For men, the shirt-jacket continues to be an important piece for the company, offering outerwear appeal and is available in a variety of styles. Woolrich is also doing a lot with textures in men’s shirts.