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OR Snow Show

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '08: Lifestyle apparel trends and products report

As consumers continue to tighten their belts across the country in response to economic challenges, apparel makers addressed conservative buying habits differently for the fall '08 season. Gramicci's Marty Weening said the company approached color and design this season with the consumer's conservative outlook in mind, embracing a more neutral color palette. "Customers want their expectations exceeded. They expect more, but want to pay less," he said. Tami Snow at Horny Toad noted that you have to build a base of colors with neutrals in the mix, but you always need a bright "pop of color" for merchandising and to catch the consumer's attention. Drawing inspiration from the 10th Mountain Division, 70 percent of the company's fall line for men and women was new...

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The SNEWS® trade show reporting team, which was 15 editors strong thanks to the addition of our Backpacker magazine comrades, scampered around the trade show floor over the course of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out or you cry, “Uncle.” No, each report is not complete and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned — we do know you love your company’s product, really. However, we’re only covering product that stood out to us, so if you’re not mentioned we either didn’t think your product stood out sufficiently or we started drinking alcoholic beverages too early in the afternoon to see straight and missed you as a result — you pick one. With that in mind, here’s our take on trends and new products for Lifestyle Apparel:

As consumers continue to tighten their belts across the country in response to economic challenges, apparel makers addressed conservative buying habits differently for the fall ’08 season.

Gramicci’s Marty Weening said the company approached color and design this season with the consumer’s conservative outlook in mind, embracing a more neutral color palette. “Customers want their expectations exceeded. They expect more, but want to pay less,” he said.

Tami Snow at Horny Toad noted that you have to build a base of colors with neutrals in the mix, but you always need a bright “pop of color” for merchandising and to catch the consumer’s attention. Drawing inspiration from the 10th Mountain Division, 70 percent of the company’s fall line for men and women was new.

Ojai’s Annelle Beebe said now is the time to be daring. Consumers have the basics covered in their closet and they need some interest despite the dip in the economy. “There’s still money to be spent,” she told SNEWS®. “Women are looking for new and different. You have to keep something interesting in stores to draw them in. You can’t give up without a fight.”

Reviewing apparel makers fall ’08 collections, SNEWS® noticed more “art” embroidery, interesting graphic treatments, and much more attention to detail on tops, bottoms and jackets.

What’s new

>> On the green front

ExOfficio is adding even more environmentally friendly fabrics in fall ’08, blending its increasingly popular recycled polyester and soy knits with other textiles. It’s introduced Eco-poly into men’s wovens and a second layer for men and women, and has expanded it further into its travel and outerwear programs. ExO is blending soy with wool and cashmere into cable knit collections, like the soy/wool Soy’r ¼ Zip pullover for men (MSRP $85) and the soy/cashmere SoyLux Scoop shirt for women (MSRP $80). Soy’s also being combined with ExO Dri in the Dualformance line for men and women.

White Sierra continues its push into eco-friendly waters by expanding the Happy Planet eco fabrics into more pieces with plans to extend them into the company’s larger collections. Prana remains dedicated to the eco movement with 90 to 100 organic pieces in the fall ’08 line and the company told us it will continue to up its quota each season.

Gramicci‘s Greenicci line continues to grow with organic cotton, hemp and recycled materials, representing 30 percent of the company’s overall business. And, Timberland told us that all the tees in its line are organic cotton.

>> Dialing in fit

Getting the fit just right in women’s pants can be as elusive as tracking a jackalope. Companies like Mountain Khakis and Cloudveil told SNEWS® they have been fine-tuning fit on women’s offerings.

Mountain Khakis worked with a female designer from Tasso Designs to revise the fit on three women’s pants for fall ’08 — Teton Twill, Alpine and Cottonwood Cord — by streamlining the fit in the hip and the rise and adding a contoured waistband. The Teton Twill and Alpine pants also have a fixed waistband and modified stitch lines for a more flattering and feminine look. For spring ’09, the company is working on fit revisions for its other women’s styles including the Village skirt and Cargo capri.

Since it’s not necessarily obvious to the naked eye that changes have been made, Mountain Khakis is working with an agency to re-brand the women’s logo treatment, women’s hangtag and merchandising direction/materials for dealers in time for delivery in August.

>> Men at work

Blue-collar workers are starting to accept techy textiles in their workwear from Carhartt and newcomer Alaskan Hardgear.

Workwear denizen Carhartt has expanded its offerings in the last two seasons to include soft shell, quick-drying and antimicrobial textiles, and waterproof/breathable laminates. In addition to the traditional cotton canvas jackets, retailers are also bringing in the Soft Shell Detroit jacket and ringing up extra sales as workers buy both the traditional and new fabrication styles.

New on the workwear scene is Alaskan Hardgear. Started by two former Polartec guys, their goal is to incorporate high-tech fabric technology into bib overalls (MSRP $110-$129), jackets (MSRP $85-$99), vests (MSRP $49-$55) and sweatshirts (MSRP $45-$59) to fill a void they see in the workwear market. They told SNEWS® that the company’s offerings are twice as durable as the traditional cotton found in competitor’s overalls, are water repellent thanks to a Teflon coating, and have reinforced knees made with Cordura for more abrasion resistance. They told us they’re attracting “the young guys who want to look different.” The company has two weights — 200 gram and 400 gram — in most pieces and a range of sizes up to 3XL.

The top half

>> Jackets

Technical fabrics were blended with stylish looks in this season’s jacket offerings. Bells and whistles normally found on outerwear, like drawcord hems and removable powder skirts, were popping up on lifestyle jackets. Shawl collars on jackets and sweaters were also big.

Companies were embracing the 3-in-1 jacket concept. Patagonia debuted its first-ever 3-in-1 jacket — the men’s Isotope, a short trench style with zip-in vest. Its shell has an H2No waterproof/breathable barrier and Deluge DWR finish, as well as 90-percent recycled content insulation. More of a lifestyle piece, the Isotope (MSRP $300) has a clean style and cross dye in the fabric. Carhartt’s 3-in-1 waterproof breathable jacket has a zip-in vest and waterproof/breathable parka shell. Part of its new performance tech line called the Mountain Collection, Lole had its own spin on the 3-in-1 jacket with the insulated Cloudy 3/4-length parka with zip-in/zip-out lining and waterproof/breathable outer shell.

Timberland took its design team to St. Petersburg, Russia, for extensive R&D in cold temps. Available for men and women, the Builderchill insulated jacket (MSRP $130) has a city look with performance features — like stretch panels at the shoulder blade, armhole and elbow seams for additional range of motion. The outer is a conventional cotton canvas with a quilted interior made of 50-percent recycled polyester insulation.

Answering the call from consumers looking for “something different from us,” Isis debuted the Mirabelle jacket (MSRP $169) in buttery-soft faux suede and shearling liner. Very un-Isis-like, the jacket hangs past the waist, has a high collar and a flappy, draped front when not buttoned. With decorative topstitching, it offers an updated and upscale fashionable performance piece to the active woman’s wardrobe.

With new parent Prana onboard, Scapegoat was able to debut its women’s collection and expand its men’s collection for fall ’08. Company designers said the women’s collection of eight jackets embodies the same characteristics and details seen in the men’s line including patterned-to-move silhouettes. Materials include PrimaLoft Eco insulation, Bone Dry Barrier waterproof/breathable laminate, Bemis Sewfree abrasion film and YKK Excella zippers. Each jacket was different from the next and provided its own uniqueness. Catching our eye was the Village trench (MSRP $325) with stitching detail on the outer shell, zippered cuffs, belted waist and concealed magnetic collar closure, as well as the Burnside two-layer jacket (MSRP $295). For men, the Almanac (MSRP $395), a technical and heavier insulated jacket, is a can’t miss.

Filson is shipping its first women’s line of shorts, pants, shirts and jackets this spring. But it’s the line for fall 2008 that puts Filson women’s line on the map. Looking good are the women’s Cedar jacket, a ¾-length with a snap front closure in an oil finish (MSRP $180), and the Wool Timber jacket in 100-percent virgin Mackinaw wool with asymmetrical collar and multiple front pockets (MSRP $190).

White Sierra‘s fall ’08 line was 30-percent larger than last year, expanding its outerwear and outdoor offerings, as well as the youth program. It’s going after a younger audience, the snowboard crowd, with graphics, embroidery and screen-printing on jackets.

The Jeb jacket from Topo Ranch in organic-cotton jacquard herringbone is a cool look with its candy stripe liner, full zip and set on pockets for $98 retail. Ibex’s Pez jacket has a full front zip, handwarmer pockets and contrast collar stripe inset at the back (MSRP $155).

SmartWool’s fall/winter ’08 expanded apparel line displayed a retro style that coordinated with the company’s base layers and sock lines. Notable among the jackets was the stylish Chimney (MSRP $200) featuring a boiled wool body with rib-knit sleeves, leather-trimmed welted pockets and oversized hood.

Indigenous Designs’ women’s styles worth noting were the Sidewinder Zip jacket with iPod pocket (MSRP $156) and Black Diamond pullover (MSRP $136) with contrasting sleeve stripes and embroidery on the back. Guys get the On Deck hoodie in great colors with contrasting stitching (MSRP $180).

We also liked Mission Playground’s SweetPea jacket, a ¾-length button front jacket in hemp/poly and spandex. Embroidered art at the front pocket and back shoulder make this jacket (MSRP $150) both wearable and chic. For the ladies, the Kumara sweater (MSRP $125) with contrast ribbed sleeve cuffs and collar, shoulder patch and screen printed lower art on the front shoulder.

In a lifestyle or yoga mode, Dude Girl’s new Blaze jacket in French terry made from soy and organic cotton had a great look and hand. Available in a yummy pistachio color (MSRP $112).

With tunic lengths becoming more and more popular, Ibex’s women’s NZP mid-thigh length jacket with ultra-soft merino inside collar is sure to be popular even at $250 retail. A great-looking men’s style is the Rhythm shirt in New Zealand merino boucle (MSRP $125) with a zippered chest pocket and 1 1/8-inch collar height. It comes in the rich colors of chrome blue heather, black, dark blackberry heather and green heather.

And now for something a little different: Merrell Apparel’s latest “concept” piece is the Gatherer jacket, a nylon shell with DWR finish. With various pockets on the body and sleeves, wearers can stuff it with any type of material — shredded paper, leaves, pillow stuffing, etc. — to adjust their temperature to surrounding conditions or make a unique fashion statement. Available in men’s and women’s sizing in white with orange zippers, the Gatherer (MSRP $99) is packaged with a matching bag it squishes down into.

>> Hoodies

Hoodies are more popular than ever for both men and women.

Part of Woolrich’s core and traditional main line, the Hawk Run Hoodie (MSRP $60) for men looks appealing for young guys and the more mature set with a ramie/cotton blend and a soft jersey knit. Horny Toad‘s Andrea and Claude hooded sweatshirts boast the company’s VooDoo cotton/poly/spandex material and a “lounge” fit. Also for men, Gramicci’s Wave Watch hoodie has a soft micro fleece lining with a plaid flannel heavy-weight outer.

For women, Prana‘s Alana velour hooded cardigan had a seam below the breasts for a more fitted look and gives the wearer shape, while its Zoe hoodie in organic cotton had a deep V-neck with appliqué and embroidery detail.

Also check out the boiled-wool Lena hoodie (MSRP $89) from Neve Designs in its Sun Valley collection. Colors include periwinkle, chocolate, charcoal and wine. The sweater-maker has expanded its line with more Nordic and new Asian-inspired designs and also expanded the men’s collection.

Stonewear Designs’ new Nimble Caftan hoodie (MSRP $70) in a soft French stretch terry is great paired with the Nimble short (MSRP $58) in the same stretch terry. Both are great travel pieces that look good no matter where the wearer finds herself.

A new exhibitor at Winter Market, Lake Girl offers classic styling in its Zip hoodie with “Lake Girl” appliquéd letters (MSRP $56). Made to be merchandised in groups by color and with the company’s caps and bags, the Pink Parfait collection of hoodies, shirts and accessories in pinks and whites and the American collection in red, white and blue colorways create interest.

Based in Iceland, 66 Degrees North designs apparel inspired by the landscape and people of its country. It’s not uncommon to hear, “If you don’t like the weather right now, just wait five minutes,” and wearing the stylish Mosfell hooded sweaters (MSRP $180) seems like they could make any cold-weather day bearable. Available for men and women, the hoodies are made with Polartec Thermal Pro Velour High Loft fabric, a highly breathable fabric that maximizes warmth and compressibility without adding weight. With a form-fitting hood and articulated elbows — a company design staple — for freedom of movement, the men’s version has a zipped neck for ventilation, while the women’s has a high crossover neck line and thumb holes at the cuffs.

Showing off its third fall/winter line, Carve Designs’ designers are surfers who create their own product for normal-sized women. Good crossover pieces for hiking, yoga and après-sports, it had a host of new hoodies, including the Tam Plush cardigan made of super-soft plush sherpani fleece with a polyester outer and hood.

Companies were also marrying the hoodie with a vest body. Royal Robbins offered the women’s Camiri hoodie vest with a ribbed wool blend outer for texture and a brushed inner lining for softness. Scapegoat‘s Sadie (MSRP $225) is an insulator for core warmth, but has plenty of lifestyle style. Available in black, sugarplum and lavender, it has 60 grams of Primaloft Eco insulation and rib-knit lined hand pockets. Ibex is using the new Zque merino wool in fabulous new styles like the women’s PZ Reversible hooded vest (MSRP $135), semi-fitted and reversible from warm gray to black or black berry to black.

A best new style from Aventura included the Channing wrap sweater (MSRP $79) in organic cotton. Wear it loose or tied at the hip for a great look.

For guys, one of the best new pieces from Mission Playground is the Usher Hoody (MSRP $60) in organic cotton thermal, reverse cover stitch pockets, hood gusset and embroidered armband art.

>> Shirts

Textures still rule, as well as mixed media — print, embroidery, overlays, appliques. For women, burnouts still popped up in Prana and Ojai shirts, as well as more tunic length tops.

The knit polos at Topo Ranch were standouts particularly the Lookout polo with its sueded finish, two-color micro stripe repeat on the body, solid arms and western back yoke and ribbed collar and cuffs (MSRP $72). The company’s line of graphic tees has too many cool designs to mention.

Canaima Outdoors was a new exhibitor at the show from Venezuela with a line of warm weather and travel clothing for men and women in 100-percent nylon styles for men and women with a twist — fit twist. Favorites were the mesh-vented Amihan shirt (MSRP $35) for women in guava and lavender and Tsavo Capri (MSRP $38) in granite and sand. For men, the Bora ($43 retail) shirt stands out as a simple lightweight nylon shirting for street or trail in dark sand and sea blue.

Styles in a new Tencel/alpaca/wool fabric from Indigenous Designs looked great especially the women’s Eclipse V-neck with college striping on the sleeve and waist darts in contrasting color (MSRP $104). Ibex‘s Juliet jacquard knit top has a 2 ½-inch collar height and shaped sleeve cuff detail — nice looking in multi gray argyle (MSRP $130). New women’s styles from Mission Playground are the Sophie top (MSRP $110) of merino wool and spandex with an interesting tie feature at the neck front in black or chocolate.

DudeGirl‘s line looked better than ever from its performance collection to its lifestyle soft and comfy styles. Outstanding are the Performance Chickatee long sleeve tops (MSRP $58) in CoolFit with small yellow chicks next to the words “Mtn,” “Runr,” “H2O” or “Snow.” LakeGirl‘s Inside Out Tee in 100-percent pre-shrunk cotton is a slim-fitting tee with appliquéd Lake Girl chenille letters in both short sleeve and long sleeve versions (MSRP $32-$34).

Kavu’s new men’s Bambsterdam shirt (MSRP $60), a blend of organic cotton and bamboo, has simple styling, dye-to-match buttons and straight hem. Another winning men’s shirt is the long-sleeved Bamboo polo (MSRP $60) with its angled shoulder seam and color blocking with cover stitch detailing — cool and comfortable.

Known for its sweaters, Neve Designs debuted the new Prima Belle collection (MSRP $30-$49) of lightweight fine-gauge knits meant for body-hugging applications, like base layers, lounge or around-town wear. Blends of silk, merino wool and Lycra, tops are available in henley, crew and mock turtle necklines in a variety of solids, prints and stripes. Bottoms are also available.

Yes indeed, there were lots of thermals from the likes of Prana, Aventura and Ojai. Aventura‘s new burnout thermal fabric was well translated into the attractive Ashby crew (MSRP $45) and the Ashby hoodie (MSRP $49) in white, cord green and winter sky.

Stonewear Designs‘ Ramblin’ top (MSRP $50), with its contrasting color and decorative stitching at the neck, is comfortable and smart. The jewel tone color selection and interesting cream and black print gives buyers wide choice.

Kavu‘s women’s Piper pullover (MSRP $85) and Thea throw (MSRP $80) are made of soy fleece and both have high collars. The Piper is a hooded pullover with an asymmetrical zip neck. The Thea features large coconut buttons at the collar and princess seaming.

The bottom half

>> Pants

A variety of companies are trying their hand at jeans. Cords were definitely having their day too.

Mountain Khakis is expanding its pants offerings to include jeans for men. Made of 12.5-ounce denim fabric constructed with organic cotton fibers, the Original Mountain jean (MSRP $95) blends fit and design features from both the Alpine Utility pant and Original Mountain pant with traditional jean elements.

Prana offered the ladies the Organic jean made of organic cotton with a splash of Lycra for two-way stretch, while the new Branson jean for men boasted a regular fit and is 100-percent organic cotton.

Cloudveil said its lifestyle line is a category it has focused a lot of attention for both men’s and women’s, in an effort to even out the seasonality of the business. It also added the Wilson jean (MSRP $90) for men and women, made of organic cotton with western design cues.

Hard to believe, but Patagonia debuted its first-ever cargo pant for men after continual consumer demand. Available in wildwood, retro khaki and gravel colors, the Twill Cargo pant (MSRP $80) is made of 9.2-ounce organic cotton twill.

Kavu‘s new Long Haul pant (MSRP $70) is constructed of the company’s High Plains cord, an interesting cord weave with its signature mountain wash and tumble that gives the fabric a unique two-tone coloration.

The piece de resistance from Stonewear Designs is the new Palazzo pant (MSRP $70), a wide-leg pant with a 3-inch waistband that looks good at the yoga studio or a fancy restaurant. Deep cuts from below the knee to the hem bottom add a flash of “sexy” to the style.

>> Skirts

Many lines had knee-length skirts in the mix with paneled construction for a design flourish. Fleece and cords were popular fabric choices.

Horny Toad’s Enola tweed skirt has an A-line cut, raw edge twill detail on seams and waistband, and comes in coffee, plum and black. Also check out its Niav wrap dress with raw edge detail, shirring on shoulder seam and length just below the knee. It’s made of cotton jersey with slub yarns in black, port and brown.

Woolrich‘s Holly Hills stretch corduroy skirt — knee-length with front welt pockets –looks like your favorite pair of cord pants converted into a skirt (MSRP $50). Isis was also dipping into the corduroy waters for the first time with a material developed in France and available in a skirt and jacket. And, its below-the-knee Sally skirt (MSRP $69) was made of fleece with a laser-cut design.

Ojai‘s Voyager skirt (MSRP $45) is a blend of cotton/polyester/spandex with a rolled-over waist and stitching detail in espresso, oatmeal, rose wine and black.