With the selling season for spring and summer 2013 starting well before the trade expo opens its four-day run today at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Outdoor Retailer has developed into a showcase for brands to trot out their latest innovations to make outdoor apparel cooler, lighter, airier and just all around better. Retailers and brands are hoping the spate of breakthroughs will convince consumers they should freshen up their outdoor wardrobes.
“There’s a lot of technology in sportswear and outerwear for moisture management, keeping cooler longer and faster. That technology is coming from everyone: North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, etc.,” said Sean Colin, men’s apparel buyer for the outdoor group at e-tailer Backcountry.com. “Seeing everyone’s take on that technology and its evolution is interesting, and I’m interested to see how it’s utilized in sportswear.”
Colin isn’t likely to be disappointed by the range of technology launches in apparel at Outdoor Retailer. Columbia Sportswear is among the brands leading the pack. “There have been a lot of technological advancements, but they have been mostly in equipment, and I think about how you bring that kind of excitement to apparel,” said Adrienne Moser, the company’s vice president of apparel and design. “We believe our innovation message is a reason for consumers to come in and buy a new shirt.”
Columbia Sportswear’s latest advancement is a cooling polymer it has dubbed Omni-Freeze Zero, which took four years to perfect. Omni-Freeze Zero will be available in 40 pieces, including performance layering, headwear and footwear items. It appears as small blue circles on fabric that generate a cooling effect triggered by sweat.
“It creates an immediate reaction. Everybody can feel the technology,” said Moser, who added, “So far, it has been incredibly well received globally.”
Moser believes Omni-Freeze Zero items are a natural fit for regions in which the temperatures are hot year-round, but she said she’s been surprised by the positive reception in countries known for colder climates — Canada, for instance — where retailers are scooping up the items for customers to layer under warm pieces, such as hockey uniforms or heavy workwear.
Somewhat counterintuitively, Patagonia is releasing its warmest jacket and pants for spring. The brand has completely redesigned its DAS parka by putting two insulation technologies — the so-called PrimaLoft Synergy and PrimaLoft One — together in the jacket. The DAS pants are insulated with PrimaLoft One as well. Patagonia is “coming out with them in the spring season to support the idea that true alpinists are in the mountains and cold and needing products like this year-round,” said Patagonia spokeswoman Jess Clayton.
Another big launch for Patagonia is a collection of eight boardshorts in 45 colors and prints. They feature a mechanical stretch fabric, instead of spandex, to increase their life spans. “We look at our boardshorts truly as a tool for surfing. They are not a fashion piece for us. They need to withstand years and years of surfing,” said Clayton.
Rab, an English brand that’s been Stateside for six years and is traditionally strong in the winter, continues to make inroads into the spring and summer. It is releasing two jackets — the Viper and the Maverick — that contain eVent DVL, a permeable, waterproof membrane. “We wanted to make a breathable yet lightweight rain shell for people who are climbing and backpacking in really warm conditions but where it’s rainy,” said Rab USA marketing manager Samantha Killgore.
At the last edition of Outdoor Retailer, The North Face’s FlashDry made its debut. For the upcoming edition of the show, The North Face has extended the technology, which is driven by porous particles that quicken drying time, to mountain-biking clothing. More generally, the brand is dipping its toes into men’s training clothing for spring before coming out with a much larger presentation for fall 2013.
“We are teeing ourselves up to do training in a much larger way,” said North Face spokeswoman Jessica Lange. “A lot of our athletes, they need stuff to wear when they are not actually doing their sport and are doing workouts to build muscle and endurance.”
It remains to be seen if new apparel technologies will spur spring and summer outdoor-apparel shoppers to buy. Although spring and summer are important for business at many outdoor brands — Columbia Sportswear, for example, registered nearly half of its annual sales in the second and third quarters of 2010 and 2011 — David Mudd, business intelligence manager at the Outdoor Industry Association, doesn’t think buying habits in the outdoor apparel sector will shift much to the warmer months. “I just honestly think the holiday season will always have the highest in sales. It’s hard to imagine anything eclipsing that,” he said.
For spring and summer 2013, the recent snow-deprived winter could play a major role in how stores stock their shelves. At Madison Heights, Mich.-based retailer Moosejaw, men’s wear buyer Erica Draper said the poor winter “hurt our first-quarter business. It will make us cautious, but we hope that this year it’ll just pour on us after having no snow last year.” Killgore reasoned, “Because we had the bad winter, a lot of shops are sitting on product that they had for winter and closing out what they had for summer rather than bringing in new stuff. That could have an impact on our overall sales for summer.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)