Unpredictable and dramatically different climates have forever changed the way people get dressed. But outerwear has transitioned from “need to have” to “want to have” as the sector emerges as a true fashion-forward category.
The global jacket and coat market is forecasted to generate around $94.5 billion in retail sales by 2021, up from approximately $81 billion in 2016, according to research by Statista. And that’s why companies such as Blauer are keenly focused on introducing a new style concept – or rather, philosophy – to the outerwear sector.
“Urban protection” is Blauer’s panacea to climate instability, as its new collection, B+PLUS, offers comfort, style and armor for fickle weather, as well as sensible versatility to withstand an array of ever-changing conditions. And in 2020, apparel should be just that: high performing, technical, sleek and modern, as the outerwear industry has advanced and adapted to align with harsh and evolving weather patterns. Sea level rise, ice loss and extreme weather have all increased during 2015 to 2019, which was the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). And greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have increased to record levels, which guarantees decades of a warming trend and erratic weather patterns, the same report noted.
It follows that Blauer is advocating urban protection, as the brand’s roots are in the manufacturing of defensive apparel. Founded in Boston in 1936, Blauer was a technical clothing company, focused on providing uniforms to the police, the navy and other military forces. In 2001, Enzo Fusco, president of apparel firm FGF Industry, signed an agreement with Blauer to introduce the brand to the fashion market. Fifty percent of the brand was acquired by FGF Industry in 2017, and today, Blauer is centered on contemporary looks with a highly technical twist.
And its B+PLUS collection aims to meet expectations of the modern-day shopper: fashionable products that are technical, protective and genderless. B+PLUS will debut at Milano Moda Uomo on January 11, with an open day presentation that introduces its concept of urban protection and emphasizes the brand’s technical capabilities, high quality and performance – and, its debut aligns with FGF Industry’s 20-year anniversary.
With brands such as Blauer, Ten C, BPD and Prince Tees under its umbrella, FGF Industry says it blends its Italian DNA with an international soul, inclusive of far-reaching operations that manage two external logistics firms for distribution, and several partner firms for manufacturing. Fusco, a designer and entrepreneur, has worked for almost 30 years as a design consultant for Italian and international brands such as Kenzo, Versace, Armani, Lancetti, Iceberg, Moschino and Yves Saint Laurent. And as a collector of technical and military garments – whose collection has amassed to over 40,000 pieces – Fusco takes a genuine and creative approach to inspiring designs for Blauer that convey a “metropolitan and cosmopolitan feel.”
Fusco told WWD, “Blauer is a fashion brand that wants to keep America’s outerwear tradition, but at the same time, modernize it. Today, it reinterprets the uniform concept in a fashion sense for its [dynamic] customer base: cosmopolitan, globetrotter men and women eager for an iconic brand that consistently focuses on new fabric research and high-performance materials.”
“B+PLUS is the interpretation of a new urban mobility style that incorporates the latest technical evolutions into Blauer’s heritage. Technical fabrics and innovative solutions are combined to guarantee comfort and protection to urban dwellers in every climate condition. In my opinion, an outerwear item works if it can combine fashion with function.” And its textile technology is trifold: “Generally, we use three-layer technical fabrics taped or glued to make them waterproof, windproof and wear-resistant,” Fusco explained.
Blauer’s urban protection concept is clearly tailored to men and women living in a big metropolis, the company said, adding that “it’s a modern style inspired by the new trends of urban dynamism, that mix the technological evolution and the know-how of a company with more than twenty years of experience in research and production of comfortable, contemporary and high-quality outerwear.”
B+PLUS offers down jackets and overshirts made with “eco fur” and neoprene, inclusive of 13 men’s styles and three women’s and genderless styles. Each product features a “mobile light hole,” or a pocket on the upper-left-hand side of the jacket, covered with a dark lens where a mobile phone or flashlight can be placed for hands-free visibility. The technical details of each jacket were tailored to provide safety, comfort, and water, wind and heat resistance, guaranteeing their efficacy throughout all seasons with style that can be worn with flexibility in urban and outdoor environments.
And color palettes in the collection are offered in monochromatic shades of grey, black and white, each with special details that mix fabrics and reflective pieces. “In the B-PLUS items, we didn’t use fur, but a synthetic microfiber fur collar; and the linings in each jacket are made of recycled down. These fabrics are made in Italy, and they’re very high quality,” Fusco told WWD.
To be adaptable to swiftly changing climatic conditions, the jackets are two-in-one: The three-layered technical fabrics include a Taslan shell and tone-on-tone taped seams, which include the aforementioned removable lining, or layer, made of recycled down that can be worn separately for lighter weather days.
But sustainability is now embedded in Blauer’s approach to outerwear, particularly with its use of recycled fabrics. Fusco told WWD, “Three years ago, FGF Industry began using recycled nylon and recycled down liners with fabric recycled from plastic bottles. Surely in the near future, this trend could also involve other fabrics, such as cotton or cashmere. This is the trend – obviously, we can’t keep using the same colors or fabrics, but if it can help save our planet, it is welcome.”