As ath-leisure and outdoorwear have become mainstays for the adventurous urbanite, brands are responding with new products that tap into the latest textile technologies as well as product design science.
The resurgence of outdoorwear is driven by a consumer desire for utility products, which is helping to boost a “recreation economy” that sees over $887 billion in consumer spending annually. The experience or recreation economy segment outplays pharmaceutical, education, gasoline and fuel spending combined, according to a report by the Outdoor Industry Association.
One brand leveraging the trend is Nobis, a Toronto-based luxury outerwear and accessories company that targets urban adventurers in need of a reprieve from the city by offering transitional apparel that can be worn from the office to the outdoors. The brand incorporates performance and proprietary technology that allows its products to achieve optimal utility. The word Nobis, Latin for “us,” caters to the universal, unspoken needs of consumers.
“I honestly feel that ‘urban adventurers’ speaks to all of us now,” explained Robin Yates, a co-founder and vice president at Nobis. “The basic foundation for Nobis was to exceed the expectation of the premium outerwear consumers’ purchase experience. Eleven years ago we decided to pioneer the evolution of fashion forward but functional outerwear and accessories.”
Yates’ past experience in the industry led him to create a line of “consumer-first” luxury products that are both aesthetic and utilitarian. “The industry has long abandoned a product first type of experience for this category and it [had become] smoke and mirrors and brand-focused,” he said. “I can’t take much credit for doing anything but listening to my former consumers,” Yates told WWD.
Based on consumer demand and insights, Yates intentionally designed Nobis apparel with magnetic closure flaps in lieu of Velcro. “We removed as much Velcro as possible in the jackets because of the negativity associated with Velcro when it comes to finer sweaters and scarves and its abrasiveness and difficulty in general,” he said. Perhaps most notable is the use of Canadian-origin white duck down.
Yates told WWD, “The poultry industry in Canada has a much longer life cycle for the ducks prior to the harvest so that you get a larger cluster of down from an animal that exists in a cold weather environment and so we can achieve superior insulation with less physical weight in the garment.” Its Canadian white duck down is noted for its fuller cluster and higher loft, which yields superior warmth.
Nobis also incorporates technical features such as pit-zip ventilation and breathable down-proof free-hanging linings, which prevent the migration of down by-product and creates a “warm-air environment” within the jacket. Two-way zippers, interior zip and hand-warmer pockets, double-drawstring toggle hoods, elastic rib cuffs with thumb hole openings, moldable framing wire around fur hoods and cuffs and removable pieces from the jackets allow for versatility as well as seasonal adjustment.
This all empowers the consumer to mend the product to their liking. “I’m definitely a function-specific guy, but I don’t like to compromise the fashion ability of a garment. The same jacket I use for ice fishing I’ve also worn when hosting editors,” Yates told WWD.
Its Sympatex membrane lamination is designed to combat harsh climates. The textile’s seemingly impenetrable exterior regulates environments’ temperatures while maintaining breathability and performs on a basis of osmosis. Further, its “seam seal construction” is an application of Sympatex branded tape to all major seams, which allows for maximum waterproof protection. Its durable water repellent also repels moisture and significantly minimizes water absorption. As a result, all Nobis jackets are durable, water repellent coated and laminated. The brand’s “Embrace” membrane is what makes its products windproof, waterproof and breathable.
Nobis’ proprietary fabrics are engineered by Brookwood Cos. Inc., an integrated textile firm based in New York City that specializes in performance textiles.
“We really relish in the fact that we created a product that really does what it needs to do when it needs to do it, and that’s regarding whether it looks good or feels good, Yates told WWD, adding that “building [apparel] for the city that you can wear anywhere is a huge accomplishment for us.”
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