SALOMON READY TO SUIT UP
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Salomon is trying to keep customers warm and cool-looking on and off the slopes.
As the maker of skis and snowboards, the company considers its move into apparel to be a natural progression for the brand. For the first time, Salomon will offer technical apparel this fall.
Lisa Vinciguerra, apparel category manager for Salomon, said: “For years, we’ve made toys for people to get out there and perform in. Now, we’re giving them the clothes to use those toys and to stay out there longer in.”
Forward and innovative, the finished product looks Space Age-inspired with a slight nod to skiers in Innsbruck, Austria, circa 1950. Salomon has gone all out, tapping Schoeller, W.L. Gore & Associates and X-Static for performance fabrics.
Evan Josloff, senior buyer for Blades Board & Skate Shop, a 16-unit East Coast chain, said, “It’s so far out that it’s almost retro skiwear with technical aspects. It’s a big leap from where things are right now.”
The brand is targeting snowboarders, skiers, freeskiers and other “freedom-action-sports athletes” between the ages of 18 and 34. That age group tends to set trends for teenagers and also spurs baby boomers to try new directions, Vinciguerra said.
That might explain some of the more imaginative names in the color palette like baltic, space, femur and titanium. Translation: blue, black, bone and silver.
The women’s collection is expected to generate $1.2 million in first-year wholesale volume. Items will retail from $69 for a scoop-neck X-Static top to $429 for a three-ply eVENT jacket. Zip-off contour hoods with visors, insulated collars, concealed zippers and cuffs with Velcro tabs to attach gloves are among the special features. The brand is backing up its new line with a lifetime guarantee.
Marcus Rindle heads up the design team in Boulder, Colo., where people actually ride mountain bikes on mountains and have rock-climbing races. Hints of his former post as designer for BMW’s motorcycle apparel are evident in Salomon’s durable, stretch fabrics, articulated elbows and knees and motorcycle cuffs.
Before sitting down to design the line, Salomon quizzed elite athletes and retailers to see what more they want their clothes to do. The brand then zoned in on three areas — body comfort, motion fit and climate, Vinciguerra said.
Trying to maintain the wearer’s normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees and keeping perspiration away from the skin were priorities.
“The less energy you spend regulating your core temperature, the more energy you will conserve for your sport,” Vinciguerra explained.
For its STL (Soft Technical Layer), Salomon is using Schoeller’s WB400, a water-resistant, breathable acrylate protective layer with a fleece layer and Cordura surface for jackets and pants. There are also vests and jackets made with a mini-twill face and Primaloft insulation.
First Skin is a base layer made of X-Static — an antibacterial, silver-coated, moisture management fabric that was developed for the medical industry to treat burn victims. For its Extended First Skin group, Salomon uses Gore’s Windstopper Next to Skin fabric for pants, zip-neck pullovers and crewneck tops.
Salomon’s Shell System consists of jackets and pants made from eVENT and Gore XCR. Designed to protect athletes from severe weather conditions, a three-ply jacket with a stretch powder skirt has a radio pocket, adjustable cuffs, cross-vent zippers “for dumping air” and “Napoleon pockets” to give back country skiers easy access without removing their backpacks.
Retailer Josloff described the collection as “pretty stealth, very technical and definitely a storyteller.” Salomon’s molded jackets and pants were “amazing,” he said.
“It’s almost like a runway presentation, which needs to be interpreted for shoppers,” he said. “From a fashion standpoint, it’s very refreshing.”
Connie Lashley, apparel buyer for Princeton Sports & Travel, a two-store operation in Maryland, said Salomon is “definitely something we’re considering.”
“It’s probably some of the most innovative stuff we’ve seen for women,” she said. “It’s nice to see women’s pieces with the same technical features as men’s without sacrificing style.”
Lashley said she liked the items made with X-Static, which until now has been used primarily for socks. She also liked feminine, insulated looks, which were a step up from “downsized” men’s styles of the past.
Freeskier Sarah Burke, a Salomon-sponsored athlete, said she liked the jacket with the lined collar, especially during chilly chairlift rides. She also praised the brand’s new Primaloft pants as being similar “to wearing a blanket.”
Sha Cohen, buyer and merchandise manager for Ute Mountaineer, a specialty store in Aspen, Colo., said he liked the use of eVENT, offset zippers, good colors, bonded seams and bonded wool.
“Some of their stuff looks like nothing in the market,” he said. “Whether that’s what people want, I haven’t figured out yet.”