Twice a year, Salt Lake City, Utah holds an enormous trade show called Outdoor Retailer where companies can showcase new gear that will appear in stores fall 2016. As media, I get the opportunity to take it all in, attending events, demoing gear, and meeting with retailers to get the scoop on what’s new.
This year I specifically searched for what was new for women in the outdoors. I am happy to report that I am pleased at the advances in women’s specific gear.
Making Progress for Women at Outdoor Retailer
Many meetings I had discussed this. You may have heard the term: ‘pink it and shrink it’, meaning companies had a tendency to take men’s clothing, for example, and simply make a smaller and girlier looking version. Sometimes the women’s version didn’t even perform as well as the men’s, not even accounting for the actual fit of the garment, which just didn’t translate to fit a woman’s figure.
This year I noticed a change in the right direction. Some of the companies I met with were featuring new gear that was made by women and specifically to fit right.
High Performance + Style
The other trend I noticed at the show was styling technical/alpine/performance wear with more fashion forward styling. Why is this important? Not only can an avid hiker buy one jacket, for example, that can take you from the mountains to your favorite restaurant, but others can too.
Think about the North Face Denali Jacket craze. Every college girl had one. It may still be a thing, but I’m out of the loop now! Thought this fleece jacket was made by a company that makes great technical gear, it’s not a good option for technical pursuits. Why? It’s rather bulky and heavy, isn’t breathable, and is ill fitting for aerobic activities.
But what if there was a jacket that worked well for hiking and looked good? Those tight on money or looking to scale back on possessions may be able to buy one item that multi-tasked not only between sports or activities but lifestyles as well. If clothing can take you from the train to a mountain and to your favorite restaurant, more people would be more apt to get outside more. One of the biggest pitfalls of hiking and backpacking is the initial expense of buying gear. If you already have a typically larger ticket item (like a down jacket) you’re one step closer to hitting the trail.
The biggest hurdle will be actually testing gear to see how well it performs and not just how it looks.
The other trend I saw was a mix of subtle shades of greens, browns, and greys with vibrant jewel tones and pops of neon; a little different when it comes to the typical winter apparel colors.
This year I attended the Pushing the Limits fashion show at Outdoor Retailer. The looks in the show are put together by PROMOSTYL, a trend agency. There’s a lot that goes into creating next year’s trends, but influences from social media (colors and styles used on platforms like Instagram) as well as political and environmental change (trending to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly) are two that are heavily involved in predicting trends in the outdoor industry.
The show mixes technical apparel with lifestyle pieces so each model typically had a piece of clothing that would be used in, say, mountaineering or skiing with heels or fashion-forward dress. Overall it was an interesting event to attend and I’m curious to see how accurate this trend prediction is for fall/winter 2016.
Overall, I think we’re heading in a great direction. Keep an eye out for a follow up post on some of my favorite new items from the Outdoor Retailer show for women in the next couple of days!