The spirit of the ’60s meets the new millennium as more skiers and riders seek freedom in the hills. This cultural shift is reflected in snow sports apparel. Today’s youth is rejecting baggy, grunge style in favor of cleaner aesthetics and slimmer-fitting winter outerwear. Conversely, touring apparel, once identifiable by tight-fit- ting silhouettes, now has a more relaxed fit.
Next season’s ski apparel is a melting pot of highly technical fabrics and insulations, earth tones and bright pops, inventive ergonomic features, and a focus on freedom of movement. And the outerwear landscape continues to diversify as more hardgoods companies are getting into the apparel game.
SIA market research indicates that down jacket sales continue to swell. There will be no shortage of both goose and synthetic down on the Show floor. Look for innovations in insulated jackets, which can be billed as midlayer or standalone pieces. For high aerobic activities, companies such as Marmot and KJUS use Polartec’s Alpha Insulation, a honeycomb construction originally developed for U.S. Special Ops. Early adopter Marmot integrates Alpha into more pieces, including down jackets, for 2014-15. And look for new exhibitor Strafe, based out of Aspen, Colo., to debut its Gamma Ray Jacket with Alpha insulation at the Show.
PrimaLoft introduces Down Blend Gold and Silver, a blend of goose down and Primaloft’s water-repellent synthetic down, which is processed without the use of fluorocarbons. La Sportiva uses Primaloft’s Spirex in several styles for its lightweight and breathable properties. The company introduces new styles in its light down series, which features 850 fill goose down in the core and hood and hydrophobic Coreloft synthetic insulation at the collar, underarms, and hem, where moisture builds up.
The Future of Fabrics
The growing sales of backcountry gear continue to drive in- novation in technical fabrics, which are getting softer, lighter, and more durable. Gore-Tex’s new Pro Technology increases durability and breathability of technical shells and appears next season in outerwear by Mammut, The North Face, and Marmot. Stretchy fabrics and construction elements like Salomon’s MotionFit technology, a specific patterning in the outerwear, allow for more freedom of movement.
Not only are fabrics be- coming more weatherproof, but they provide a canvas as well. According to Brook Barney, Descente North America’s brand marketing and PR director, “it’s becoming more common to change the design element by creating uniqueness within the use of two fabrics, such as wool and leather.” Spyder adds Kevlar to the shoulder and elbows of the four-way stretch material on the Icon jacket for a moto-inspired look. Fera adds wool and leather-like details to jackets for textural interest, and The North Face introduces FuseForm technology into jackets like the Brigadine. FuseForm is a special weaving process that merges extra durable yarn in strategic areas into a single fabric, reducing fabric waste and the need for seams.
Planet on Palette
Earth and neutral tones are the backbone for many palettes this season, but with bursts of bright color. “Richer colors are still trending, but they’re more mature,” says Philip Tavell, global category manager for Helly Hansen’s wintersport line. Helly Hansen adds colors such as single malt for women and Bordeaux for men. Obermeyer adds a little neon for pop to its mostly neutral color way. VÖlkl Performance Wear pairs bright colors with earth tones in its Super High Performance Big Mountain Pro collection.
Armada’s new Balfour Gore-Tex Pro 3L Jacket is the first Gore-Tex Pro jacket to feature a print pattern; it has camo at the sleeves. “One trend we see is an anti-tech trend,” says Jeff Russell, director of product development for Armada. “Twenty-somethings don’t want traditional jackets. They want something that represents their lifestyle, like a hoody or flannel, but with real weather protection.”
Utilizing inventive design features, Descente’s Turtle Jack- et has a built-in backpack with a hidden pack cover. Patagonia studied ergonomics to make its outerwear more utilitarian for an increasingly adventurous user, according to Glen Morden, senior snowsports and surf designer at the company. The redesigned PowSlayer Jacket and Bib features lowered pockets and angled zippers to work better with packs and avalanche gear. Flylow’s redesigned three-layer waterproof-breathable Quantum Pro Jacket caters to serious skiers with waterproof pockets, zippers, and a helmet-compatible hood.
Hardgoods Companies Offer Apparel
Following in the footsteps of Armada, Salomon, VÖlkl and most recently, La Sportiva and Dynafit, two new launches at this year’s show come from established hardgoods com- panies. Atomic joins the club with an apparel line high- lighted by Stormfold Adaptive Layering, which includes a PrimaLoft midlayer along with a Pertex Shield stormshell that tucks into a back pocket. Black Diamond Equipment launches 108 new styles, many made from Gore-Tex Pro and Active Product, as well as Cohaesive, a new streamlined cord lock system. “Backcountry skiing and touring apparel is becoming more fashionable, with better cuts and colors and blended with high function and leading fabrics,” says Dan Fiore, Dynafit sales and merchandising manager. Dynafit’s touring apparel turns to a freeride influence in the Beast, a lightweight and waterproof-breath- able jacket made with Gore-Tex Active.
Following in the big green footsteps of Patagonia (which is launching Fair Trade Certified yogawear this fall), Fera introduces Eco-Drytek fabrics, which use a water-free dye process to add colored pigments to melted recycled water bottles. Halti uses Sympatex, a Bluesign-approved membrane as well as PTFE-free laminates and tapes. Snow Show newcomer Tamagear introduces a line of technical down jackets and soft shells, with the pledge of donating 10 percent of net profits to help preserve wildlife habitats.
(From the SIA Snow Show Preview)