Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 women's summer lifestyle apparel

Check out the top trends and products in summer women's lifestyle apparel slated for outdoor retail shelves in 2016.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8

A mix ofathleticism and leisure make a winning recipe for women’s lifestyle apparel at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Not only does the “athleisure” look dominate hanger-space on the show floor, it’s making a splash on the Paris catwalks among fashion icons like Chanel and Christian Dior. “The outdoor lifestyle has now become a fashion lifestyle,” said Greg Thomsen, managing director at Adidas Outdoor. “If you do the activities, then you have this ability to wear what you would use around town — and it’s fashionable. It’s a great opportunity now for growth in the outdoor industry.”

Athleisure’s stronghold on the outdoor lifestyle market can be attributed to a range of factors. Not only do people want others to recognize their outdoor recreational pursuits in “real life,” but with busy schedules and little free time, consumers demand versatility.

“You have to be able to adjust at any given moment, and this trend of activewear crossing over to being more accepted in business casual atmospheres or restaurants or bars, that’s giving people more flexibility versus ‘I have to go home and change,’” said Noah Robertson, co-founder and director of product development & design for Mountain Khakis. “We don’t all have an extra 30 minutes in our day anymore. This trend is allowing people to keep going.”

His brand’s Traverse Pant (MSRP $90) does just that. Movement is easy given the bottom’s polyester/spandex makeup; a DWR finish makes wiping up spills a cinch; and the stylishly slim fit flatters the figure while still leaving details of the anatomy to the imagination. Both the Shimmering Light Racerback Tank (MSRP $55) from Columbia and the Poet Tank (MSRP $52) from Aventura promise effortless transition from a midday yoga session to an après-ohm lunch.

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Stonewear, too, is taking the athleisure trend in stride. Fresh off of a rebrand, the Boulder-based company aims to give women options that are both functional and fashionable enough for their daily activities. “Women are so involved and busy, and they want an outfit that pertains to that lifestyle,” said product manager Cassie Strid. “The activewear industry has leveraged that [active life] with style that can be cute.” Stonewear nails the trail-to-town trend with its Compass Short (MSRP $60). A new take on the classic gym short, the bottom’s contrast-stitching gives a denim-esque look cute enough to wear outside of phys ed.

More leisure-inclined lifestyle tops have adopted a breezy, beautiful aesthetic to accompany body-hugging bottoms. Outdoor Research’s Ensenada Hoody (MSRP $79) and Soybu’s Gigi Sweater (MSRP $55) show that airy, lightweight long sleeves are perfect for layering. Meanwhile, Toad&Co and Krimson Klover offer a new take on tunics. Quick to dry with a wicking finish, Toad&Co’s aptly-named Debug UPF Lightness Tunic (MSRP $99) exudes effortless style while disguising its odorless Insect Shield Technology within the weave. Meanwhile, Krimson Klover’s Africa-inspired Tribal Tunic (MSRP $84) is hard to miss with its graduated patterns and bold shapes. ExOfficio’s Air Space Shirt (MSRP $70) uses an eyelet woven dobby to achieve all over venting.

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The go-to fabric for many of these breezy tops: cotton. “Sometimes cotton gets vilified or is underrated, but in certain circumstances there is nothing more delightful,” said Kate Larramendy, Toad&Co’s design and sustainability director. Relaxing summer days are one such occasion. Unbeatably breathable, cotton also receives accolades for its oh-so-soft hand. Brands like Patagonia and Bergans of Norway, as well as United By Blue, opt for organic cotton in their Denim Short (MSRP $75), Cecilie Shorts (MSRP $59) and Torrey Popover (MSRP $72), respectively. When cotton alone won’t cut it, designers blend the old standby with polyester, modal, merino or, in the case of the Monet Skirt (MSRP $89) from Krimson Klover, Lycra.

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This summer color takes a step back, allowing for natural hues, subtle textures and micro-stripes to enjoy the limelight. “Think of that wonderful sense of the interior/exterior of a summer cabin,” Toad&Co’s Larramendy said. “It’s color that’s knocked back just a little bit because it’s been sun-worn and washed and dried.” The Kala Dress (MSRP $230) from Icebreaker uses chambray, a sculpted hem and a traditional men’s shirting finish to turn heads, while the heathered fabric of Columbia’s Irico Long Sleeve Shirt (MSRP $85) hides cooling perforations and Omni Freeze Zero technology.

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Those who crave look-at-me color won’t be disappointed however, as romantically weathered washes live alongside slight pops of brightness. Ojai and Mountain Khakis use indigo to attain bold color ways, while Exofficio and White Sierra go crazy for coral.

--Courtney Holden

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