Amer Sports goes gaga for clothing: Atomic to add apparel

After a decline in equipment sales and a tempering in footwear revenue, the parent company to Atomic, Salomon and Arc'teryx is bullish on apparel.
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Another hardgoods ski brand is entering the apparel market.

Earlier this week, Atomic announced that it will launch its first-ever apparel line for Winter 2014/15, following the recent footsteps of fellow ski brands Black Diamond and La Sportiva to get into the softgoods game.

For Atomic, which has solely focused on ski hardgoods for some 58 years, the drive to get into apparel likely is being driven by both its peers and its parent company Amer Sports.

Finland-based Amer, which also is parent to Arc’teryx and Solomon has been on a bit of an apparel kick lately, churning out more softgoods SKUs to make up for a decline in ski hardgoods (following two weak winters) and a tempering of sales in footwear.

In 2012, Amer’s outdoor and wintersports apparel sales rose 30 percent, compared to a 9 percent gain in footwear and 5 percent decline in ski equipment. The trend has continued so far in 2013 with apparel sales up 22 percent, footwear up 4 percent and equipment sales down 3 percent through the first half of the year. Even Jeep is launching a new apparel line.

Specialty ski brands like Atomic also see opportunity to tap the growing backcountry/sidecountry market, where brands are convincing skiers they need more specialized gear when heading off-piste. Although Atomic officials say its new apparel line “while inspired by elite freeskiing, is meant to be accessible to a broader range of skiers.”

A signature piece in the new line called the Cliffline Stormfold jacket that allows users to quickly add or shed insulation layers and a shell from a back pocket. The brand also promises better fit and stretch for skiers and strategically placed insulation and breathing zones, featuring ingredient brands Pertex and PrimaLoft.

Outdoor and wintersports brands clearly continue to see opportunities (and results, as exhibited above) in apparel, but like any boom, a bust may be around the corner. Case in point: outdoor footwear sales — the now previous darling of the industry. 

--David Clucas

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