Brands skip ORSM, but still have spring ’13 line to show

Not every outdoor brand makes it to Outdoor Retailer. SNEWS takes a look at three notable brands not at Summer Market, why they decided to play hooky and what’s ahead from them for spring ’13.
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Not every outdoor brand makes it to Outdoor Retailer.

There are always a few notable companies that show goers realize are M.I.A. from the floor. “Hey where was … ?” This year, SNEWS wondered what happened to brands such as Ibex, Westcomb and Mountain Khakis.

Not to worry … none of these three are going away, but for one reason or another, they decided to play hooky from the industry’s largest trade show. Actually, they still came to Salt Lake City, just not with a booth on the show floor.

“Going to Summer OR always been a been a big discussion for us,” said John Fernsell, founder and CEO of Vermont-based Ibex. “We don’t feel that we need to go, but there’s always the discussion of how people might interpret our absence.”

The bulk of Ibex’s merino wool products are fall- and winter-based, so Winter Market makes more sense he said. Plus, most (about 85 percent) of the company’s spring business to wholesale is completed by the time Summer Market rolls around in August. “If it were earlier in the summer, then maybe it would make more sense. But, in reality, it’s more of a marketing show, and we feel like once a year [Winter Market] is adequate.”

This year’s decision doesn’t mean Ibex won’t return to Summer Market, he said, and the brand will definitely continue to attend Winter Market with a booth. Also, despite no booth at Summer Market, Fernsell and five other Ibex employees attended the show this August, mostly meeting with fabric suppliers. The money the company saved without having a booth will be used to visit key retailers or have them visit Ibex in Vermont, Fernsell said.

New for spring 2013, Ibex will roll out new apparel pieces in its new lighter-weight, Synergy fabric — a combination of merino wool and organic cotton, plus a little Lycra for stretch — targeting the active consumer. The new products include tank tops, shorts, capris and pants for men and women (MSRPs $68-150). Another new fabric debut from Ibex is called Rim — 89 percent merino wool and 11 percent stretch nylon. The combination allows for form-fitting pieces (including tops, cycling jerseys and a “skort,” MSRPs $55-125) designed for trail running, cycling and fastpacking. “We’re doing quite well in bike,” Fernsell said.

Mountain Khakis was another brand notably absent from Summer Market this year.

Was it a budget decision? “No,” said Mountain Khakis President Ross Saldarini in a press release sent out before the show. “We are having our best year ever. It's a ‘spend smart and shake it up’ decision. The OR Show is vitally important to our industry and we’re proud to be a part of it. This is a strategic decision to directly support our retailers.” Officials said they are developing merchandising and retailer promotions along with a circuit on in-store visits. The brand will also be back with a booth at Winter Market.

New for spring 2013, Mountain Khakis brings 17 new tops and bottoms made with “lightweight and colorful fabrics,” officials said. That includes the women’s Anytime Knit Sleeveless Dress (MSRP $65), a just-above-knee-length dress, featuring racerback style with a built-in shelf bra and seamless sides. It’s 90 percent cotton, 10 percent Spandex Jersy Knit.

Westcomb, which normally exhibits at Winter Market, skipped Summer Market this year, but will be there with a booth next year, spokesman Drew Simmons said. The brand launched its first-ever spring line for 2013, showing products during happy hour at the Red Door in Salt Lake City. While not officially part of the show, quite a few brands attempt to set up shop outside the Salt Palace in an attempt to capitalize on the outdoor crowd in the city, along with some guerilla marketing.

Westcomb_Focus.jpg

The highlight piece in Westcomb’s showing for spring ’13 — the Focus LT Hoody (MSRP $279) a lightweight, 7-ounce waterproof/breathable jacket made with the new eVent DVL fabric. Despite its light weight and ability to squeeze down to the size of a coffee cup, the Foucs isn’t completely stripped to the core. It maintains an elastic cinch waist cord, Velcro wrist closures, a Napolean chest pocket and a full cut.

While retailers missed these three brands at Summer Market this year, all three plan to attend Winter Market 2013.

--David Clucas

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