Targeted to inherently feminine, active women who love the outdoors, Lole is a Montreal-based brand that launched its line of style-driven women’s activewear in 2002. Recently, SNEWS took out Lole’s new Avenue jacket (pictured below) for a test run. It is a three-quarter length, full-zip, light softshell jacket with soft polybrush interior. We took a hard look at performance, comfort, and style.
Two female testers in Durango, Colo., wore this new Spring/Summer 2011 outerwear piece extensively during the finicky weather months of March and April. The jacket (and its wearers) braved tumultuous conditions ranging from warm, bluebird days to hail, snow, rain and biting, mountain morning cold.
The key technical features of the Avenue include its waterproof nature (8,000 mm), breathability, a DWR finish, and a unique weave construction that enables the fabric to move with the wearer. It does the latter efficiently—the stretch effect enables the wearer to bend and move without feeling restricted (a problem with many technical lifestyle outerwear pieces today). The Avenue endured rain and pinging hail and we stayed perfectly dry underneath. On a particularly blustery Durango day, this jacket also cut the wind like a knife.
With zipper functionality as our main tester’s pet peeve, we approached the closing and opening of this jacket with hesitation. But, time and time again, it engaged smoothly and zipped up and down without nary a snag nor a tweak. It was closure nirvana.
The inner face of this jacket is a cozy and soft, 100-percent polyester-brushed tricot. While the Avenue is a waterproof/breathable softshell with DWR, it is a lighter weight piece designed for spring, summer, and early fall wear. When one tester wore it over a lightweight short to work at 6:40am when it was 24 degrees F, she quickly found herself chilled and in need of another layer to be comfortable. Trying to stay warm with the jacket fully zipped up she also found that the material just under the chin to be a bit stiff. Her take: beefing it up with some soft fleece on those corners would feel more comfortable on the chin.
Lole’s Avenue also offers an adjustable hood (an excellent hail barrier) plus two generously sized zip hand pockets for safe storage. We felt confident zipping up our car keys, cash, credit card, driver’s license, and iPhone into these ample pockets.
Lole also thoughtfully sewed its snap closures on fabric loops, so it's easy to get your finger under them to quickly and easily open the jacket.
While designed to be feminine and form fitting, the Avenue’s shape hugged our curves conservatively without delivering a boxy effect. The cut is definitely more J. Crew than Victoria’s Secret, which appealed to our outdoor style sensibility.
The outer face of this garment is a sleek and modern-looking 100-percent polyester fabric. A modicum of design is evident in the only slightly noticeable willowy pattern embossed on the back shoulder. The jacket is available in black, white, and the color we tested, “grape juice,” a hue that is part of Lole’s Saharan color story for Spring/Summer 2011.
Suggested Retail: $180
SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)