Ready for anything: Men's lifestyle wear is getting more versatile

Men’s lifestyle wear goes from dayhike to dinner without breaking a sweat
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Men’s clothes go from dayhike to dinner without breaking a sweat

Smooth transitions
Men’s clothes are at home in any setting this season, and there are many reasons why. For one, consumers who self-identify as outdoorsmen want that ethos to permeate their entire wardrobe, not just the hiking pants they pull out for Saturday. “They want to represent themselves in an authentic way, and ride their bike and get off and walk into a business meeting,” said Karuna Scheinfeld, Woolrich’s VP of design/creative director.

These men are also looking to simplify their wardrobes, so they’re buying less and expecting the pieces they own to work double duty for both work and play. Plus, there’s the mind-set that since the technology is available, why not take advantage of it? Especially when performance properties like wicking power and quick-dry capabilities can be integrated so unobtrusively.

Stretch it out
We doubt spandex will ever become a dominant feature in men’s fashion—at least, not outside of the cycling industry—but more and more brands are incorporating a small dose of comfort-boosting stretch into their bottoms. After all, if the consumer is planning to hit the bouldering gym after work and doesn’t want to change his pants, he’s going to appreciate that wider range of movement. “People are coming to expect the added level of comfort and flexibility that you get from a little stretch, not just in technical performance outerwear, but also in their casual, everyday clothes,” said Brita Womack, co-founder of Purnell.

Brighter and bolder
Subdued blues, grays and browns will always be a staple of the male wardrobe, but more and more, men are willing to try garments with bold orange, red and green color hits. Youthful influences and pop culture overall are permitting men to “get a little more adventurous as time goes on,” said Meghan Palmer, product designer with United by Blue.

That out-of-the-box attitude comes through even stronger with prints. Wild-all-over patterns—often with a theme inspired by the outdoors, such as a harbor scene or camping gear—will be especially hard to miss on both tops and bottoms. Graphics will also dominate those favorite organic cotton tees, but be sure to look for the meaning behind the imagery. “Prints have to reflect a lifestyle message that has meaning, like ‘I’m wearing my fish shirt because I love to fish,’” said Woolrich’s Scheinfeld. “Men care about the message. They’re representing themselves.”

Lightweight, classically cut and with just enough stretch: The Quick Dry 4-Way Stretch Plaid (MSRP $75) from Purnell hits all the top trends in men’s lifestyle apparel. Available in both light and dark gray, the short-sleeved tonal plaid holds its own on a hike or beach outing, but also easily crosses over to the office. Think of it as a true multitasker.

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Forget dynamic duos. ExOfficio introduces dynamic denim. The Dylan Jean (MSRP $98) features Sorbtek fibers for comfort, moisture management and breathability alongside premium denim that adds structure and holds shape. Three times stronger and two times faster-drying than all-cotton jeans, these travel-ready bottoms also feature zip pockets to stow cash and passports.

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Arrive at a mountain lake on your latest hike? Don’t fight the urge to jump in. The quick-drying capabilities of the Trail Creek Short (MSRP $60) from Mountain Khakis mean that dampness will disappear just a little way down the trail. Other great features: mesh pocket bags, 40+ UPF protection and low-profile flex zipper cargo pockets on the front thighs that make for easy access even while seated.

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The Ventilair Shirt (MSRP $69) from Toad&Co fires on multiple cylinders. Classic short-sleeve styling and chest pockets dress it up, but an innovative heat- and light-reflecting polyester yarn blocks UV rays, wicks moisture and cools the body by 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Eco-conscious consumers will approve of the Bluesign certification.

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Offering a tailored fit with a touch of military heritage, the Kil Jacket (MSRP $199) from Bergans of Norway is sure to turn heads. Double chest pockets and modern style make the piece appropriate for a dinner out, while the waterproof/windproof Bergans Element fabric handles weather.

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This story first appeared in the Day 1 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily.

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