The SNEWSÂ® team of editors powered by caffeine, chocolate and beer, ducked and weaved around the trade show floor over the course of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to ensure we could bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out. No, each report is not complete and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. We're only covering product that stood out to us, so if you're not mentioned, we were either too hyped up on caffeine to see you, we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently, or we were just plain clueless -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on trends and new products for lifestyle apparel:
Whatever you call it -- lifestyle apparel, casual sportswear or "beer gear" -- it's a hot category that even the most techie companies continue to branch into. Lines blend the best of both fabric worlds -- natural and man-made fibers -- together for comfort and functionality. Horny Toad alone features nearly 30 different fabrics in its line. Cruising the Summer Market floor, we noted a few trends popping up periodically in lifestyle apparel lines for women and men.
The ladies are getting lots of embellishments on tops, and even on pant and Capris legs. They range from embroidery from the likes of Prana, Blurr and Life is Good, to screen-printed designs on shirt side panels, necklines and sleeves from Royal Robbins and Sportif. We even saw a bit of ruching, where the fabric is puckered, on the front of women's blouses. Tops are also getting a little longer to cover tummies, and Carve Designs and Ojai are picking up the trend. While some disagreed, Cloudveil and Woolrich think skirts are replacing shorts for many women nowadays, and each had expanded their skirt offerings to reflect that.
Guys' short-sleeve button-down shirts are starting to lose their boxiness and becoming more narrow and fitted. Patagonia and Horny Toad were a just a few with the updated look. Knits are also coming on strong, which was evident at Woolrich and Prana. And whether you call it a knicker, a shant or a man-pri, capris for men seem to be here to stay, boys. The hall was riddled with them from various companies, including Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia and Cloudveil.
Companies continue to explore the viability of jeans in the outdoor specialty realm. Royal Robbins said its Nox jeans did so well that it's added a vintage dirty denim for men and women, and a Capri style for women. Ojai wants what the boutique market has been hoarding -- designer jeans with a stylish fit. They come at a price, though, running $125 retail.
And nothing highlights the blending of outdoor techiness and casual lifestyle better than the use of 3X Dry, a multifunctional finish that repels moisture from the surface and wicks sweat quickly. This anti-microbial finish helps fabrics dry eight times faster than normal material and prevents perspiration stains. It's rumored that presidential candidates during the '04 election wore shirts with 3X Dry to handle "the heat" on the campaign trail. Both Mountain Hardwear and Royal Robbins had some stylish offerings using it.
Here's a more detailed overview of what companies were showing:
Ability - Ability believes women have to be able to multi-task, hence its line of fashionable gardening workwear for women. No Carhartt for these ladies. Fabrics used in the line are imported from Italy, and bamboo blends prevail. A gardening apron sports sunglass and cell phone pockets, protects against UV rays and is anti-bacterial. A nylon chap features neoprene insets and water resistance. www.ability-online.com
Adide - Adide in Hungarian means "give me more," and that drives the business of this small company that wants people to get more out of life. It gets more out of its fabrics by using blends of bamboo and organic cotton and soy (dubbed vegetable cashmere by the company), cotton and Lycra combos. Standout active styles for women include the Isabella Reversible Active Hoodie and the Bodhi Pant and Capri all in the soy/cotton/Lycra blend. www.adideinc.com
Alps - Colors good enough to eat pervaded the Alps 2006 spring apparel. The women's chenille Beach Breeze zip pullover colors -- aquarette, ivory and petunia -- were scrumptious, and the micro chenille Nantucket Vee pullover was almost edible with colors like butter cream, cotton candy and tropic. Merchandising the women's multi-stripped Capricious Crew with the Whispering Wind cardigan and the Solitude Crew is a no-brainer. The Cozumel Cardigan, a space-dyed yarn, was outstanding. The men's Alps line is moving away from traditional styles and incorporating softer fabrics like space-dyed cotton yarns. The sweaters looked good, in particular the Windjammer and the Sundown Vee. www.alps-sportswear.com
Arc'Teryx - Even tech-savvy Arc'Teryx recognized the need for a casual collection and debuted 24, a line for men and women that blends mountain lifestyle with urban sensibilities. The company said that after years of plopping styles that weren't designed for ascent or descent into its Traverse category, it refined its collections to create logical groupings. All Gamut pieces have been moved into 24, which features fabrications like cotton, polyester, nylon and merino wool with a bit of Polartec sprinkled in. A new designer with street sense and style is onboard and has added more pants, shorts and capris in lines called Delegate, which uses twill cotton and Alibi, more of a cotton/polyester/nylon blend. We give the new Operative short and long sleeve T-shirts the thumbs-up. www.arcteryx.com
Blurr - Blurr continues to blend the concepts of climbing, training, work and travel into its men's and women's apparel. A prime example is the Kelly Pants which try hard to escape the multi-functional nylon pants look so ubiquitous in the outdoor industry. Quick drying and durable, they're built using a hybrid Mission/Cassette pattern and feature the ST (set-it and thread-it) low-profile waist adjustment with articulated knees and gusseted crotch. More organic cotton is popping up in the line with the short-sleeved Redpoint button-down and the Kato Polo Shirt for men, and the Jasmine top with embroidery and string tie detail on the sleeves for women. Looking to get more serious penetration in the United States, Blurr Sales Manager Toby Reid has enlisted Andy Howe, formerly of Patagonia and White Sierra, to develop a distribution strategy that will target the top 100 U.S. specialty dealers in 2006. www.blurrstuff.com
Carve - Carve's water styles include new prints and stripes as well as longer board short styles like the new Davenport Short and Pipeline Shorts with side-entry lace-up closures instead of the traditional front lace (why didn't anyone think of that before?). The Baja Skirt with Carve's innovative rear darts is new, as is the Rockpile V-Neck with shoulder straps wide enough to prevent PFD rashes. Tees are getting longer as seen in the Tankini Top and roller T. A new lifestyle and Of the Beach category is being launched for spring with clothing appropriate for a variety of activities and incorporating cotton/spandex blends, canvas, organic cotton, nylons and stretch poplin in shirts, skirts, dresses and sweatshirts. www.carvedesigns.com
Cloudveil - Cloudveil continues to blur the lines between casual and technical apparel, blending the two into one seamless package inspired by its hometown mountain culture. It's not hard to be enamored with the likes of the Dharma techno-pile hoody for women and the men's Shant "man-pri" and Pilsner soccer-styled shirt. Cloudveil said its infrastructure has grown dramatically in the eight months since SBI Venture Capital bought it, allowing the company to "really step on the gas." With a new office established in Hong Kong, it said it has increased flexibility and improved sourcing to readily and efficiently get its apparel to market. www.cloudveil.com
Ex Officio - Must have been time for a spring cleaning because Ex Officio has regrouped its spring 2006 line into three categories: Adventure, Destination and Trailhead. Adventure is made up of its advanced, high-performance fabrics that protect in the elements and against insects. Destination is designed for maximum comfort in warm climates using lightweight fabrics that pack easily and avoid wrinkles. Trailhead is ideal for daytrips or the weekend warrior with performance apparel in relaxed looks and natural fibers. What was notable overall was the freshness in the line -- it looked a little younger and a bit trendier. So struck, we asked if they had new designers and found out the answer was no. It's just been listening to retailers more and filling in holes, it said. New and notable: Women now have their own Buzz Off Jean with a lower rise and boot cut leg, and both sexes have the new Buzz Off Canvas Jean. www.exofficio.com
Gramicci - You can tell there's a new sheriff in town at Gramicci. It still has the classic pant and short styles available, but has expanded into new territory. It's pushing travel light fabrications such as cotton/nylon, and now has performance apparel in Spandex for yoga and climbing. New are the men's handmade shirts from Guatemala that are hand-loomed and garment dyed. It's also mixing in hemp and recycled PET into some pieces. We were told that Gramicci will offer its 12 core items in stock year-round for asap ordering. It'll do the dye work in Los Angeles and have a two-week turnaround from the time of the order. It also has a new line of bags -- backpack, cinch sack, duffle, etc. -- in canvas leather and canvas that it's testing out in Dillards. www.gramicci.com
Green Brand / Sansegal - Green Brand introduced new styles for men and women in its Retro collection, and new styles for women in the Crepe collection. The women's Retro group includes a long-sleeve Rib Tech Shirt edged with mÃ©lange fleece, and a mÃ©lange fleece Retro Pant with side leg boot zippers and ribbed waistband. The lightweight crepe group includes long sleeve and short sleeve Crossover tops and the Pull-on Capri. For men, there's the mÃ©lange fleece in a Retro V-neck Pullover and Vest with rib side panels, a Rib Tech Mock Turtle with raglan sleeves and a Zip Jacket with ribbed collar. www.sansegal.com
Ground -- Ground is going for the youthful gals with their Schoeller Dryskin with Nanosphere Feather Stretch Pant and Bolder Short. They are both lightweight, resist water and stains, and dry quickly. The Featherweight pant has skateboarder-style welded rear pockets and a gusseted crotch. Ground cut length from the Bolder Shorts for those who want to show what they've got. The Bolder's got a 4.5-inch inseam. But it's not the boldest. www.groundwear.com
Horny Toad - Horny Toad has hired on a new men's designer, whose background includes stints at Quiksilver and Abercrombie & Fitch, to re-work the men's line. Seems to be going well if the new Kramer, Oscar and Roadster short-sleeve, button-down shirts are any indication. Also lots of retooling throughout the line to make its shorts "mo'betta." Don't worry, the ladies aren't getting left behind design-wise. Check out the short-sleeve Sugar Snap with slightly scooped neck and mini-snap placket in bright colors. The Clara Capri sits low on the hips and comes in a peach-skin blend of nylon and cotton with double snap closure and extra pocket on the thigh. For the more daring, there's the Yolo Capri with spiral-like embroidery on the lower right leg. www.hornytoad.com
Ibex - The best new pieces from Ibex are made from its luxuriously soft 17.5-micron New Zealand merino wool. You'll find it in the new Stella Top and in the classic Echo T. The women's sleeve-less Peregrine Top and the Serein Halter use clever color blocking. The new yarn-dyed striped Whitney Tank in 18.5 merino wool features reversed stripe side panels. All the tops are great teamed with the Neela Skirt, a modified A-line that rides just below the natural waist and has Lycra stretch. Guys get the 17.5-micron wool in a classic polo, tee and the BBQ Shirt, a cool look for a hot cookout with button closure and contrast side stripes. www.ibexwear.com
Indigenous Designs - The lightweight organic cotton styles for women from Indigenous Designs are attractive and wearable. Favorites include the Striped Scoop Neck with Tie, the Wrap Hooded Pullover and the V-Neck Pullover with attached Tank. There's style in these designs and attention to what's happening in the market as evidenced by the longer length Tencel/organic cotton Scoop Neck Cap Sleeve Top, the silk/organic Cotton Pom Pom Hooded Pullover, and the organic cotton Lotus Shirt. www.indigenousdesigns.com
Life is Good - It ain't just about hats and tees anymore at Life is Good. Growing by leaps and bounds, the company has added jewelry and flip-flops for men and women. The flip-flops have a nubuck upper, moisture-resistant lining and slip-resistant rubber outsole, and are available with colorful graphics and phrases or solid colors. Also on the docket are linen shirts, lightweight cabin shorts and river shorts for both sexes. Shirts have mixed embellishment with print and embroidery (we liked the native sun and water designs), while the shorts boast plenty of pockets. www.lifeisgood.com
LolÃ« - This Canadian company was born four years ago to take feminine fashion to specialty outdoor. The apparel is not for enthusiasts but focuses on women who do a lot -- sports, work and raising kids. It's also for women with curves (hallelujah!). A small in LolÃ« styles is the equivalent of a size eight. Textures, cuts, details and color stories dominate the apparel in this company run by women. Favorite styles include the cotton/nylon Official Jacket and matching Secret Skirt, the Lolita Dress and Maria Skirt and the ribbed tees. LolÃ«'s catalog is a joy to behold because it walks the buyer through apparel collections grouped by color story. This is a company to watch. www.coalision.com
Marmot - For spring 2006, Marmot builds on the young and edgy attitude of its Road Trip Sportswear concept with the Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell collections. Rather than muddle through to figure out what the younger crowd wants, Marmot went to the source, having the 20-something climbing duo work directly with Marmot designers to develop the signature collections. Characterized as "unfussy good looks, casual comfort and versatile performance," each collection tries to catch their personal style and translate its appeal to a mass audience. Notable among Rodden's line are lots of tanks with multiple strap treatments on the back (to show off the detailing while climbing), the Renaissance short-sleeve V-neck shirt with lace-up front, and the semi-fitted Confession Capri (confessing we don't know what) made of lightweight stretch woven with lots of stitch detailing. Caldwell's collection is heavy on the stripes and paisley prints, and offers the Tomfoolery short sleeve shirt that's reversible for those unexpected spills (drinking that is, not while climbing) and shorts with longer in-seams (12 inches). www.marmot.com
Moonstone - Like most brands, Moonstone has been challenged by its parent to grow its business and extend its reach to more people. In response, Moonstone has expanded its outdoor lifestyle offerings -- a tight collection that reflects its techie roots that can crossover to everyday living. In doing so, it's trying to evolve into a 12-month brand, transitioning its winter customers into spring and giving them a reason to carry Moonstone throughout the year. Last year, it had a 75-percent increase in spring sales and opened up new accounts with the spring line, which is unusual for the company. What will you find? For guys and gals, there's the Caldera Hoody, a soft, ultralight micro fleece. Just for the ladies are the trim-fitting women's Meridian long-sleeve T-shirt and X Tech 3 Capri with a relaxed fit in soft shell, ideal for travel or climbing. Guys get the new Desert Rock Cargo Short (12-inch inseam) and Desert Rock Short (9-inch inseam) with relaxed fit in woven nylon and lots of pockets. The shorts have come down in price and retail for $40. www.moonstone.com
Mountain Khakis - The Alpine Utility Short and Teton Twill Short are two new men's styles from Mountain Khakis. The Alpine Utility Short is constructed of 10.4-ounce cotton duck canvas with roomy back pockets that add to the utility. The Teton Twill Short utilizes an 8.5-ounce twill fabric for a more lifestyle use. Women will appreciate the new Teton Cargo Capri with is 1 1/2-inch flat waistband and side cargo pocket. The women's Teton Twill pant is another winner with a grosgrain-lined 1 1/2-inch waistband and inset back pockets. Mountain Khakis isn't sacrificing function for a bit of fashion.
Mountain Hardwear - Mountain Hardwear's extensive Mountainwear collection is broken into four categories: Pack & Trail, Excursion, Vertical Performance and Mountain Performance, and it said it now offers 52 percent margins in nearly every clothing category. In the Pack & Trail line is the stylish button-down, long-sleeve Compass Shirt for men and women in 3 X Dry. In Vertical Performance, the men's Chausey Shirt has a print design over colorful plaid, snap front closure and a slim relaxed cut. Women have the new low rise Junket short and Junket Capri in 100 percent cotton, while guys aren't left out with the Beta short and Beta Capri in cotton twill. www.mountainhardwear.com
Oobe - There's a revolution of sorts at Oobe. A new design team has made some welcome changes to Oobe apparel. All patterns have been reworked as the clothing was running on the small side. Price points have been lowered, some as much as 20 percent. Pieces in the the women's line looked strong, such as the 100-percent cotton/ bamboo knit women's Marion tee, the 100-percent cotton Amira spaghetti strap top with drawstring waist, and the Phoebe cotton/linen crop pant with drawstring waistband. Most unusual was the Taylor Shirt, a burnout sheer fabric over-printed with a floral design. Best men's styles included the rayon/poly Camp shirt, the subtly embroidered Dalton shirt and the knit and color-banded Elliot shirt. www.oobegear.com
Ojai - What better way to celebrate your 20th anniversary than to try something new. Ojai is taking a gamble and trying to compete with the boutique jean market by bringing out its own jeans -- straight leg cut, boot leg cut and a Capri -- for women. After studying lots of jeans (and quite a few butts, we're told) and working with a Los Angeles designer, it's created a low cut version and relaxed fit with a slightly higher rise. The denim pieces have been "washed" to create a worn-in look and feel, and are soft with a bit of stretch. They'll be sized 25-31, and retail for $125 ($45 wholesale). Ojai told us it wanted to push the envelope in the outdoor industry and go where others won't -- now let's see if anybody will follow. www.ojaionline.com
Patagonia - Noticing that its men's sportswear shirts were becoming a bit super-sized, Patagonia added a trim fit that's pared down to reduce bulk and improve their look. The men's Rhythm shirts have also been resized to include trim, regular and relaxed fits. The regular fit is less roomy with reduced bulk under the arms. In women's sportswear, the new Two-fer collection is ideal for those on the go with little room to spare in their bag. The colorful reversible collection includes a tank, T-shirt, hoody and skirt. In the women's Rhythm collection, most of the more causal tanks and tops have been revised, including the Crossline, Bandha and Stefka, with a more substantial, ultra-stretchy jersey-knit for better shape retention and durability. The more sporty tanks and tops have a new blend of lightweight organic cotton and spandex for lighter weight and more mobility. New to the Capilene collection is the women's Mesh Capri with stretch. It has an open-mesh construction for increased airflow, wicking capability, gusseted crotch, and a lower calf length with a slight flare. www.patagonia.com
Prana - Trying to break the mold of being thought of as a "women's" brand, Prana is making a concerted effort to build up its men's offering with help from a new designer from the surf industry. As part of its initiative, it now offers a men's woven line with 11 new styles and a new knit collection with three organic cotton shirts. A proprietary blend of organic cotton and technical DryTech also debuts in shirts, and hemp and denim also abound. Prana's new men's Tree Box Ringer T-shirt made of organic cotton with water-based ink retails for $27 with all proceeds from the shirts going to the Conservation Alliance. Many of its new organic performance pieces for women have a floral motif screenprint, which resembles embroidery and can be found on the Aura, Lotus Sport and Shanti tops, Prima and Asana Capri, and the Flower Power pant. www.prana.com
Pulp/Weekendz Off - Pulp is the women's division of Weekendz Off, a men's line specializing in colorful print and patterned shirts. It doesn't pretend to be technical but does offer outdoor retailers clothing with flair. For example, there's a stretch nylon roll-up pant with button tabs placed in the front, which can be paired with a military-influenced short jacket. Seams often have raw edges, and the colors are right on -- curry, picante, bronze, Kelly, seafoam and tidal. It's dipped-dyed knit tops are the new longer length, and stretch poplin fabrics are comfortable and fashionable. www.weekendzoff.com
Royal Robbins - Marrying good design with fabric technology, Royal Robbins touts a collection where 50 percent of its fabrics wick moisture and protect from the sun. It's also expanding into more natural fibers, like bamboo, soy and hemp. With customers asking for more business travel apparel, Royal Robbins added the Passport collection with anti-UV fabrics and a stain-resistant DWR Teflon coating. With a shirt, skirt and pant available for women, they'll never have to worry about spilled coffee staining their outfit again. Guys have lots to choose from, including the men's synthetics collection with plaid shirts featuring Dri-X-treme and UPF protection, and the bowling-inspired short-sleeve Cisco button-down shirt. www.royalrobbins.com
Ryan Michael - George Bush's Texas style may have influenced the company's western-style shirting, but the buttery soft silk fabric was all Ryan Michael's idea. Collars, sleeves and pockets on the women's western-style silk shirts are top stitched in a contrasting color. Other shirt fabrications in a variety of styles include linen and silk blends, peached twill and diamond dobbies. Color, fit, fabrication and styling make this line one that stores should consider if they are looking for lifestyle additions to their inventory. www.ryanmichael.com
Sense and Tianello - This company out of Santa Fe, N.M., specializes in women's clothing that can be worn for yoga or cocktails. Standout styles include the Double Strap Print Cami, the Hanky Pant and the Print Back Tank in part because they each utilize a cotton modal (light twist rayon) fabric that gives them a soft feel and appealing drape. Best all-around style is the Asymmetric Tunic Pant with its angled skirt over a straight leg pant. The matching Asymmetric V features an angled hem and deep V-neck to pair with the pant. www.senseclothing.com
Sportif - Sportif continues to surprise and delight with its new designs, colors and saleable prints. Not one to rest on it laurels, the company introduced Aventura, a line designed for women between the ages of 30 and 50. Seventy percent of the cotton collection is made with organic cotton, and 100 percent of the synthetic products use SPF fabrics. Standouts were the 100-percent cotton Peyton Skirt, a gored style embellished with color-blocked accents and matching side-zip Peyton Tank. Travel enthusiasts will want the 100-percent nylon Patchwork Kismet Short Sleeve shirt and Reversible Skirt in colorful prints, as well as the Delaney 3/4 sleeve shirt and dress in an organic cotton and Lycra blend. In the Performance collection, the Amaris Board Skirt and Short come in two bold tropical-print colorways. Best of all, Sportif has retained its competitive pricing. www.sportif.com
True Grit - Fashion is making its way into outdoor, and True Grit has always been one of the companies to lead the way. Its styles for spring '06 are no exception. Longer tees in Tencel and short embroidery-embellished jackets are perfect complements to the Gossamer Blouses and Beaded Silk camisoles. The Rosetti Button Back Camisole and Tunic were favorites. Men's shirting dominates True Grit's men's line in imported fabrics from Italy and India and exclusive prints in wovens and knits. The River Ranch western-inspired shirt and the Kaleidoscope in short-sleeve and long-sleeve versions stood out. Woodblock prints and tie-dyed and over-printed shirtings looked good. www.truegrit.com
Woolrich - Woolrich is stepping away a bit from tradition and reinterpreting designs for the marketplace. For women, there is a bent toward being more body conscious and looking younger without deserting its established customer base. Valeria Beggs, the senior sportswear designer, said the company is pushing the boundary of what Woolrich is offering and where it's been. Examples include variations in necklines, including deeper V's, and pieces like the Ultra Sheer Zip Front Hoody made of a very sheer knit. To meet consumer requests, Woolrich continues to expand its petite sizing into more of its core and fashion-oriented styles for fall '06. It's also offering UPF fabrics for the first time. For men, color is in with a bent toward a younger energy with an eye toward sportswear trends, like preppy and military infusions, that are being melded into the Woolrich infrastructure. In shirts, there's an emphasis on knits and fabrication patterns and textures for dimension. The company said shorts continue to be important, and it has added longer inseams. www.woolrich.com
Quick Hits: What's old is new again at Outdoor People. Reviving pen and outdoor illustrations created for it between 1974 and 1982, it offers an array of long- and short-sleeve T-shirts and hoodies for its timeless imagesâ€¦ White Sierra is dialing in its fit and adding more colors for men and women. It's also introducing seam-sealed Trabagon Rain Gear (jacket and pant) in six colorways and Breezel Wind Gear (anorak and pant) into the spring '06 line.â€¦ Part of Contourwear's Chamois collection, the HoodieWrap is a versatile long-sleeve top that can be worn in countless ways, including off the shoulder, off the back as a hood, etc. Made of a poly/Spandex blend, it feels like suede but wicks moisture, dries fast and is breathableâ€¦ Mooloolaba -- hard to pronounce but easy on the eye, this Australian company specializes in women's surf wear. Bright prints, good color stories and easy to wear styles are the hallmarks of Mooloolabaâ€¦ Calispia specializes in "relax at home" clothing for women. Comfortable waffle knit tops and bottoms in soft pastels and mid-tones were standout stylesâ€¦ Line Two epitomizes casual fashion in its rayon floral print free-flowing skirts and coordinating tops. While the apparel looks like department store fodder, it will appeal to outdoor retailers who want to buff up their women's lifestyle clothing mixâ€¦ Isis introduced two new technical capris, the Marcy and the Luella made of nylon-Spandex and Supplex, respectively. Both have a microsuede-lined waistband, and a more universal fitâ€¦ Salomon's Amphib Capri is lightweight and quick dry, with the Velcro-close, drop waist and cargo pant styling. It talks to the young of heart and bodâ€¦ Outdoor Research is offering a DWR-finished, stretch woven nylon capri named the Mythic. It's got a low rise waist and articulated knees, and a couple of zip pockets so you don't lose your car keys.