Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is colorlicious!

Let's hear it for color! How great it was to see bright reds, yellows, greens and blues on everything from flip-flops and tents to kayaks and sleeping bags at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. It was crayola and sno-cone colors all around. What a change from the grayed-down colors we've been seeing the past few seasons.
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Let's hear it for color! How great it was to see bright reds, yellows, greens and blues on everything from flip-flops and tents to kayaks and sleeping bags at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. Acorn's Later Gator and Sundal slides, Old Town kayaks and Mammut's orangeade-hued sleeping bags were colorific. Then there were Beal's sherbet-colored climbing ropes, SMC's delicious pulleys, Cheap Holds' yummy climbing holds and Quiver Sail's vivid kayak sails. It was crayola and sno-cone colors all around. What a change from the grayed-down colors we've been seeing the past few seasons.

Those of you who were around 25 years ago probably remember when Patagonia came out with pink and light blue hiking shorts. Retailers and customers alike were horrified, but, guess what, they sold and started the color revolution we see in full bloom today. Patagonia's jackets are a prime example of how far we've come from those early earth-toned days.

So will this trend continue into fall? Nancy Hom, lead designer at Ex Officio, and freelance designers Teri Davis and Tracy Cottingham, report that the oranges, reds, greens, yellows and blues we're seeing for spring 2004 will be paired with neutrals like khaki, brown and light sand to tone down the intensity of the colors -- very '70s in feel. We'll also see retro combinations like green and white, nautical combos in red, white and blue, and athletic looks from the '70s and '80s (think Puma).

Cottingham predicts the influence of adrenaline sports and a definite edge toward the motor sports look. Colors include chalk neutrals, grayed colors with small bits of black detailing. Bottom banding will be big on jackets and sweaters and, lord help us, the Members Only bomber jacket look is coming back.

Contrast and striped zippers lead the way to what Cottingham calls classical retro. Watch for blue jackets with yellow zippers and orange with burgundy contrasts. If you think fashion doesn't influence this market, think again. Outdoor manufacturers are not afraid of color or the F-word (fashion, that is) any longer.

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