We know that underwear is a huge and still growing market, and we don't just mean in the outdoor world. "Lingerie" is worth nearly $13 billion overall nationally for men and women, according to The NPD Group, with the women's category racking up about three-fourths of that. So no wonder more and more outdoor suppliers and retailers want a piece of the pie. At the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2005, we took a look at undies, from a few tried-and-true manufacturers but also from a couple of somewhat newer players, as a way to follow up on our GearTrendsÂ® report in the Winter Outdoor 2005 magazine. Remember, we ain't talking long johns here. No base layers. We would fill a year of SNEWSÂ® reports if we tried to cover all the companies offering some kind of base layer or another. Here then, is our take on trends and new products that stood out to us in the area of unspeakables that we are speaking about. Get ready for thongs, flys, panties, and boxers where the colors and patterns seem to be the next step for many:
Duofold â€“ Expanding on its move to add a splash of pizzazz and youth while not turning off its mainstream customer, Duofold took another step, adding underwear that had splashes of colors, cuts and wicking zones that were eye-opening. Sure, being the winter show, the company had base layers to show, but ones with detail and some seamless, all wrapped up with a new identification system and packaging. We particularly liked the attention to "body mapping," with massaging or wicking panels knit-in to key areas. All of these products add to the company's debut last summer of a trendier and more youthful look with seamless underwear that had a soft hand and swirling designs. We'll lay money there are more colors and styles coming for the summer undie collection. Perhaps no thong though; Duofold highlights its patent-pending fly on its men's seamless boxer as the first "useable" fly on a seamless boxer.
Ex Officio â€“ The Give-N-Go underwear from Ex Officio isn't a new thing. But the patterns are. If flowers will catch customers' eyes and help them pick up an item and buy it, why not? The new pattern for tanks and bikinis is called Lazy Daisy and comes in pink or blue, for the traditionalists among us. The Seamless line is also dancing into the expanded picture since we KNOW we're all worried about the dreaded VPL (visible panty line). It is a powerknit fabric that is 94 percent Tactel Nylon and eliminates labels. Look for a boxer brief ($18), hipster ($17), thong ($15) and "sport top" ($32) that on purpose avoids the name "bra" since that for some implies a lot of support.
Hind â€“ With the elimination as of Fall 2005 of its bike line, the company is leaning more toward running, fitness and overall active and base pieces. In a way that's shocking since bike is a true part of Hind's heritage, but the company is making a huge hit with its underwear and seamless category. So be it. The seamless line is expanding, with items that aren't as tight so "every man" and "every woman" can enjoy them. The Winter Wave seamless collection, for light base layering or things like yoga, includes a bra ($38), tank ($48) and tee ($45), all with great waving patterns on one side. Turn it inside out for a solid look on your more conservative days. The company is also adding to its popular Motion Sensor bra with a molded and wicking cup with a "Motion Adjust Bra" ($48). Same cup, same wicking, same stretch, but an adjustable non-cross straps back with hook-and-eye, larger sizing and Velcro on the shoulders straps for adjusting fit. Oh, and yes we have a thong. For men, new in the seamless area is a windbrief â€“ an item Hind has long been known for, but now its got comfy seamless technology.
Hot Chillys â€“ You got the seamless undies from Hot Chillys, introduced last summer. (yes, we got thongs). What the company added to its string cami, string bra, thongs and briefs for F/W 05 is color. We're talking not just the cuuu-uuute pastels anymore, but a bright turquoise and a colorful gingham check and a pinstripe too.
Isis â€“ More colors and the addition of patterns is what Isis for Women went for in its seamless underwear collection that had been soft-launched at the summer show and fine-tuned since then. Strappy camis and bras stay plain but the brief ($18) adds daisies (seems flowers are in high demand in the underwear design studios), as does the, yes, thong ($15). All from 97 percent Tactel Nylon with an "Evaporator" finish for wicking.
Moving Comfort â€“ Quickly becoming (or maybe already having become) THE sports bra specialist, especially for larger women in need of greater support, Moving Comfort focused again on its bras and seamless collection for F/W 2005. With a lot of less constructed sports bras for the B and C cup woman, the company introduced a highly constructed one â€“ looks more like your traditional bra â€“ for that medium- to high-impact user (B to D): the Cara bra ($38). Also added is a racer-back version of the popular Cameo bra, made for the smaller breasted woman ($32). The company's focus goes beyond bras, when it comes to women though, focusing on education and fit too: A new program for specialty dealers is a "trade-up kit" to be used in a May promotion that focuses on sports bras. In addition, look for a "FitFest" planning guide for the company's so-called "Diva Nights" that also focus on education and good fit.
Patagonia â€“ After the company's first major re-tooling of its Capilene undie collection shown last summer, the winter line didn't have much to add â€“ except a few new colors and patterns, like other companies. Still the go-to when it comes to the overall underwear collection, Patagonia knows how to lay it out there with fabrics and patterns that just make you want to pick up the pieces. Good thing for retailers!