Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '07 Trends: Lifestyle apparel

This Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trends for lifestyle apparel report nearly wraps up our coverage of Winter Market 2007. Lifestyle apparel sales and design energy have become year-round affairs as evidenced by the line expansions SNEWS® editors witnessed at Winter Market 2007. Lifestyle apparel makers incorporated multiple design elements into their offerings and highlighted sustainable fabrics. Plus, we also met with new players entering the game.
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Only one or two more Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trends wraps from SNEWS® yet to come...bringing you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories from Winter Market. No, each report does not name every company with new product and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. So if you're not mentioned, our brains were either too fogged out from the smog to think straight or we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on noteworthy trends and new products for Lifestyle apparel:

Lifestyle apparel sales and design energy have become year-round affairs as evidenced by the line expansions SNEWS® editors witnessed at Winter Market 2007. Lifestyle apparel makers incorporated multiple design elements into their offerings and highlighted sustainable fabrics. Plus, we also met with new players entering the game.

Design trends
If the devil is in the details, he was a fairly busy Beelzebub at Winter Market. Lifestyle apparel makers were adding surface intrigue to garments with various techniques: embellishments, appliqués, embroidery, contrast stitching, bunching, prints, and ragged edges. Every time we turned a corner, we saw it in action from Blurr, Prana, Horny Toad, Royal Robbins, Lolë, Mountain Hardwear, Topo Ranch, Mission Playground and Woolrich, to name a few on a rather large list.

Blurr, Prana and Royal Robbins mixed it up by placing embroidery and screen prints at unconventional spots on their shirts. Blurr had embroidery and screen prints running down sleeves, on shoulders and the linings of hoods, while Prana added detailing to shirt sides and hems, and Royal Robbins had prints at the shirt hems and on sleeves.

Woolrich's White Pine jacket (MSRP $130) for women had a rich flowered quilt pattern, even more striking in its off-white color. Woolrich's Tim Joseph told us that toggles are coming back, too, and offered the appropriately named Doe Run Toggle coat (MSRP $185). Mountain Hardwear also offered an eye-catching embroidery pattern on the women's Commotion jacket.

Horny Toad added its own unique detail to the bunch. Tami Snow told us that vertical lines are becoming saturated in the market, and Horny Toad is incorporating angles to add interest, which can be seen in the rounded shoulder seam of the men's Brody quarter-zip pullover (MSRP $78) and the women's A-line Chipotle skirt (MSRP $54), which has a vertical eight-panel construction for flow.

Since its inception a couple years ago, Topo Ranch has been a devotee of detailing, both on the outer garment and even on jacket linings and inner waistbands. Its men's Colonel Twill shirt plays off ranger shirt styling and will be attractive to younger consumers. Made of 11-ounce certified organic twill, the shirt (MSRP $88) has embroidered stitch detailing, elbow patches for reinforcement and a Topo signature patch on shoulder. It'll look great on its own or layered with a T-shirt.

Lolë's skill is teaming functional fabrics with fashionable styles and adding accessories that pair perfectly. Tone-on-tone appliqués are used in soft shell styles, and coordinating colored zippers are found on some jacket styles. An example of a perfect Lolë piece is the reversible Shannon Jacket (MSRP $160) constructed of an attractive plaid fabric that offers effective moisture management. It reverses from the plaid to a solid and comes in three colors -- shadow plaid, tea rose plaid and taupe plaid.

Besides having one of the best looking catalogs at the show, Mission Playground also exemplified the details craze in various garments. A standout piece from Mission Playground was the men's Pointer hoodie (MSRP $80) in organic cotton/poly with a sherpa lining. The printed plaid outer, raw edges, Speak icon chest patch and back logo embroidery made it a special piece. Another winning style was the Sonja Thermal in an organic cotton thermal patterned weave with button-down collar and contrast embroidery art on the chest and back. The look is stylin' at a retail price of $48.

Companies like Moose Creek, Horny Toad, Kavu and Weekendz Off continue to offer up design details for men via dobby weaves and slub textures on button-down shirts, offering interest and dimension.

Horny Toad's Tami Snow shared some of the company designers' notes for the fall '07 season: "Texture continues to play a critical role in fall 2007. We have used dobbys and embroidery again to raise against the smooth backdrop of woven shirts, we have used the slub texture to lift the surface of fine knit, and we've used waffle texture to create pockets on subtle soft modal and fine cotton blends"

Kavu has taken a new approach to design for fall 2007 with new fabric textures and patterns, brass zippers and different stitch lines and thread colors. A standout piece for men is the cotton/linen, railroad-striped, over-dyed twill Local-Motive jacket (MSRP $75) with full fleece lining . A Long Haul pant in the same fabric is the companion piece with back angled flap patch pockets and front slash pockets, reinforced seams and rivets at all stress points.

Longer top lengths for women still rule the roost -- hitting around the hips or slightly lower -- among Dude Girl, Ojai and Topo Ranch. But some companies, such as Horny Toad, emphasized the neckline this season, using ruching (gathering, ruffling or pleating a fabric), snap plackets, deep and shallow V necks, and even triple crews for a feminine look. Prana's Suri top for women encompasses all these elements with a curved neckline and fitted bodice, plus longer sleeves -- another design aspect popping up.

Everywhere we looked, we saw pockets of all shapes and sizes to hold cell phones and MP3 players with slits for headphone wires. Gramicci had 'em in bottoms -- the Flatbed pant for men -- and tops -- the Earthen Twill Maya Ryvre jacket for women. Marmot's insulated Glacier jacket featured street styling and had an urban office pocket to hold a variety of electronic gadgets.

Prints were hot at Ojai and well received by retailers. Annelle Beebe told SNEWS®, "Prints take away the boredom of solids." Additionally, a popular print at the show was herringbone, found in offerings from The North Face and Merrell Apparel.

On the color front, the new black is raisin, formally known as maroon. Shades of raisin vary and come in a variety of different names but, the fact remains, raisin is the "it" color of the 2007 fall season. Brown is also well represented in many lines, and blue has never looked better. Grayed blues and new royal blues were much in evidence, though pastel baby blues looked dated. Interestingly, the color red is trending down and a less popular color than it has been in past collections.

Sustainable fabrics
The sustainability concept was quite the buzz again at Winter Market '07, with numerous lifestyle apparel makers showing their commitment to the cause through the use of a variety of sustainable materials: merino wool, organic cotton, bamboo, soy and hemp. The growing ranks of companies expanding their stable of sustainable fabrics included -- but were not limited to -- Topo Ranch, Prana, Gramicci, Ex Officio and Blurr.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Gramicci's president Marty Weening told SNEWS® his company was stepping up its commitment to sustainability with the introduction of the Greenicci collection for fall 2007. Comprising 38 percent of the total Gramicci line, all garments in the collection are made exclusively of sustainable materials, like hemp, organic cotton and recycled PET. All printed materials for the Greenicci line, including labels and packaging, will be made of recycled materials.

Up to 65 percent of Topo Ranch's knits and tops are certified organic and branded with the "Rancho Verde Organic Cotton" label. The company said as it grows and perfects the use of sustainable fabrics, it plans to keep adding more. Prana has increased its use of certified organic cotton by 40 percent with 74 styles for fall 2007. The men's Cordero shirt is 86-percent organic cotton blended with hemp and polyester and boasts a business casual look. Kavu's A-line Cypress Wrap Skirt is a winner in hemp cotton canvas with coordinated waistband and trimmed skirt panel.

Environmental-extraordinaire Patagonia debuted the men's Workender pant -- its first recycled nylon garment, saying it was a precursor of things to come.

Smaller companies like Ecolution, Dash Hemp, HT Naturals/Elements and Green 3 offered organic cotton and hemp basics in apparel and accessories -- many of which can have print graphics added. Ecolution offers hemp and organic cotton from India, while Dash Hemp uses pure hemp. HT Naturals/Elements has been around for 12 years, offering environmentally friendly fabrics in straightforward styles.

Companies continued to push into newer sustainable fiber realms with the likes of bamboo and soy. Bamboo and soy have similar characteristics -- both are antibacterial, quick drying, breathable, durable and have a silky soft hand.
Horny Toad's Hazel pant (MSRP $70) now features its new Bambooya fabric -- a blend of cotton, bamboo and spandex. Contourwear debuted the Bamboo-Tencel collection with the Flow Tunic (MSRP $48) and three-quarter V-neck shirt (MSRP $40), each with a buttery soft hand. ExOfficio continues it commitment to soy, expanding its Tofutech line of travel knits for men, which includes a T-shirt (MSRP $34), sleeve crew (MSRP $40), and soy/polyester blend zip-T and turtleneck (MSRP $50).

Representatives from apparel makers like Woolrich, Indigenous Designs, Horny Toad, Gramicci, Royal Robbins, Ibex and Blurr told SNEWS® companies are seeing a lot of interest in wool.

Horny Toad's Tami Snow told us, "One area with the biggest surge is wool. Customers recognize there's a comfort level to it." Four of the six fabrications the company debuted for fall 2007 were comprised of wool or a wool blend.

Ibex, known for its merino wools, introduced a new 17.5 grade of merino wool with a very soft hand. Outstanding styles included the new jacquard knit top, the Razzle (MSRP $120) and the Mollie (MSRP $185), which incorporates inset grosgrain ribbon trim. Colors were beautiful in dapple brown, black and crabapple.

Things are changing at Indigenous Designs for fall 2007 as the company presents collections of outfits rather than pieces and concentrates on developing coordinating colors across the entire offering. Its fashionable "Door to the World" collection features the good-looking Spirit Wing Cardigan in alpaca and Merino wool (MSRP $130).

New collections
More companies are joining the apparel party with new lines, including Carhartt, Merrell and SmartWool, or expanded collections, like Royal Robbins, White Sierra, Isis and Prana.

Carhartt isn't just for guys anymore. Answering consumer demand for a women's line (the No. 1 request on its website), the Carhartt for Women line was designed for women, by women. The company organized a retail advisory board, honed in fit with 40 different body types and worked with 24 field testers to make corrections. The company follwed up last fall, selecting 150 retailers to test products, provide additional feedback and develop marketing and shipping strategies. Now the company is launching the line nationwide for fall 2007.

A Carhartt representative told SNEWS® that the line covers all categories -- jeans, dungarees, overalls, tops, jackets, sweatshirts, vests and accessories -- in similar styles to the men's offerings, but using slightly modified fabrics and feminine shapes. Bottoms are available in sizes 2-20, with three different fits (traditional, relaxed and dungaree) and three inseams (30, 32 and 34 inches). Top sizing is XS-XL. Retail pricing: jackets, $90-$120; pants, $40-$50; and tops, $22-$30.

After two years of development, the Merrell Apparel collection debuted at Winter Market with offerings for men and women. Dubbed "Modern Outside," a company representative said its apparel collection combines outdoor performance with contemporary street style. Available at retail in July, the collection includes jackets, pullovers, vests, button-down shirts, polos, T-shirts, pants and skirts in a variety of fabrications -- organic blends, merino wool, waxed cotton, Gore-Tex, soft shells and fleece. It has even partnered with Vibram to exclusively produce buttons.

Notable for its urban styling and techie flavor, the Union collection features Merrell's Slick Seam technology where the military-esque garments are laser cut, then sonically welded rather than stitched. There is a jacket, top and pant for men, and a jacket, top and skirt for women. Merrell representatives told SNEWS® that some manufacturers predict in the next 10 to 15 years most apparel will be welded rather than stitched.

The footwear maker has really gotten into this whole apparel thing and promises a unique piece each season to showcase its design capability and explore new materials. Like a concept car at an automotive show, its first design exercise is the Cork jacket, made out of cork material -- a waterproof, breathable, sustainable material. Produced in a small quantity, the company said the Cork jacket is intended for display and will not be available for retail sales in 2007.

SmartWool introduced a lifestyle apparel line for fall 2007 of sweaters and woven jackets using fine-gauge, medium-gauge and boiled wool. Men and women can pick between crew and V necks, hoodies, cardigans and even a rib-knit Henley for the ladies. A highlight was the shapely Tissue V-neck sweater (MSRP $70) made of whisper-light yarn in orchid pink, black and grasshopper stripe. The sexy Black Tail Crew (MSRP $100) for men is a fine-gauge jersey knit with traditional crew styling, retro-inspired stripes on shoulders and raglan sleeves.

Starting as a fairly male-centric apparel maker, Topo Ranch reps told SNEWS® the fall '07 women's collection is equal in scope to the men's. The line runs the gamut and includes jackets, hoodies, henleys, crews, button-down shirts, pants and a few skirts. To make it easier for buyers, the company has different graphics for the men's and women's T-shirts, while the women's tees are now cut longer with either longer or cap sleeves. The best-selling fleece Bluejays jacket for men is now available in a women's version (MSRP $88). Also, check out the jacket and skirt combos: Bautista Canvas, Cinco Canoes Twill and Trembler (MSRP $118-$128 for jackets and $64-$74 for skirts).

Looking for additional ways to address seasonal transitions, Isis expanded its lifestyle apparel collection considerably. The Life line has doubled in size and includes jackets, pants, pullovers and a variety of tops. Notables included the Brigitte pullover (MSRP $65) made of polyester microfleece with contoured fit and contrast flatlock seams in five colors, and the Gidget pant (MSRP $82) with cargo pockets and the long-sleeved Deep V tee (MSRP $55). To address various heights, Isis is offering a 3-inch blind hem for customization by a tailor.

Additionally, folks at both Royal Robbins and White Sierra told us the companies had expanded their outerwear collections. Prana is delving deeper into cold-weather lifestyle offerings, broadening its selection for men and women. One standout is the women's Plaid Bomber jacket (MSRP $100) with a ribbed waistband, princess seams and a flattering fit, made of viscose, wool and satin poly liner.

SNEWS® Quick Hits:

>> Lounging around:
Aventura's three-piece pajama sets (MSRP $59) are winners, especially for the holiday gift-giving season. The sets feature a poly knit cami, patterned 100-percent cotton bottom and a long-sleeve tee. The Sally set is in shades of surf and light green with a striped bottom, the Meadow set comes in a yellow/aqua color way with a flower print bottom, and the Tiffi set is available in an orange and light green color way with a paisley bottom.... Woolrich representatives noted that loungewear is extremely popular among youth and teens, and it plans to expand its collection even further in the future.

>> Cover up: Long coats -- to the knee and beyond -- were all the rage at Ojai, The North Face, White Sierra, Isis, Cloudveil, Woolrich and Patagonia. Isis' Chloe jacket is a long city jacket that dealers like Paragon Sports are snapping up, we were told, because it fits in with the landscape with its metro area appeal. Isis is also putting faux fur hoods on many of its long coats. Blazers were also making an appearance at Patagonia, Isis, Ojai and Gramicci.

>> Fitting challenge: While its designs for fall 2007 were not new, Stonewear Design offers its best-selling Stonewear pant in three inseams -- regular, petite and long -- and in a size range from XS to XXL to fit women from size 0 to size 18. The company also offers its Meridian capri and pant in XS to XXL sizing. We commend companies that pay attention to size 16 and 18 women as well as petite and "long" women. They are fit, and they are out there.

>> On the road: The big news at ExOfficio is the addition of travel outerwear in a soft stretch fabric the company calls Barometric. It's a three-layer, non-seam-sealed waterproof/breathable fabric available for men in a standout pieces like the Stretch Tech sweater (MSRP $130) and the Barometric Stretch jacket (MSRP $90). Women's styles include the Barometric Stretch jacket (MSRP $130) and vest (MSRP $85). Barometric Twill fabric is also incorporated in urban-inspired styles that include a good-looking women's trench (MSRP $170) and a men's trench (MSRP $130).

>> Pessimistic optimist?: When we saw this company at Winter Market, we didn't know whether to laugh or run the other way. Life is Crap (www.lifeiscrap.com) is offering up graphics of bummer situations (i.e., a bear ripping into a camper's tent) with Life is Crap written underneath. The company is hoping we'll all get the joke, saying it believes that poking fun at ourselves, and the world, is the best way to get through those occasional lousy moments. Of course, SNEWS® wonders if the Life is Good team feels so full of humor and giggles about this obvious sarcastic play on an their established brand name?

>> Lighten up: Ditch the vest, jacket and purse for Xubaz's reversible scarf. Plain on one side and lined with four pockets on the other, the scarf can carry lightweight items, like a passport, boarding pass, credit cards, keys, glasses, phone and MP3 player. It also comes with the removable Xues accessory -- grip straps that attach to the Xubaz and to the wearer's waistband or belt loops for security or to withstand windy days. It's available in three lengths, two fabrications and six colors (MSRP $40-$50). www.xubaz.com

>> Knittin' time:Horny Toad's Snow said the trend for sweaters is moving away from middle of the road lambswool weight sweaters and toward the extremes: finer or chunkier. Easy care takes precedent -- especially for men -- and all Horny Toad's sweaters this season are machine washable and super wearable. Mid-weight sweaters are gone and have been replaced by whisper-light sweaters that fall into the Supa Fine category, or chunky but soft sweaters…. White Sierra offered more sweaters using Pica fleece and chenille -- both buttery soft to the touch and washable -- in a variety of colors to meet retailer demand of wanting to see more colors…. Néve Designs has more fun with sweaters than anyone else out there. Oprah Winfrey thinks so too, and chose the ladies Annabelle Sweater to feature in her magazine. The company's sweaters for men and women are constructed of ultra-fine merino wool, and our favorite picks for women were the op art Trudy cardigan in five color combinations and the Lulu vest in oversized polka dots in vibrant colors of pink/charcoal, wine/charcoal, purple/olive, flame/fuchsia and apple/bright blue. For guys, the Kicking Horse sweater is a winner. Coordinating scarves and hats, round out the assortment. (MSRP for all sweaters $118-$149, with the average at $138)…. Royal Robbins said it has expanded its sweater offering and is being recognized as a true sweater vendor…. Indigenous Designs now offers the "Novelty Lodge" collection of hand-knit, 100-percent organic cotton sweaters. The Flower pullover (MSRP $115) stands out…. Once known for its novelty fleeces, Tsunami has added a great line of novelty sweaters, some enzyme washed in hooded, cardigan and crew styles. The full zip Catalpa Jacket (MSRP $125) sports an attractive contemporary pattern, while the Tupelo Hooded Jacket (MSRP $99) is a reversible soft shell.

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