Color will dot the slopes in 2007
When barreling down the slopes, Park City adventurers better make sure they have the right stuff and that doesn’t mean just top-of-the-line skis and snowboards.
"People want to look good on the mountain and while having drinks after," said Andy Varner, manager of Max Snowboard Shop.
With 2007-08 lines coming in, people won’t have to sacrifice function for fashion either.
"People are looking for comfort, function and fashion," says Kathy Burke, the soft goods buyer for Cole Sport.
Burke doesn’t order anything that won’t perform.
"The buyers that come in the store think that everything will perform and be functional. They are looking for things that look good on them, they know it will function," Burke said. "It’s a combination of color and fit. (Customers) come in with a confidence that knowing what I’m going to buy will work."
Karen Coleman, the women’s soft goods buyer for Jans Mountain Outfitters follows the same philosophy.
"We buy more functional clothing, functional and fashionable," Coleman said. "Our customers want waterproof and breathable. If it’s not functional we won’t buy it. Our customers are happy when they are warm and dry and they come back for more."
"People want taped seams and waterproofing with fashion," Varner said."
One of the safest forms of what is becoming fashionable on the slopes is helmets.
"Helmets are definitely in style," Varner said.
"We are selling a lot of helmets. Helmets are the norm now," Burke agreed. "It’s becoming a mandatory accessory at this stage. All age groups wear them; kids, children, teens everybody. It’s a standard piece of equipment"
Helmets come in a wide range of prices and styles as well.
"Some have a military influence, some have a race feel, there’s definitely a fashion influence," Burke continued. "If you don’t wear a helmet then you’re not cool."
Coleman, who attended a Rossignol seminar previewing next year’s clothing line, said many of the items are going away from traditional ski wear.
"A lot of the styles tend to be more free-ride," Coleman said. "There was any color you can think of, beautiful color, which is nice to see and it’s less traditional and mechanical."
Burke travels all over the world to trade shows viewing new ski and snowboarding fashions. Recently, she attended an international sales meeting in Switzerland to review a product launch for the new Kjus line. During a fashion runway show, she also observed the trend toward more color on the slopes.
Lasse Kjus won five medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics, including the giant slalom in Park City. He’s retired from racing and is now moving full time into his ski apparel.
"This brand is using a lot of vibrant color," Burke said. "The signature color has been orange, but they are introducing red and doing some really rich dark greens and brown tones in addition to its classic orange, white, black and blue.
"I think the trend in the last few years is color, color is really important on the mountain. The drab look has gone away and it’s nice to see some color on the mountain," Burke said.
Coleman has observed a similar trend.
"Color, patterns and prints and textures are huge," Coleman said.
What may be forgotten is the clothing that can’t be seen. New undergarments can make for a comfortable experience on the slopes.
"Faux fur, fleece and sweaters are still coming on strong," Coleman said. Something that we’re seeing this year is the merino wear."
Merino is wool from sheep in Australia and New Zealand that acts like wool without the itch.
"It’s interesting to see a lot of people are buying it," Coleman said. "It’s wool, but it isn’t itchy. Most people can wear it next to their skin. They are using it for biking and snowshoeing also. Its getting more and more refined."
Technology-based clothing is also on the rise.
Kjus is "introducing an audio jacket, an iPod jacket that’s wired for sound," Burke said. "You can have helmets with bluetooth capabilities and a lot of jackets have that too."
Spyder has done that in the past, but isn’t continuing it in its new line.
"It’s becoming a little bit more mainstream," Burke said. "Many companies are providing jackets wired for sound. I’ve sold a lot of them. It’s a great convenience."
In the past, snowboarding and skiing attire wouldn’t mix but now the crossover is rampant.
"A lot of skiers wear snowboarding gear," Varner said.
"Skiers are wearing snowboard gear, that has merged together, it’s not separated anymore," Burke said.
Coleman, who is mainly involved with ski-wear, has also seen the trend involving a baggier fit to the clothing.
"It’s just a youthful thing," she said. "We just call it ‘free ride.’ We are seeing in each of the lines a free-ride collection. It looks more snowboardy and younger than traditional ski wear. A lot of companies are doing a free-ride, which crosses over toward snowboarding."
Snowboard colors also follow the snowboard style of ski wear.
"People are looking for earth-tones and creative prints like snakeskin and feather camouflage, plaids and embroidery." Varner said. People are still into a loose fit. It was a rocker-style for a season and a half but now its back to baggy."
"Burton has put together patterns and prints and plaids," Burke said. "Mountaineering brand is selling to snowboarders as well as skiers."
While stylin’, Baggy clothes also enhance the skier’s performance, Varner said.
"There’s more movement and it hides crash pads. People don’t want others to know they have pads on if they are a professional athlete," Varner said.
An old trend is starting to work itself back one-piece suits.
"I’m seeing, not the traditional look, but we are seeing something like a mechanic suit. They are really kind of good looking," Coleman said.
Fur is a big thing for women this year.
"In luxury, fur is really important," Burke said. "It’s interesting because we carry so many different ranges. Luxury people want uniqueness, something special and fabrics that feel really good. If you put on a jacket that warrants those things, you can feel a difference."
With many different ways to fashion a skier or snowboarder, cost runs the gamut. A customer can spend anywhere from $200 to $2,500.
"It’s just what you fancy," Burke said.
Regardless of the outdoor apparel desired, Park City isn’t short on equipment and probably has it in some store.
"All I’m seeing is people are shopping," Coleman said. "This town seems to be on fire."
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