On-mountain trends combine fashion, functionality
Park City skiers and snowboarders wanting to keep up with the latest on-mountain trends need to go no farther than to their favorite resort or winter sports shop. Already the new "it" has begun to emerge.
SnowSports Industries America said that last winter Americans spent an estimated $2.3 billion on snow sports equipment, apparel and accessories at the 6,956 snow sports retailers throughout the country. Winter sports are booming as many of the 478 winter resorts in the U.S., which attracted a total of 58,896,971 ski and/or snowboarders during the winter of 2005-06, set records. Utah was no exception.
Alicia Allen, SIA spokesperson, said the growth of the snow sports industry has lead to significant advancements in both snow sports fashion and technology. Without losing functionality, she said, everything is becoming much more in line with current trends.
"The snow sports industry has done a great job in straddling the line between fashion and function," Allen said. "There are so many great companies out there at making functional pieces that perform incredibly, but now they look great as well. You’re seeing a lot of fashion trends in general that are moving over to snow sports, without sacrificing function."
For apparel, Allen said everything is moving toward more streamlined, close-to-the-body fits, with thinner fabric. With the advancements in technology, she said, the thinner material will still keep people warm.
"Whereas years ago everything was puffy, apparel companies have now found a way to streamline their looks and bring the clothes in to your body, yet still be warmer than before," she said. "Things like soft-shell jackets are being worn as the outer layer, and people love it."
Just as in the fashion world, prints are gaining clout in the snow sports world. Allen said plaids, stripes, polka dots and other patterns are catching on.
"For this season, in terms of design, there are a lot of patterns: herringbones and tweeds, and the like," she said. "You’re also seeing evolutions like camouflage, which is coming back, or even adding color and still keeping the camouflage pattern."
As for colors, earth tones, khakis and chocolate browns are hot, Allen said, but the barrage of greens will be the most noticeable. Slime, lime, acid, sage, hazel, mossy, Kelly, avocado, olive no matter the hue, Allen said green is the "it" color for 2006-07.
"Apparel companies are just having fun with patterns and color this year, but with the key component of function," she said.
Another revolution has been in women’s apparel. In the past, women were forced to buy men’s wear, just in a smaller size. Allen said that is no longer the case.
"It used to be that women would just buy a small in a men’s jacket, while now there are women’s lines everywhere you look," she said. "A women’s line will be more of a streamlined fit, more contoured, a shorter waist, and a lot of faux fur."
Continuing along the lines of functionality and style, Allen said snow sports equipment, such as skis and snowboards, have continued to evolve.
"If you purchased skis last year and purchased again this year, you would notice some minor improvements in technology that would make the newer skis give a better, smoother, tighter ride," she said. "People will be able to ski longer because the skis are doing more work, and holding a better edge. The equipment has been designed to be more responsive to the various conditions met on the mountain."
Five years ago companies were creating exchangeable systems that could be modified as conditions changed. This year the same companies are moving back toward ease and overall performance. Allen said retailers and manufacturers have even changed how they talk about equipment.
"I think the trends are leaning toward things that might not be seen, but will lead to a much better experience on the snow," she said. "You’ll hear a lot about a ‘tighter ride’ or a ‘smoother transition.’ We’ve been trying to get away from the technical jargon and move toward a simpler language about how the experience on the mountain will be better."
Retail shops are also becoming more "user friendly," she said. People want one-stop shopping, and the stores have changed to provide that. Whether it’s snowboards or skis, cross-country or downhill, shops are beginning to carry it all even twin-tip skis.
"Twin tips are still going strong in product sales," Allen said. "That is certainly a trend that is not going away. Free skiing, which has a little bit of the snowboard culture built into it, is starting to get its own brands."
MP3 players are also changing snow sports technology. Jackets, pants, helmets and gloves are all changing to be more compatible with portable music players. Even sunglasses have turned to tunes.
For more information on current on-mountain trends, visit http://www.snowlink.com. Two upcoming retailer shows, SIA.07 and the Outdoor Retailer Show, will take place in January. SIA.07 will be in Las Vegas from Jan. 22-25 and the Outdoor Retailer Show will be at Brighton Ski Resort from Jan. 25-30.
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