Technicolored ski coats
January 2, 2009
Vintage is the name of the game when it comes to ski and snowboard fashion for 2009. Bright colors, knit caps and one-piece snowsuits are making a comeback, enthusiasts say.
This year’s trends aren’t hard to spot. In colors as patent as M&M’s, skiers and snowboarders fluoresce down the slopes.
"We’re selling bright colors and one-piece suits," explained Tyler Turkington, a salesman at Bazookas Board Shop in Cole Sport.
Neon greens and reds have been hot-ticket items. Much of what sells has to do with aesthetics rather than function, but some of the retro trends will satisfy backcountry codgers with a bent for utility over style and grace. "A lot of it’s just style," Turkington admitted, "but at least one-piece suits keep the snow out of your butts."
While bright stocking caps are popular this year, more people are switching to helmets, and most people prefer conservative colors like black and grey. About 30 percent of helmet-wearers, though, opt for bold colors. For the bravura-filled, gold is a popular color. Others airbrush flames on the headgear, as though they were Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Fashion-forward customers fastidiously match lens color and frames with snow coats and pants. Footwear isn’t exempt from scrutiny and often comes crashing into the panoply like multicolored flags of plaid, purple and what Turkington describes as "bumblebee yellow."
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Girls are usually more audacious than their male counterparts when it comes to donning neon colors and dizzying patterns. One of the bestselling female brands, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Roxy, which often pairs strident patterns with pithy slogans.
It wasn’t long ago, Turkington remembers, femme fatales wore black and grey hunkered down on the lifts and tear down the mountains, women after his own heart.
Like grunge, the camouflage/flannel revolution is over, most agree.
Some have replaced it with form-fitting jackets and pants. The so-called "emo" or "hesh," is an offshoot of skinny jeans and remains popular among preteen boys and trickster in the snow parks. Many of them aspire to a more urban aesthetic. Read: hip-huggers without the fun of flare.
Despite variations on fit and style, baggy snow pants remain, by far, the most popular fit for younger enthusiasts. Recently, Turkington sold a pair of men’s extra large pants and an equally oversized jacket to a teenage girl.
and large, the distinction between ski and snowboard apparel has melded, although a number of customers still ask for apparel and accessories specific to their sport. It’s a distinction that’s lost on some retailers. "You can’t really tell if someone is a skier or snowboarder until you look at their boots," Turkington admitted.
Sustainability, not fashion, is the biggest change in performance apparel for the new year, according to Jesse Cloupe of Peak Experience, a ski and snowboard rental shop on Iron Horse Drive that also sells hats and gloves. In addition to being eco-friendly, customers purchase gear that is stylish and utilitarian. Cloupe, a backcountry skier, prefers SmartWool socks and long underwear because he claims they are less itchy and more resistant to shrinking and retaining odor than traditional wool and polyester.
SmartWool comes from New Zealand’s specially bred free- range Merino sheep and the company has been praised for its sustainable business practices.
When Cloupe skis in the backcountry, he said he doesn’t care much for appearance. He simply wears hats and gloves that keep him warm.
Skiers and snowboarders who prefer the park scene tend to wear gear more urban in appearance that mimics street clothes. Sales for billed caps remain strong, but Cloupe said traditional stocking caps with balls sewn to the tips have made a comeback in the last year.
Coats and ski pants designed to look like jean material are hot-ticket items for snow-park trendsetters, but matching top-to-bottom is less important than it used to be, said skier Shane Peet, who works as the assistant manager at Utah Ski and Golf near the Town Lift on Park Avenue.
Peet has sold a number of deliberately mismatched color combinations this year. Patrons combine bright-blue coats with green bottoms. For enthusiasts who don’t want solid colors, the store sells collage-like patterns of everything from grenades to checkers.
Like many skiers and riders, Peet’s must-have hardware doesn’t stop at boots and bindings. He needs headphones and an mp3 player for ski days. He recommended the popular Skullcandy brand to deliver style and quality sound.