OTHER COMPANY NOTES:
Black Diamond still isn’t doing any ski-specific outerwear; everything is climbing/mountaineering specific. They are now using Gore Pro for their hardshells. I would not recommend any hardshell they currently have for skiing, partly because of the climbing fits and lack of powder skirts, but also because of the use of aluminum zipper pulls. Hard, heavy zipper pulls can be an awesome way to chip a tooth in action sports.
They are, however, one of a few companies using new Primaloft Gold, a 70/30 synthetic down blend. This insulation is an interesting alternative to dry down options, and could be a great wet-weather insulation option. Retail prices are pretty dang high though, with the cheapest piece starting at $300 and going up to $1000.
This is Sportiva’s 2nd year of apparel. The Thanos hybrid belay jacket is a cool piece—a very overfilled down jacket with 2L fabric on the yoke and shoulders. I have never seen a piece so overfilled with down.
Fillimore makes interesting jean-style pants that are sewn in the USA. They are very affordable with a cool aesthetic—one of the best faux denim shell fabrics I have seen, it is actually cotton based, not synthetic.
Leather Patch Branding – It’s literally everywhere. It was innovative and retro 3-4 years ago, now it is compulsory for any brand looking for street cred.
So how can you tell if a trend is getting cliché? Check the style leaders. Holden Outerwear doesn’t have a leather patch in sight.
Marketing “The Story” of a Product – Nauseating. It seemed like every time I walked into a booth, I had a marketing guy saying “This product allows us tell a whole new story.” Or, “I love this new color story, it is so exotic.” As far as marketing jargon goes, I give this one a big thumbs down.
Distressed / Waxed Technical Fabrics – This one is somewhat analogous to the leather patches, a trend that was cool 3-4 years ago in streetwear. However, 3-4 years ago, these fabrics weren’t available for technical outerwear. Now you can get distressed or “waxed” fabrics from a slew of companies. My picks for those doing it the best? Burton and DC.
Ski Companies Failing to Innovate in 2L Outerwear – In the name of journalistic integrity, I have to acknowledge that the top innovator in the ski outerwear world from a style standpoint is … Saga. Although I fundamentally disagree with some of their design choices, they are doing it better than any other ski company.
The Orage B-Dog is the only other innovative piece I saw from a ski company at the show.
With snowboarding bringing such hard hitters as Analog and DC, skiing is seriously blowing it. Step up your game, Skiing. I know you can do better.
Design Refinement rather than Design Innovation – Without any big technology releases in outerwear, most companies are focusing on refining existing products. Gore Pro is becoming more prevalent, and although Neoshell is becoming more prevalent too, it is clear that Gore still carries a big stick—there are very few companies using both Gore hardshells and Neoshell, and it is a pretty safe bet that Gore’s licensing agreements have a whole lot to do with that.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for some actual reviews of some of this stuff…