The retail landscape, as of late, has been described as “evolving” by the more tactful among us, “dying at an unprecedented rate” by our more pessimistic counterparts, and “in dire need of a revamp” by the majority of those paying attention. If you hadn’t read the doom and gloom headlines that have dominated trade magazines and consumer publications for the last year, however, and were just exposed to the showroom floor of the Outdoor Retailer January 2018 show, you might think differently.
The outdoor industry is built on a the backs of those with a few characteristics in common. These attributes separate them from mainstream society in the first place: Tenacity, passion, and courage to see beyond the status quo.
That energy, those attributes, balloon and multiply at Outdoor Retailer. We’re among kindred spirits, after all. Like a buoyant gas, they meld together on the showroom floor and permeate the colossal convention center. And that’s all multiplied by the friends you haven’t seen in six months, the incredible product that is changing the industry, the pursuits we know and love, and perhaps most importantly, the general consensus that to protect our pursuits, we must protect the natural landscapes and habitats that allowed them to come to fruition in the first place.
Last week’s show proved to even the most pessimistic among us that there is hope and talent in this industry, and that it shows most of all through the product they choose to create. The re-usable water bottles, the recycled materials, the responsible sourcing of said materials. After all, just because a tradeshow is built on selling product doesn’t mean it can’t be a hub of innovation and creativity.
Here’s what caught our eye, made us stop in our tracks, and had us genuinely excited for the fall to come from Outdoor Retailer January 2018.
Reporting and Photos by Hayley Helms and Kailee Bradstreet
When a brand makes a concentrated effort to support the lands we love, that’s something we can get behind. When that brand produces gear with an elevated aesthetic that provides a worthy homage to our public lands - well, let’s just say our dreams have sort of come true.
For 2018, Parks Project continues to make moves into the home goods and accessories market, with new versions of their popular candles, hats, socks and more. The brand is also working with multiple conservancies over the next year to support public lands.
We’ve seen Richer Poorer evolve over the last few years from a lifestyle brand, to one that incorporates their fresh aesthetic into sustainable, outdoor-focused pieces as well as those you’ll want to lounge in all day and all night long.
With their new line that incorporates recycled plastics into classic silhouettes, Richer Poorer continues to cement themselves into the industry.
Looking down then line, it’s clear to see the evolution of Richer Poorer’s easy-to-wear, hard-to-get-out-of pieces will continue to progress in 2018. Stay tuned for more.
Accessible price point, meet modern design. Combine that with lightweight frames designed to be worn in the most active pursuits, as well as on errands around town, and you’ve got Sunski.
We were impressed with their Spring/Summer 2018 line, which incorporates fresh colorways and playful takes on heritage frame design.
We’re suckers for new tech, but at this show, SPY took the cake with their light-shifting goggle, the Ace EC with One Lens Technology.
With one click on the temple of the goggle, electrical impulses change the lens, transitioning from light to dark conditions, depending on what you’ll need.
One charge provides 600 lens changes, so even if your friends steal your pair to show off to all their friends at the bar, you’ll still be good to go in the morning when conditions are variable.
Keeping with the spirit of innovation, Oakley also introduced a light-shifting lens technology in its new Prism React Goggle, set to retail at $299 this fall. The tech essentially combines three goggle lenses into one, allowing you to shift from low, to medium, to dark light with a click of a button.
The technology lives inside a small control panel neatly sandwiched between the goggle’s inner foam lining, with a lightweight rechargeable battery pack that can last up to a week depending on the frequency of use, and takes about 2 hours to charge. Prism React hits the market in October 2018.
Known as the creators of the Chelsea Boot, Blundstone has a heritage in the footwear industry that’s unparalleled.
This year, they’re shaking things up by introducing more of their womens-specific sizes, a recent integration into their product offering that has seen a lot of traction since its debut.
For the first time, Patagonia is introducing a collection dedicated to the cold-weather runner. The Peak Mission jacket and tights for men and women are new for fall 2018 and provide wind resistance with a ripstop shell at the front, combined with a panel built into the back that releases body heat.
The Capilene Merino collection has also been reinvigorated, with an update to the merino wool blend, making it that much softer to the touch.
It’s also worth mentioning that despite its commitment to innovation, Patagonia is still acknowledging its past. The Arbor Pack is the perfect balance of these two things: it’s made with 100 percent recycled materials -- a first in Patagonia backpacks -- and it features a retro-styling that nods to the company’s heritage.
Part of Dakine’s new “Ready to Roll” campaign for fall, the signature roll-top pack features its airbag system tech.
The bag marks the first time the company has presented the tech in a roll-top format, making the airbag system easily re-packable after being deployed.
This heavy-weight fleece from Goldwin wasn’t overly soft, so we weren’t worried about it being too delicate to wear in the great outdoors, but still soft enough that the coziness just wouldn’t quit.
Goldwin is primarily known for their ski apparel, and this jacket was a popular choice at this winter’s show.
Snow Peak put forward a strong apparel collection for this show, keeping in line with their minimal, streamlined aesthetic that incorporates performance fabrics and elevated design details.
Vans is restructuring the way they display and organize their boots, enhancing the consumer experience and making choosing the boot for your skill level a breeze.
The top shelf will include the Pro Spec Line, and the shoes and footwear with all of the “bells and the whistles.” The Original Spec line will inhabit the middle shelf, utilizing high end materials and technology.
The bottom shelf will round out the collection, holding the entry level boots. All shelves will feature a mix of Boa, laces, and hybrid options.
Based in Encinitas, California, Vuori got its start from the founder’s roots in yoga -- which, at the time, did not have big men’s apparel offering. Now, the company is seeing success as it branches off into a broader fitness lifestyle offering.
On the women’s side, we were impressed with the performance joggers, that could easily transition from a quick run at the beach to a coffee shop meet-up.
Since men’s apparel is where it got started, Vuori is stepping up that offering, too. For fall, you’ll see this transitional boardshort, which can be worn either in or out of the water and features moisture wicking for those moments when life takes you directly from the ocean or your workout to the next thing on your to-do list.
Unisex continues to be a big push for brands, and Zeal Optics’ new frame takes sharing apparel to a new level, with elevated design details that keep their new frames from falling too much into one category. The Crowley, seen above, launch this month at retail for $149.
Spring’ backpacking options from Osprey had us itching to get out on the trail. Attendees of the show (as well as the brand) were particularly excited about the Eja pack, a perfect option for someone looking for a lighter pack, but without the need for an ultralight option.
Osprey’s newest travel option, the Ozone Duplex, is a two-in-one bag designed for making travel as seamless as possible: one harness, two packs, with a backpacking frame for carrying ease.
It places heavier, more valuable items near the back, mimicking the design of backpacking options that distribute weight in a thoughtful way.
Welcome to the world, OtterBox soft coolers! The OtterBox Trooper LT 30, seen here, is one of three soft options the brand debuted at the January 2018 show, and each had positive reaction from buyers and retailers alike. The soft coolers, like the Venture Series, feature a custom mounting system and convert from shoulder to backpack carry.
With sustainability as the cornerstone of all they do, prAna is making a big push into the hemp apparel movement, incorporating the material into many pieces and making it the largest offering to date for the company’s fall collection.
Women’s fitness got a facelift, and caught our eye, with updated fits and styles in leggings, sports bras and athletic tops for fall ’18.
Originally based in the UK, Roamer is making their transition to the United States: the brand has a workwear-inspired vibe, and plans to introduce more sustainable materials into their products, including hemp and organic cotton.
adidas Outdoor had exciting news to share at this winter’s show: they’ve now got a full apparel line of their adidas Outdoor x Parley collaboration, with each piece made completely out of recycled ocean plastics.
Any element of the apparel that isn’t made from ocean plastics is made from recycled plastics sourced elsewhere, making this the most sustainable collection adidas Outdoor has to offer.
An overview of what Rumpl has to offer: the brand has come a long way from their initial blanket that spurred an outdoor textile movement and launched their brand to popularity.
Rumpl showed their ponchos at the show, which integrate more rugged fabrics to support playing in the outdoors. The ponchos launched on Kickstarter for Holiday 2017, and sold out immediately. The ponchos also unsnap to form a blanket, making them a versatile piece.
For Fall 2018, Toad & Co will continue to expand on their eco-friendly selection of laying and outerwear pieces. This sherpa bomber was a hit at the show.
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