Tag Archives | Ski Fashion

Highlights for Women from the 2017 SIA Show.

Since they haven’t yet perfected human cloning, I wasn’t able to attend the annual SIA Show in Denver a couple weeks ago. In case you don’t know, this is the snow sports industries’ biggest trade show, showcasing the latest trends, innovations, product lines, and styles. But the winter season is short, and there’s just too much going on for me to be everywhere at once.

Fortunately for me, Bobby Monacella, who writes  DC Ski Mom  and the SIA blog Snow Source, came through with her take on the highlights for women at this year’s show. So take it away, Bobby!

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New Women’s-Specific Technology and Design are Among the Highlights From the 2017 SIA Snow Show

The SIA Snow Show takes place every January at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center. It’s where over 80% of all ski and snowboard manufacturers and apparel makers come together to display their lines for the upcoming season to retailers from across the country. I got a sneak peek of some of the best gear, apparel and accessories for women that will be available for the 17/18 season and I’m excited to share my favorites with you!

Ski companies are really starting to wake up to the fact that women make up 41% of the market, and that we do 95% of the decision making about where the money gets spent in our families. Each year, ski companies are realizing more and more that they need to keep women happy. This means admitting that women are not small men, and that we have specific needs and performance demands from our gear.

“The bottom line is that if mama’s not having fun, no one’s having fun,” says Kim Walker, owner of Outdoor Divas in Vail, CO – the only woman-owned, women’s-specific ski shop in the country. “And each year we have more opportunity to offer equipment for women that allows them to truly have a great experience on the hill. Finally, women’s boots are made for women’s feet, and women’s stances, and allow women to be comfortable and warm, which then helps them want to stay out all day and return again and again. This is what manufacturers are finally realizing – that if you keep mom on the hill and keep her happy, you gain a whole family of lifelong customers.”

For 17/18, lightweight is definitely the trend in women’s boots and skis. Along with women’s-specific fit, this allows more control over your equipment, and therefore better performance, which equals more fun!

In boots, comfort is key for 17/18 with moldable liners and walk-to-ride tech that makes getting around the lodge a lot easier. A few standouts include:

  • The K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat has an integrated Therm-ic heat system built into the liner which you charge with a USB cable. It also comes in a softer flexing version, the Spyre 90 Heat.
  • The Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV, which was developed by a panel of top bootfitters and female testers, features a pliable upper cuff heated to fit the calf and merino wool in the liner for extra warmth.
  • The Roxa R3 Series is one of the lightest high performance alpine boots available for 17/18. It’s available in a freeride hike/ski model, a freeski model for all mountain performance, and the R3 105 W TI, a high-performance 4-buckle model.
 L to R: Roxa R3 105 W TI, K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat, and Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV

L to R: Roxa R3 105 W TI, K2 W-SP Spyre 100 Heat, and Tecnica Mach 1 Pro WLV

 

For skis, the focus for 17/18 is on new shapes that offer front-side carving performance but also allow for all-mountain versatility. My favorites included:

  • The Blizzard Sheeva 10 is a lightweight, completely women-specific design that won the SKI Magazine Hot Gear Award for its innovative technology. Blizzard is heavily invested in developing women’s technology with its Women-to-Women Initiative, which involves women in the design process from start to finish. It really shows with the Sheeva 10, which is getting consistent accolades from women testers.
  • The Nordica Astral 84 has new materials and a race-inspired shape, with a rigid tail and wider tip, that allows for superior performance while keeping the ski lightweight and easy to turn.
  • The Elan Ripstick 86W has a women’s-specific tube-filled wood core for lightweight performance and a rocker/camber profile which allows for easy turning.

 

L to R: The Nordica Astral 84, Blizzard Sheeva 10, and Elan Ripstick 86W

L to R: The Nordica Astral 84, Blizzard Sheeva 10, and Elan Ripstick 86W

Base and Mid Layers

This is my favorite category because some of the best brands are women-owned or women-centric, and have great corporate ethics as well as super cute designs.

Krimson Klover, owned by the amazing business powerhouse Rhonda Swensen, makes fabulous traditional ski sweaters, merino dresses and capes, but the base layers are my favorites because the prints are amazing and they’re super soft. The Mikaela Top and matching Victoria Bottoms have a fun Scandinavian design and are 100% merino.

Kari Traa is another base layer favorite mainly because the prints and colors are so great. They have a fun, energetic feel that reflects the personality of Kari Traa herself, a Norwegian Olympic freestyle skier who started the company as an antidote to the “boring black base layers” her sponsors gave her. Many of her designs echo her Norwegian heritage with plays on traditional prints in super fun colors. The new Akle LS Top features Henley snaps and extra long cuffs for a cozy feel. Kari Traa is also introducing a great new midlayer jacket for 17/18, the Svala. It has dry release technology to keep you warm, dry and looking awesome.

Another fun midlayer/apres ski/athleisure – I’m not actually sure what to call it – layer is SmartWool’s Urban Upslope Cape. It looks like it’d be really comfy and easy to throw on after a day on the mountain and it’s a fun alternative to your traditional down vest. It has quilted wind-resistant poly-fill on the outside, and is reversible to a grey camo print merino on the inside. The cozy hood and wool lined pockets make it a great apres-ski option. Plus I love SmartWool because they have a staunch commitment to gender equality and women’s leadership in the company.

Clockwise from top left: Krimson Klover Mikaela Top, SmartWool Urban Upslope Poncho, Kari Traa Akle LS Top, and Kari Traa Svala Jacket

Clockwise from top left: Krimson Klover Mikaela Top, SmartWool Urban Upslope Poncho, Kari Traa Akle LS Top, and Kari Traa Svala Jacket

 

Outerwear

Kjus introduced a new knitted technology for 17/18, with the Freelite Jacket. It’s an incredible ultra-stretch jacket with fully knitted shell, insulation and lining layers. It feels like you’re wearing a sweater, but it’s a totally weatherproof coat that looks amazing.

L to R: The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket, Strafe Scarlett Bib, and Kjus Freelite Jacket

L to R: The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket, Strafe Scarlett Bib, and Kjus Freelite Jacket

The Obermeyer Double Dare 4-in-1 Jacket won SKI Magazine’s Hot Gear award for its good looks and zip-out primaloft liner that can be worn alone or with the shell layer. It’s a great year for the win, since Obermeyer is celebrating its 70th anniversary. 96-year-old Klaus Obermeyer was on hand at the Show as always, and delivered his traditional yodel at the closing bell.

Bibs are still on-trend for women’s bottoms, and the Strafe Scarlett Bib got a lot of attention for its innovative halter design. The design allows you to heed nature’s call without having to remove your jacket, so it’s a plus for backcountry pursuits or generally hassle-free potty stops. The eVent shell membrane keeps you warm and dry and the styling is feminine with a great range of colors.

Accessories

Okay, I admit it, I have a thing for hats. I have so many favorites – but I’ll try to pare it down to a bare minimum!

One of my all-time favorites is Skida, founded by the fabulous Corinne Prevot. As a Nordic skier in high school she began sewing the hats for friends and now the brand has exploded and is sold across the country. She employs women in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where garment sewing was a tradition for generations until the mills and factories closed their doors. Now they put those skills to work on the super fun hats and neck gaiters that Corinne designs. She also launched a cashmere line a few years back, and employs women knitters in Nepal where she did a semester during her Middlebury College years. Her latest creations for 17/18 are just as colorful and energetic as always, and are a perennial favorite.

L to R: Sh*t I Knit fur pom pom hat, Skida’s 2017 Snow Show booth, Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie

L to R: Sh*t I Knit fur pom pom hat, Skida’s 2017 Snow Show booth, Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie

A newcomer at the Snow Show this year, Christina Fagan introduced her Boston-based headwear company, Sh*t That I Knit. The name was just a tongue in cheek title for the website she started to share her knitting creations with friends and family. Eventually the designs caught on, and she was selling more than she could knit on her own. She moved her production to Lima, Peru, where she sources her merino and employs moms and other women knitters who work from home to create her beautiful designs.

One more great new hat design that I have to mention is the Turtle Fur Reflective Beanie. It has a fully reflective design built into the flower print, so it’s an incredible addition to any runner’s, dog walker’s or night-time Nordic skier’s ensemble. During the day the flowers sparkle, and at night they’re reflective. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I thought it was too cool to pass up.

My hands are always cold, so of course my favorite glove offering for 17/18 is the new Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Glove. Thanks to a lithium battery, it touts 12 hours of heat at the touch of the button, which sounds like a dream come true to me. Plus I love their company because CFO Wendy Carey is such a strong force for women’s leadership within the snow sports industry.

L to R: Giro Ella Women’s Goggles, Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Gloves, Zeal Portal Goggle

L to R: Giro Ella Women’s Goggles, Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire Gloves, Zeal Portal Goggle

I’m a Giro gal when it comes to helmets, so I was excited to see the new Giro Ella Women’s Goggle. It’s a frameless design with quick-change magnetic lenses. It’s also co-branded with Zeiss Optics so they have superior optical clarity, and all for a really reasonable price.

Another cool new goggle option is from Zeal, with their newly launched Rail-Lock technology. The Portal Goggle has rails on the sides of the frame that allow you to slide, click and lock interchangeable lenses without ever touching the lens surface.

With so many new designs and so much innovative technology focused on women’s products at the Show, it’s hard to stop gushing about all the amazing new offerings for 17/18. These highlights are definitely the cream of the crop that caught my eye, and I’m sure they’ll be well worth the investment when they hit stores next fall.

Until then, here’s to a great end to the 16/17 season – cheers to all the ski divas hitting the slopes and loving life! As Klaus Obermeyer told me, “Life is great because of skiing; it should always be fun and make your life wonderful!”

 

Bobby Monacella is a freelance writer who focuses on the subject of raising outdoor kids. She also writes about the business of snow sports, with the occasional update on the perils of climate change and craft brewery reviews thrown in here and there. As a former ski patroller, instructor, and eventually marketer at Breckenridge, Sugarbush, and Stowe, Bobby brings over 25 years of industry perspective to her writing. You can find her at DC Ski Mom and at SIA’s Snow Source blog. View her profile at LinkedIn.



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I’m an #Omniten!

What’s an #Omniten?

Actually, it’s something that’s pretty damned cool.

Columbia Sportswear has asked to include me in a group of ten people whom they term  “particularly influential in the outdoor industry, both on and offline.” Members get early access to Columbia’s new technologies and gear, as well as opportunities to test it out in “epic locations” (their words, not mine, though I can’t wait to find out exactly what this means).  In return, Columbia asks for honest feedback on their products, and for members to share our feedback with the social media world .

OmnitenOf course I’ve accepted.  I’m not crazy. I love to try new gear. The box you see in the pic contained a Millenium Blur jacket, Bugaboo pants, Bugaboo interchange gloves, a midweight 1/2 zip top,  a midweight pair of tights, and a balaclava.

Does all this mean I’m going to automatically give Columbia a free pass? Will I say that everything they make is marvelous and  you should all run out and buy it right away?

Not hardly.

I don’t do a ton of reviews, but when I do, I pride myself on being honest and objective. I’m right up front about that with anyone who sends me stuff.  And yes, I’m still going to review other products, too. In fact, I have a jacket from Free Country already in the queue, once it gets cold enough to try it out.

That said, I have to hand it to Columbia. The idea of having a group of ten company outsiders on hand to try out new stuff, provide them with feedback, and post reviews  is marketing genius, and something I think all companies should do. And I also give them a big thumbs up for reaching out to me, a representative of the women’s ski market. Because even though a lot of companies make women’s gear, frankly, I hear from very, very few. And as someone who used to be in advertising and who’s now the administrator for the leading online community of women skiers, I’ve always thought this was somewhat of a failing.

So yes, in the coming season, you’re going to see reviews for Columbia. But never fear, I have not been co-opted, bought, or turned into a Columbia zombie. I’m just a girl who’s now an #Omniten. And I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

 

 



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How to dress up a helmet.

My husband had a nasty fall on Friday. I knew it was bad when I heard  a crack as his head slammed down on the hard pack.

Luckily, he was wearing a helmet, and except for a little neck and shoulder soreness, he came out of it okay. Phew.

I don’t mean to turn this into a piece about whether or not helmets makes sense. People seem to feel pretty passionately about this one way or the other, so I’ll just direct you to a recent article in the NY Times on the value of wearing a helmet.  (Go here.)  Me, I’m definitely in the pro-helmet camp. Hey, I’d wrap myself in bubble wrap if it’d keep me from getting injured.

One of the objections some people have about helmets is that they’re not very attractive. I think that’s become less of an argument now that they’re more common. But there are things you can do to make your helmet look a little bit less like a bowling ball. A friend of mine decorates hers with stickers.

Hey, isn’t that a SkiDiva sticker I see on there?

But stickers aren’t for everyone. For those who like a bit more style, here’s another option: A helmet band from Helmet BandIts. This is a velcro strap you can fasten around your helmet to turn it into a real fashion statement.

Here I am wearing one at Wildcat (NH), on my recent Ski Safari:

Rawhr!

What I like about it is that it’s easy to put on and take off, so you can either wear it or not, depending on your mood. It stays on, too. I wore it up the lift in a pretty stiff wind, and skied down without it coming loose or falling off. The BandIts come in a variety of fur options. But don’t worry — this is faux fur, so no animals were harmed. Another cool thing: apres ski, you can take it off and use it as a scarf to dress up your jacket or sweater. There are matching wrist cuffs, too.

What you do with your helmet is up to you. Leave it alone, plaster it with stickers, dress it up with a Helmet BandIt. But really, the most important thing is to wear one. I do. And I’m sure glad my husband does, too.

 



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On Pockets: The Forgotten Ski Accessory

So how do you feel about pockets? Are you for ’em? Against ’em? Or are you pocket  neutral?

I happen to really like pockets, at least in ski jackets. Must be because of all the crap I carry. Let’s see….what do I have in here [rummage, rummage]….my license, a credit card, tea bags, SkiDiva stickers, an energy bar, handwarmers, my phone — you know, the essentials. Plus I need a place to stash stuff, as the day goes on. What if my glove liners come off? My gaiter? I need the r-o-o-o-o-o-m.

Some of the stuff from my pockets.

I can’t help but think I’m not alone. Skiing is a pretty equipment-intense sport. You need lots of things, so you have to have a place to put them..

But all jacket manufacturers don’t seem to feel that way. Because when I recently went jacket shopping,  I was shocked to learn that some jackets have hardly any pockets at all.

Case in point: I found a jacket I totally fell in love with. Great fit, beautiful color, good wind and water resistance, right amount of insulation. But — it only had two hand pockets. None on the inside at all. This wasn’t a crappy piece of merchandise, either. It was a $330. jacket made by TheNorthFace (yes, it was on sale). Did I get it? No. And yes, the pockets were the deal breaker.

It’s a matter of  functionality. Yes, of course I want to look good. And I can appreciate that a designer might feel that an extra pocket could interrupt the flow of design, the way the jacket hangs on the body, the way it looks.

All I have to say is, this designer must be someone who doesn’t ski.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much. But if you want to get into my pocket, first you gotta give me some pockets. Case closed.



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