LATEST TRENDS FOR SKI AND SNOWBOARD WEAR
The best thing about ski and snowboard wear is that it can cover practically every pore, to protect head to foot from extreme weather. But, as well as the cold, not many germs can penetrate a skier's or snowboarder's all-covering combo of helmet, goggles, buff, weather-resistant jacket, proofed pants and arctic-worthy gloves. Besides a hazmat suit what could be more reassuring than ski and snowboard gear this winter? You may even want to wear it to the supermarket.
Style Altitude Ski and Snowboard Wear Trend Overview
Apart from a mandatory mask in ski resorts, what's new for ski and snowboard wear, this winter season? Style-wise we've got to say not a lot. It's still gnar versus gloss. Favouring backcountry performance, gnar is the look for freeriders (and those who want to look like they've been hanging out in La Grave) plus anyone wishing to self-isolate inside the tech layers and latest all-covering combos and one-pieces offering the ultimate protection - from backcountry blizzards or COVID contagion.
However, gloss is for glamour performance, sleek body fit lines, bling and faux fur for any piste poseur who'd rather do champagne than champagne powder.
But what's really new is the increase in gear with green credentials with the planet-saving message now emanating from even the dinosaur brands who have been stuck in the dark PFC planet-polluting ages. No more greenwashing. If you're an outdoor snow sports company you now have to walk the talk as there is no way you can't be involved in actively protecting the environment that is your one reason for existing although, it has to be said, some are much more pro-actively involved than others.
We salute Picture Organic, pioneers of organic, recycled, ethically-sourced, non-chemical, PFC-free treatments, who are once again trail-blazing with bio-based fabrics for this winter, hailed by the ski wear industry as another significant sustainable step for ski and snowboard clothing manufacture.
Here at Style Altitude we've been shouting from the mountain summits about the pollution from PFC chemicals, the benefits of recycling and need to go eco since we put word to web seven years ago - and we've championed Protect Our Winters following a very long talk with Jeremy Jones during our first winter in 2014.
Now we don't even use lifts for skiing if we have the choice of ski touring. And maybe that's the way it's going to go, this winter, for many who want to avoid the coronavirus chaos in resorts.
If so, we predict a boom in Rando style, quality and lightweight gear, each piece needing high performance credentials to earn its place in your touring kit. The puffa - whether jacket, gilet or mid-layer- is still key for tourers being essentially light and warm and packable. The latest Summit Series L3 50/50 down jacket, above, from The North Face is all these things, selected by ISPO as Product of the Year 2020. If you want to get away from it all in the backcountry with a tent, an ice pick and a thermos, then this is your jacket - and if you just want to stay warm and look cool on the chairlift this is also your jacket.
Or you could wear the Farbaute, below, from Swedish brand, Klättermusen, makers of the world's most refined mountaineering equipment who have just launched their first ever ski mountaineering capsule collection. The Farbaute is hailed as the first fully organically insulated jacket made from 100 percent organic cotton, Proof yet again that eco outerwear is the future, ISPO gave the Farbaute two awards, Gold in the Outdoors category and also the Sustainability Achievement Award with the judges commending its performance credentials as in durability, functionality and design.
If you want to help the environment by leaving uphill boot prints rather than carbon footprints, think twice, these eco-days, before buying gear that's reliant on fossil fuel for manufacture and PFC chemicals for proofing. Just check the label or technical info online.
The Ski and Snowboard Wear Buyers' Views
But what do the threadheads, the ski and snowboard retail buying pros who select the kit, have to say about this winter's ski and snowboard wear? We asked Dave Whitlow, Clothing Buyer and Creative Director for the UK's major snowsports retail store, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, Chris Orchard, Clothing Buyer at The Snowboard Asylum and Jonny Berry, Style Guru for the largest independent UK retailer, Snowtrax.
What is the main trend for ski and snowboard clothing 2021?
Ellis Brigham: The skiwear scene really splits into three overall looks or attitudes:
PISTE - Seen carving perfect turns on groomed pistes and looking fabulous at après, this is classic, sophisticated and technical skiwear with racing or couture influences. Elegant monochrome tones and authentic reds and blues dominate the colour palate.
FREERIDE - This is where we turn up the fun and the old rules are bent and broken. Performance is high but style and freedom are also key. Targeting the adventurous freeride skier charging all over the mountain, this clothing combines high levels of all-weather performance with on-point team sports and workwear inspired styling. Bold colour blocking or military hues give easy slope to street wearability.
BACKCOUNTRY – A category that really looks at outerwear as equipment. This clothing thrives in savage wind-scoured high altitude terrain and frigid bottomless-snow back bowls. Targeting all backcountry aspirations from lift-access sidecountry and hike-to-ride powder stashes, to full day ski tours, this is a predominantly shell clothing category delivering a lean and mean package with uncompromising performance.
Snowtrax: A main trend for 2021 sees brands bringing more streetwear style clothing into the technical/functional side of the market. There has been a big buzz around K ratings in clothing recently (the rating system which relates to a garment's waterproof and breathability capabilities) and you can really see it in products this year.
When you combine these waterproof and breathability improvements with a focus on environmental factors, both in the production, distribution and what’s inside the clothing, it’s clear that ski and snowboard clothing is at the best level it’s ever been.
The Snowboard Asylum: Performance. Skiers and snowboarders are becoming more and more educated on higher spec clothing and the different layering systems and the benefits these offer.
What's new technically for ski and snowboard wear?
Ellis Brigham: The big news is a strong move to renew and recycled fabrics. Picture's step into bio-sourced fabrics is a game-changer. Instead of using products from the oil industry, bio-sourced fabrics use waste from the sugar cane industry. This waste is not suitable for the human food chain and no sugar cane is specifically planted for the clothing industry. Blending with recycled polyester produces a durable fabric that uses no new fossil fuel resources.
Snowtrax: Picture are releasing some amazing new technology this season called ‘Xpore’. The new Xpore membrane perfectly toes the line between eco-friendly fabrics and technology that serves as an alternative to the current market leading membrane.
It’s fantastic to see a manufacturer producing something more ecologically-minded that still has superior performance indicators. Picture's Xpore membrane is PFC free, made with fully chemical solvent-free processes from membrane manufacturing to lamination, boasting a minimum 25K waterproofness and minimum 20K breathability. With their bio-based polyester partially made with plant material such as sugar cane or castor beans, Picture clothing is going to be a popular, eco-friendly choice for 2021.
The Snowboard Asylum: Most brands are continuing the journey or making products that are better for the environment and more sustainable in the long run. Cleaner manufacturing processes, more ethically sourced and recycled materials and generally reducing the footprint are all aspects that brands are moving towards.
What's new style-wise for ski and snowboard wear?
Ellis Brigham: For women Goldbergh once again knocks it out of the park with stunning couture-inspired high fashion skiwear. For men, Picture Organic combines fresh freeride styling with industry-leading eco-credentials.
Snowtrax: In terms of style, colour and fit, the 2021 season looks to be broader than previous years. Muted colour palettes are still a popular staple, which is great for everyone who hates a retro colour scheme. However, we are also seeing lots of snow sports brands keeping the retro theme going but with more blocks of colour which makes the clothing pop. Planks, Burton and Goldbergh have some very strong styles this coming season, with both their jackets and pants looking really good whether in store or on the mountain.
The Snowboard Asylum: The Volcom Guide range (above) looks incredible for this season.
One ski or snowboard brand that's bossing it this winter 2021?
Ellis Brigham: I have to say Picture is getting stronger and stronger. They’ve really captured the current mood in skiing with fantastic freeride styling that appeals to all ages and genders and an incredibly strong environmental thread running through their whole collection.
Snowtrax: Stance have always been a favourite of mine and I really think they have been bossing it this year. With collabs from artist and athletes such as the Wu-Tang Clan and Jossi Wells, it's really cool to see a company shake up the sock game. Stance ski socks feature Feel360™ Technology to keep you outside for longer and in comfort because of the perfect fit around your foot. But, more importantly, their socks feature silver ions which reduce odour-causing bacteria, which for any skier/boarder is very important. Being able to wear a pair of socks without them stinking up your room is any seasonaire's dream!
The Snowboard Asylum: For me it's Volcom, the range offers a wide range of products for any type of snowboarder from first day to backcountry ripper.
Is there any ski or snowboard clothing or accessory that's game changing?
Ellis Brigham: Picture’s bio-sourced fabrics, as mentioned, have set the tone that many brands will follow over the coming years.
Snowtrax: I mentioned it earlier, but the Picture Xpore tech is really changing the game in bio-sourced/eco-friendly clothing. It's ability to provide high-end performance with 20K plus ratings on both waterproofness and breathability and with low/zero impact on the environment is a win win.
The Snowboard Asylum: Bib pants (above).
Your personal favourite ski and snowboard item or clothing and/or accessory for 2021 and why?
Ellis Brigham: I still love Patagonia’s Powder Bowl Jacket. It’s a timeless classic that lives and breathes in the mountains. It delivers reliable GORE-TEX protection and comfort in an easy-to-wear style that works well from mountain to high street.
Pushing this hard though is Picture’s Welcome 3L Jacket that says no to fossil fuels and sets the path for future outerwear development, being entirely made from bio-sourced castor oil and sugar cane. DryPlay bio-sourced stretch outer fabric is derived from sugar cane industry waste product and DryPlay bio-sourced waterproof and breathable membrane is made from plant-based castor oil.
Snowtrax: My personal favourite ski item, this year, is the Planks Happy Days anorak. I spend a lot of time riding on our slope at Snowtrax and our sprinkler system means it is always running fast! However, you can get a little damp, which is where this top comes into its own. The Happy Days anorak is 10K waterproof and breathable which is perfect for our slope and it looks sick, too.
I am also a big fan of the Grab Crab Slush mitts! They are hard-wearing and have a super sticky palm which makes styling out grabs even easier!
The Snowboard Asylum: Guch Stretch Gore-Tex Jacket by Volcom. I've used this jacket for last few seasons and I hope it lasts forever. The stretch fabric means you are never restricted and the 3L Gore means you have the protection you need no matter how harsh the conditions. Even comes with a built in face mask for the extra cold days. Paired with a Puff Puff Give down jacket for layering and it's a hard combo to beat.