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6 Key Trends From the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show

The Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019 in Denver Colorado this week brought forth a bevy of interesting twists across evolving trends, along with selections of key items proving to be pillars moving forward for the snow industry.

This particular trade show marked the second iteration of the Snow Show for Outdoor Retailer; taking over the reigns from SIA since 2018. As this new paradigm shift takes place, brands and retailers continue to fine-tune their buys that speak to both ski and snowboard consumers.

Many of the overarching trends at the Snow Show saw an overlap of looks for skiers and snowboarders across color, silhouette and big picture movements. However, core brands remained true to the individual identities of each discipline and respected marketplace.

In years past snow bibs were skiers’ hallmarks. Over the past four seasons, brands have offered new silhouettes and designs for both ski and snowboard markets, making it a key item. And it’s not going anywhere soon.

“There’s just a functionality of it first and foremost, ” said Dan Abrams, president of Flylow, a major ski brand in the space. “The bib is an overall—it’s the original work pant and fits a lot of different body types. I think it’s bigger than it being ‘just a trend’ now, but people will most likely stop talking about the ‘trend’ in the next 24 months. It will never go away now. It’s here to stay.”

The brand’s Foxy Bib style is the second largest across the entire collection. Abrams relished, “Now, to think I’m selling two times more bibs than pants is wild. That’s a crazy statistic.” On the snowboard side of things, this sentiment is equally paramount. Core brands like Volcom and Airblaster make certain, subtle distinctions that cater to the snowboard enthusiast.

Baggier silhouettes, directional prints and technical features offer a more tailored product for the functionality of a rider.

Technical Luxe

City-to-ski is a term that has been used to embrace the lifestyle of an individual who bounces between a mountain and urban lifestyle. More and more, technical, luxury brands across the ski market are catering to this consumer by creating styles that can seamlessly go between both worlds.

“In my mind, the lady who skis also goes to New York, Chicago and London,” said Diane Boyer, president of Skea, one of the premiere luxury brands in the market. “It’s luxury winter apparel, but with function. Whether it’s a faux fur or a technical vest or down coat, it has to look fashionable for our customer.”

Bomber puffers, that are currently abundant in street style and on the runway, are trickling into the milieu of the ski market. Brands like Rossignol and Nils are each creating these exact looks. The latter of which, Nils, reached into its archive to reproduce a style from 1979, the Julie Bomber—a reversible jacket that evokes the sentiment of ’70s skiing, yet embraces current fashion nods.


Paramount across all outerwear and hardgoods, the color purple dominated looks for Fall/Winter 2019 winter season.

From backpacks, goggles, skis and helmets to gloves, first layers and technical outerwear, purple made a fresh impact across the entire industry. What strikes a chord, though, are the different tones and hues of the color.

“We always need to have a really nice feminine color in the collection and we always try to find it,” said Sarah Randell, product manager for Helly Hansen. “We have always done pink for many seasons, but we don’t want to go too girly, but we still need it to be feminine—that’s why we ended up with this grey-purple that you’re seeing right now across our Fall/Winter 2019 collection. It’s still a purple nice enough to be a really rich feminine color but not girly and too ‘pink’ per se. We heard a lot that in screenings that this purple that we’re using for Helly is perfect. It could actually be a solid too.”

Backcountry Flash

Over the past five seasons, the ski and snowboard industry has seen an explosion in the backcountry market. Brands have had to embrace the movement to gain that piece of the market share or falter.

This trend also represented a certain look rooted in traditional work wear and a rugged aesethic—natural earth tones, relaxed silhouettes and an overall subdued vibe. For Fall/Winter 2019, the backcountry world is being knocked off its side of style and going into an entirely different direction. Flashy, colorful outerwear is beginning to dominate brands—with elite athletes pioneering the look.

“The trend is partly because athletes film and want to be seen when they are filming,” said Joe Torsey, product manager for Airblaster, one of the core snowboard brands in the market.

“They want to be seen on camera for social media and if you’re wearing earth tones, you’re going to blend into the background. They are also because they are embracing the fun of doing it and not being so serious about how they dress by through the enjoyment of being a bit wild.”

The trend of going “bold and flashy” is not solely for snowboarders. Skiers are equally taking this movement forward in neon and bright palettes.

“What we’ve been hearing from our athletes, particularly our alpine athletes, is that if they are going on a true expedition in the middle of nowhere, they want bright alpine colors because makes sense to see one another,” said Chris Curtis, senior product manager for The North Face. “It’s a safety concern. Also, if you’re a sponsored athlete, it happens to be really good for filming for great contrast.”

Hero Pieces

Standout looks in both style and innovation often times set the tone for seasons to come with select styles at this year’s Snow Show not disappointing. Key pieces included a metallic puffer anorak, in either gold or silver, from Mammut; a black and white monochromatic head-to-toe look, also for women, from Holden; the Macro Puff jacket for both men and women from Patagonia and a new colorway from Vuarnet’s iconic Glacier style in a sleek python print.

High Pile Fleece

High pile fleece jackets, with chic and contemporary updates, dominated brands at the Snow Show.

Ideal for après, travel or city-to-mountains look, various ski and snowboard labels embraced the trend also prevalent in streetwear and fashion arenas—sometimes more known as a ‘teddy coat.’

“It’s in reference to the traditional fleece that’s been around for a while—it’s been copied and used all the way down to the lowest price point,” said Nathan Dopp, president of the americas at Fjällräven.

The shining aspect of the majority of these key styles in the snow and outdoor arenas is the sustainable angle—especially so with brands like Patagonia, and equally with Fjällräven.

“We will always choose to do a sustainable solution. That’s just the way it is,” Dopp said.

From a sales perspective, with orders thus far, he added, “It’s returning really well. Truly for our brand, layering is becoming very important. People need high quality layering on a cold day, rainy day.”

After all, as Dopp noted, “Clean Scandinavian is always in fashion.”

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