When the kids are asking for new threads for the slopes, don’t expect some subdued one-piece. The wilder the better this year for riders, sliders, or gliders. That would be snowboarders, downhill skiers, or cross country skiers.
The trend is apparently a flashback to the '70s and '80s, where what is old is new again. Look for bright fluorescent colors, tie-dye prints, and outrageous graphics. The good thing is that underneath, winter gear is on the cutting edge of clothing technology, designed to be water resistant, warm, and breathable.
“Many of the new styles we’re showing can easily cross over from skiing to snowboarding, to street wear,” says Mickey MacWilliams, executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association.“The two predominant looks of the past winters – the technical look with dozens of zippers and pockets, and the boxy, baggy snowboard garb – are giving way to bright colors and sleeker, more sophisticated lines.”
Sport Obermeyer’s gear, especially for junior men, is built for gadgets. Linda Gerdenich with the Aspen-based ski clothing company says, “Our clothes have lots of fabulous interior specialized pockets for electronics, iPods, cell phones, goggles, and all that good stuff.”
Obermeyer has a new teen line, just for girls in teen sizes, juniors 3 to 13. It’s called MEta4. Gerdenich says, “The thinking on this line is this is perfect for ‘ME.’ It’s full of bling with poodle fur inside the collars, lots of front detail, and hip-hugging pants.” She adds that some styles have deconstructed patches that fray when washed, which the kids like.
For Obermeyer, the big colors are called Reptile Green and Mars Red. Gerdenich says, “There are also a lot of tweeds and plaids, which could be considered retro. We also have a lot of textures with fabrics this year.” Big for the boys are work-style fabrics, like Carhartt.
It’s not just clothing. Skis and boards are wild and crazy, with fluorescents and graphics that look like album covers out of the '80s.
“There has been a lot of attention to the artwork on skis and boards.Graphics are important – especially for the 13- to 25-year-olds,” said Chris Waring of Lee’s Adventure sports in Portage, Mich.
Matt Sterbenz is with 4FRNT out of Salt Lake City, Utah. They make wicked cool gear that every freeride skier craves. He says, “We’re looking at lots of individual expression, trying to tailor a product with a specialty niche and create something unique for everyone.”
He says that on the 4FRNT lines of skis, each size of that particular line will have different graphics. It means if you have skiers of different ages in your family, they can have the same ski but with different graphics. “Nothing is critical to the actual sport of skiing. It’s all part of the demographics of those who participate in action sports. They don’t necessarily have to put on the team jersey. They can all have something different.”
“There are hundreds of snowboard and ski graphic designs to choose from, so the purchaser can easily pick something that fits his or her personality,” says Steve Kershner, chairman of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association and director of skiing at Shanty Creek in Bellaire.