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Outdoor Retailer: Top New Technical Apparel Standouts to Watch in 2019

Outdoor Retailer sparks waves of innovation every season. From Summer Market to Winter Market, along with this past Snow Show in Denver, Colorado—technical and sustainable advancements set the tone for outdoor gear each year.

“Innovation is the coolest part of Outdoor Retailer,” said Brady Barry, marketing manager for the U.S. at Helly Hansen. “It’s a jump-off point of the year and it’s my personal favorite part to look at what everyone else is doing. It’s always exciting as to what is released and this is the time to hit it.”

The Fall-Winter 2019/2020 Winter market, for snowsports and outdoor industries ushered in a handful of show-stoppers that stood out among the entire Snow Show. From sustainability and fair trade movements to technical advancements and style, here are the key highlights from the show.

In technical outerwear innovations—in both performance and sustainability—two names launching inventive styles, yet again, included Patagonia and Helly Hansen.

Helly Hansen, for one, reintroduced its new Odin Mountain Jacket to the collection as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. “It was originally launched as our pinnacle, no holds barred backcountry jacket in the touring collection,” Barry said.

The ski jacket is made with Helly Hansen’s weatherproofing, with an “extra breathable” FLOW membrane, mechanical stretch fabric and an internal backer that functions as a breathable layering piece.

“We wanted to build the best jacket possible and the best kit for touring in those cases. That was why we created it,” he explained. “Then went through long processes of feedback from professionals that can’t choose their day—athletes that have to be out there in the elements regardless of the conditions to be outside to do their job. Taking their feedback into account to build a much better shell than what we have in the past.”

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For Patagonia, innovation for the upcoming season is rooted in sustainability and fair trade with its Responsible Waterproof Shells. The eco-friendly brand has declared that all of its shells will be made with recycled materials and be sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories, as part of its ‘Shell, Yeah!’ campaign.

Lisa Williams, Patagonia’s Chief Product Officer cemented the movement by saying, “Now is the time for recycled to be a baseline for all of us.”

Innovation is not solely limited to technical innovations. Style is equally paramount in the market—case in point with technical outwear brand Holden. As a leader in the snowsports market, touching on some of the most ahead-of-its-time styles, Holden upped its own ante with its Sportswear Collection for Fall/Winter 19-20. “Sportswear is important for us,” said Mike Leblanc, co-founder and sales and marketing director for Holden.

“The focus of the sportswear is a cross-over item—we sell to lifestyle accounts and to higher end ski and snowboard accounts. It’s variable and the key to this collection is versatility,” he said. “You could wear this in the city or the mountains.”

Though a collection Holden has done before, Leblanc said it’s more focused this season.

“It’s using branded materials—Holden Trackable Down, a white goose down. It’s higher quality. The Power Stretch from Polartec is super stretchy, so there is a solid tech story in our collection,” he said. “It works for urban outdoor customer and also for someone who has never been on a mountain before, but can still appreciate the product and would have that emotional response.”

To note, Holden’s Women’s Hybrid Down Jogger just won the coveted 2019 ISPO Product of the Year award in Health & Fitness > Lifestyle & Fashion. The ISPO Award, doled out by the organization of the same name, which hosts the world’s largest multi-segment exhibition for the sports industry, honors the most exceptional sporting goods in the space.

“There’s a lot of brands doing really innovative things, but from a product standpoint, solving a need or solving an issue is most interesting,” Helly Hansen’s Barry said. “As long as you’re coming at it from an ethical point of view, you’re going make great products.”