Innovative Ideas Inspire Unique Products
by Kathlyn Swantko
"Small is the new BIG! Small innovative brands are taking market share from the big brands in the outdoor industry", notes Matt Powell, Global Industry Expert and VP of NPD Group. He continues, "Consumers increasingly want unique products from brands and retailers. As a result, manufacturers that appeal to market niches have gained market share."
While the big brands still dominate the outdoor apparel market, retailers are finding they can achieve new growth by offering novel products from the smaller designers. As an example, the Venture Out section at Outdoor Retailer showcases start-up companies that promote creative, cutting-edge outdoor apparel and gear specifically designed for the modern & urban-influenced outdoor retailer and consumer.
The Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019 featured a wide variety of noteworthy product offerings from fabrics to finished products to help retailers attract the imaginations of the outdoor consumer.
The FabricLink Network found one fabric knitter that is addressing the needs of the small, and/or independent apparel designers, and looks at other new ideas from small finished product manufacturers.
Draper Knitting, the canton, Massachusetts, 6th generation family-owned knitter, announced "The Wool Bar" at ORSS'19. This new in-stock wool program responds to the demands of small designers for quality fabrics, made of 100% natural Merino American Wool and blends for minimums of 100-yard and 500-yard quantities. "The Wool Bar" offers amazing wool qualities that provide insulation, fire resistance, moisture wicking, mildew and mold resistance, hypoallergenic, flexibility/drapability, sustainability, and cooling.
The wool line includes a range of conventional knits in a variety weights and constructions (base-layer and mid-layer jerseys, 1x1 ribs, interlocks, and "french" terries), as well as high pile knits (1/4" to Â¾", which offer endless design possibilities for small and independent designers. All of the knit styles are made with 19.5 micron American sourced wool. The high pile styles are all 21.5 micron wool face with a Repreve® recycled polyester back yarn for strength. With Draper's on-site dye house and full finishing capabilities, the company can deliver these wool fabrics in short runs with short lead times. A dyed palette of colors from "The Wool Bar" will be coming soon!
Packems is a lightweight, packable boot. Powell of NPD stated, "Currently, the fashion boot business is very important at retail. Along with this, anything related to travel is key." Products marketed to the consumer needs of comfort and lightweight makes travel easier. According to NPD, travel-themed product messages like "walkable" and "packable" are very important.
Pakems packable boots and shoes are durable, waterproof, and an easy-to-carry solution for all after-sport footwear and travel needs. Made with ultra-light rip stop uppers and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) outsoles to keep you light as a feather on your feet. The portable boots are designed to be collapsed, packed, and taken on-the-go for any adventure. The ultra-soft faux-fur lining and a reflexive foam foot bed keep you comfortable on your feet wherever you go. Rubber pods on the outsoles offer high traction for rugged terrain. There is also a zipper-secure storage pocket that provides room to secure important items like cash, credit cards, keys, and cellphones. The waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry in rain or snow.
Redew8, a Swedish based jean manufacturer, is raising the bar of what's possible in the production of denim jeans. Redew8 is about style, but more than jeans, as Redew8 has denim as a mission. Peter Lantz, co-founder of Redew8, one of the world's foremost denim experts, has a decades long career working within denim design on an international level. His partner, Anders Haglund, is an outdoor professional in sales and marketing with extensive experience bringing Scandinavian brands into the global marketplace.
In 2013, they began addressing the negative environmental issues associated with denim production, and how to make a positive change in the production of jeans. The basic principles they identified have evolved into what is now known as Redew8, the eco-friendly jean manufacturer. Redew8 jeans are produced using mainly organic cotton (GOTS Certified); polyester (using recycled PET bottles); and a touch of Lycra. Only sustainable chemical finishes are being applied to create Redew8's distressed jean styles. The plan is for Redew8 is to continue to take on other sustainability challenges for denim, one step at a time.