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Ski Fashion: Zebras, Tigers and Fur...oh my!

Posted by Heather Burke  March 14, 2012 07:00 AM

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So mom was right, again. Everything eventually comes back into style. Take a look at ski fashion, hats with huge pom poms and shiny metallic ski jackets are back. Another huge trend at the annual 2012 Ski Fashion Show in Denver was the return of rainbow colors from the 80s. Of course, ski wear manufacturers are smart enough to change and update ski styles, so you will look dated if you just drag your old bright red parka out of the basement (besides you will smell of moth balls). Here are the top trends in ski fashion from the runway, and at ski shops near you.bright_snowboard_attire.jpgTop 10 Trends in Ski Fashion

1. Color is back, replacing black as the default for skiers. At Snowsports Industry of America’s annual fashion show, bright colors in stripes, squares, and blocks were big and bold for skiers. Frankly some of the loud colors remind me of my second grade playground jacket, with wide bands of contrasting bright yellow, red, green and blue. But, these candy colors are a cheerier choice than black or white. “Brighter colors are appealing simply because they are happier and represent energy and action,” said Michelle Hollingsworth, Obermeyer's lead designer.

Rossignol-tiger_jcdelcastelbajac.jpg2. Cougars are popping up on the slopes, and we are not just talking about 40+ divorcees in the singles line. Rossignol has wild cougar, tiger and zebra inspired ski outfits from designer JC De Castelbajac, other ski clothiers are pushing animal print too.

3. Silver and gold sound like NASTAR ski medals, but these glamorous shiny fabrics are coming to fall line fashionistas, very 70s disco-tech. Metallic gold, silver and bronze quilted jackets are being offered by Obermeyer and Rossignol, perhaps geared more toward Aspen's clientele than New England skiers at Wachusett.

4. The pattern is for patterns. Next season's ski wear offers big plaids and prints matched with bright colored ski pants (picture lime green, orange, poppy red) or vice versa - crazy graphic pants with an eye-popping solid colored jacket.

5. Snowboarders buck the trend, of course. While skiers are moving to bright and bold colors, inspired by snowboarding, riders are moving to business attire styles for the slopes in black and brown plaids, even gray flannel and tweed. Burton and Bonfire are both producing more subdued city-street style snowboard clothing. I guess at 30-something, snowboard attire is growing up and looking for some respect.

m_miller_fur_krista_red.jpg6. Fur is back, but this time it is for everyone - women, men, kids, even snowboarding teen jackets have fur trim. Whether you go for the real deal or faux, fur is being used in ski jacket trim, hoods, glove cuffs, boot toppers, and hat pom-poms for next season. M Miller, a luxury ski wear company based right here in Boston, sports gorgeous furry hoods in their Alpine Heritage collection, all made in the USA.

7. Ski gear keeps getting smarter. Every year, snow sports fabrics improve with new technology - today's outwear and base layers are thinner, softer, stronger, more weather resistant and even odor preventing. So your old jacket from the 80s, while perhaps a re-trending color, is not composed of the latest greatest moisture wicking, wind and water resistant, lightweight material.

8. Phone friendly fingers in gloves are the latest rage. Ski glove companies like Gordini make Smart Gloves with a zip-out lined finger for touch screen operation. So you no longer have to freeze your finger to answer a phone call, text your ski buddy, cue up another song, or take a photo on top of the ski mountain. Cool…or toasty as the case may be.

9. Goggles are going Star Trek, as companies like Zeal and Smith Optics roll out the next generation of genius goggles. The Smith I/O Recon has an LCD screen inside the goggle lens with GPS, vertical tracking, weather stats, you can even video your skiing, record your air time, and check your email when connected to your smart phone. These sophisticated goggles are about $650 so I am not sure what a hot seller they will be. Besides, it sounds like visual overload – you are supposed to be skiing.

Rossignol-zebra_jcdelcastelbajac.jpg10. Stay tuned for more ski fashion trends. Aspen Fashion Week is going on right now, ski designers Obermeyer, Heli Hanson, Killy, Dale of Norway, and SKEA will be featured on Aspen’s Snowstage for those who want to be in the know. Of course, some fashion cycles flop, like the reintroduction of the one-piece ski suit (aka: ski onesie, jumpsuit, fart bag) a few years back.

Now, if we could just stage a few alpine ambush makeovers on the New England slopes, to help out the guy wearing his NASCAR jacket and jeans, and the gal in her flannel pajama pants and a Belichick Patriots hoodie – probably not the best choice for snow sports.

Photos by Greg Burke, and courtesy of Rossignol and M Miller

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.

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