Vaude Urban Life collection

You may not see outdoor brands on the catwalks of New York or Paris anytime soon, but after walking the halls of Outdoor Retailer, SIA and ISPO, it became apparent that many outdoor companies are trying to capture a piece of the larger urban apparel market.  

As high street fashion brands such as Muji and GAP add more "performance" based apparel to their collections, the outdoor brands are trying to move into everyday fashion. Some are doing it better than others.  Below are a few of the Fall 2011 urban outdoor collections I really liked from the shows. 

Columbia Concourse Hoodie Columbia Zenith Vista Trench

I was pleasantly surprised by Columbia's city collection for Fall 2011. Including men's and women's outerwear, sweaters and a whole line of accessories, Columbia is hoping to become your apparel of choice both in the city and out, every day of the week.  

Armadillo London

Armadillo London is a new brand from the designers of Armadillo Scooterwear. Using traditional outdoor fabrics such as GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER to create a collection of men's and women's outerwear, Amardillo London was hands down one of my favorite lines of urban outdoor apparel. 

MeCo Designs

MeCo Designs is a new women's outerwear company that marries fashion with function. A big hit at both Outdoor Retailer and SIA was the Sienna Jacket (above), a PERTEX shell insulated jacket with super feminine fit and textured detailing. 

Woolrich Arctic Woolrich Charlie Brown
At Outdoor Retailer, Woolrich presented a reinvigorated Outdoor Collection that combines classic Woolrich with modern design. The Fall 2011 Outdoor Collection reintroduces some classic designs like the men’s Charlie Brown and reinterprets others like the women’s Arctic Jacket, but with updated details, materials, and trims.

Ahnu footwear 

Ahnu has a great line of both men's and women's urban boots for Fall 2011. I absolutely loved the men's casual leather boot and shoe collection as well as the women's Monte Vista WP suede high boot in a variety of vibrant colors.

Vaude Urban Life

Vaude's new Urban Life Collection makes use of fashionable materials, accessories and cuts to create cutting edge looks that fit right into city life without having to forgo on outdoor performance. 

Who do you think is best suited to get this balance of fashion and function right? Will you buy traditional outdoor brands as your urban apparel of choice? Would you trust traditional fashion brands to make more performance based garments?

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  1. I swear Columbia has to be paying you for all this. No one likes Columbia this much!

    Just my opinion, but kind of a disservice to readers touting clothing line with batteries. And word “fashionable” has no place in a gear blog.

  2. Hi Ted. Thanks for your comments.

    No-Columbia does not pay me to write about them. I have truly been impressed with how Columbia has been trying to reinvent themselves lately. You should check out some of their “battery operated” Omni-Heat Electric stuff, it’s actually pretty cool- even for a real gear head.

    And I think fashionable should definitely be a key part of outdoor gear- what’s the point of paying $500 for a high-performance jacket if it looks stupid on you?

  3. “Fashion”, or the progression of design is inevitable as everyone’s taste changes. Even choosing to spurn contemporary designs for “classic” designs is a “fashion” based choice.

  4. Sorry Ted, I disagree. We no longer live in the age where the only gear worth it’s salt is ugly gear.

    Should function be sacrificed for fashion? Certainly no. However, when you can have both, why not?

  5. As a female newbie to outdoor activities, the fashion element is very appealing. At a time when we, as a nation, are encouraging people to discover nature, I think “appeal” needs to be approached in a broad manner. Personally, I won’t buy gear that doesn’t look good, too.

  6. It was pretty boring back in the day when camping/hiking/climbing wear was all khaki and olive drab. Fashion colors and details at the crag are fun (and certainly make the photos pop). On the other hand, will this trend further encourage people to ditch still-wearable and otherwise good clothing just because it’s no longer in style? And if everybody’s wearing the same stuff, how can we tell the “real” climbers from the posers? (before you flame me–I’m a poser, okay??)

  7. Interesting dilemma. I’m ok with dressing fashionably so long as the gear is still lightweight and high in performance. I don’t mind that all the local college kids dress like me!

  8. I am not a big fan of shopping, and when I have to go in a store I prefer it to be a gear shop. If I can sneak some work clothes out of the racks I’m a happy girl. I love that my Icebreaker stuff can work double duty under a suit jacket or on the trail. But the key is function – if an item isn’t gonna cut it outdoors it won’t make it into my closet no matter what it looks like.

    Random side note: where I grew up, The North Face was the wannabe rich kids brand. I avoided it for *years* because of the negative ‘city kid’ stereotype. One day I tried on a jacket off a clearance rack and was surprised at the fit and features – it was just what I was looking for. It became one of my favorite jackets. Next I found a pair of hiking pants by them that fit *perfectly* (why is it so hard to find a pair of hiking pants that isn’t high-waisted??) and worked great on the trail. Soon I found myself with a closet full of their stuff – it’s like I’m one of their fit models, their stuff fits so well and works so well for my needs. So there you go – I’m a TNF wannabe too. 🙂 Anyways, moral of story: I try to be open minded, if something works well and looks great too, I’ll choose it.

    P.S. I’m with you on Columbia – I love the Omni-Heat stuff I got at the OR show. I haven’t owned Columbia gear in years and they are rapidly pulling me back in with this stuff. They are doing a great job reinventing themselves.

  9. Thanks for all the comments so far everyone! Sounds like as long as the function/performance elements you need are there, looking good is important too.

    Rebecca- glad to hear someone else is digging the new Columbia gear!

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