I am currently at Snowbird, Utah with Black Diamond and partner GORE to check out the entire new Fall '14 collection for the company. Saturday night, Director of Apparel Tim Bantle walked us through the extensive apparel line (124 styles in all). Treated as tools to help you succeed outdoors rather than just another pile of clothes, Black Diamond hopes to disrupt the outdoor apparel market with well designed gear built with core users in mind. Major themes for Fall '14 center around hardshells, down, and women's technical apparel, with some interesting new design technology thrown in the mix.
For hardshells, Black Diamond teamed up with GORE-TEX, using both Pro and Active in the line. Looking beyond fabric choices, the company partnered up with embedded component design firm Cohaesive to create an innovative cord management solution embedded within the jacket. The cord hardware is bonded directly to the fabric at the hood, hem, and collar, concealed behind a small icon. Pulling the cord tightens the system, while simply pushing the icon releases the tension.
What happens when you need more than a softshell but don't quite want a full hardshell? Black Diamond is the first to take GORE Windstopper and use a seam-taped construction to add an extra element of weather resitance without losing out on the breathability you expect from a softshell.
As women make up 51% of the technical apparel market, Black Diamond took a year to ensure they got the new women's collection right. Focusing heavily on fit, the company used data from apparel fit experts Alvanon in order to build an accurate size profile. Designed with climbers and skiers in mind, the collection includes hardshells, softshells, insulated pieces, and wool base layers. After skiing in the pieces for a couple of days, I have a great first impression of both the form and function.
With the price of down on the rise, Black Diamond chose to use PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Down Blend, made from 70% water repellent down and 30% PrimaLoft ultra fine fibers, for the new down collection. Not only does it offer a more scalable solution, but it dries quicker, is 30% warmer for the same weight, and performs better in nasty outdoor conditions. Black Diamond played with baffle size and slimmer fits to increase thermal efficiency and expand the comfort range.
Probably one of my favorite small design elements on the entire apparel collection is the inner tag. I practically wanted to jump up and hug Tim Bantle when he showed us that each piece of apparel would be labeled not only with information on fabric and features, but also with the actual name of the piece. Thank you Black Diamond for making our lives easier.
Stay tuned for more information on the rest of the Black Diamond Fall '14 collection.