Snowboard and ski fashions move as quickly as Herman Maier in his heyday and it is the job of wholesale clothing buyers to stay a step ahead. Sharon Campbell, the head clothing buyer for Snow and Rock, uses feedback from the mountain retailer's shop floor and visits to the big snowsports shows – Gliss Expo in Paris for snowboarding and Ispo in Munich for skiing – to help her determine what people will be wearing on the slopes this season.
The main development this year has been the resurgence of colourful outfits. "We were so bored with grungy clothes," says Ms Campbell. "Women will be looking for more feminine outfits in frosty colours such as lilac and silver-grey, while men will go for burnt orange, lime green and aqua blue. They are a lot more visible and therefore safer."
People will wear fewer baggy clothes this year. Technical clothing, however, is going from strength to strength, and even mainstream boarders and skiers are wearing things like helmets. "The British have always been more interested in the technicality of a garment than the rest of Europe. Thanks to our climate, waterproofness is high on our agenda. But what you gain in waterproofing you lose in breathability, which is no good for skiing."
The distinction between clothes worn by skiers and snowboarders has blurred over the years. When snowboarding started, its clothes were cheap and simple, while skiwear was expensive but technical. They met in the middle. Now we pay less for a technical jacket than we did two years ago for an inferior one.
The most exciting new fabric this year, says Ms Campbell, is XCR from Gore-Tex, which it claims is 25 per cent more breathable than its other fabrics. "The Degre 7 Stretch XCR pants are already one of our best-sellers."
Having technical, lightweight outer shells is all very well but they won't last a week of lugging skis and boards on and off lifts if they are not reinforced. Jackets, such as the Columbia Nieve and the Helly Hansen, have to be durable.
Another development is the entrance of the big fashion labels into the high-end market "The Prada Sport range is all Gore-Tex and is reasonably priced," says Ms Campbell. "We almost sold out within two weeks. It is very stylish and it works.Reuse content