Fashion Week. London. Paris. Milan. How about Park City? Well, it wasn’t a week, but it was an evening. And there was a runway and I was with the media. You know, you’ve seen pictures of people like us — sitting at the edge of the runway in Paris, next to Madonna and Gwyneth. Intently peering at the styles, scribbling notes and sipping champagne. Sure, you have. Here’s the real story, fresh from The Canyons in Park City, Utah.
Columbia’s Fall 2012 Launch
In December, I was in Park City with about 30 other editors from the world of snowsports, hiking and backpacking and outdoor gear. These are people who know gear. They know the numbers, the data, the materials needed to keep anyone warm and dry. Me? I know what I like in terms of color and style. While the gear-heads were dazzled by Columbia’s emerging technology, I was dazzled by color.
If you’ve thought of Columbia outerwear as dowdy or plain, think again. I have watched Columbia’s Omni-Heat line for women for two years and I’m continually impressed with the flattering shapes and designs Columbia is creating. Where their women’s coats used to look like men’s coats, only smaller, they are now cut and styled for a flattering fit. Columbia is using a much improved, and pumped-up, color palette for 2012, as well as subtle patterns and textures in what look like otherwise solid color fabrics.
As for the men’s line, I was blown away. Columbia is using color, design and fabric to create men’s ski clothes that look serious, but fun. These are outdoor technical products for grownups who want to look great. Drawing on a more European look, the men’s coats appear as worthy rivals to brands like Spyder or Descente.
While I clearly didn’t have the best camera for a fashion shoot, these are just a few of the looks that hit the runway.
It’s All About Innovation
If you haven’t looked at Columbia in a few years, you’re not alone. Dan Hanson, Columbia’s Vice President of Marketing admitted as much. “We lost our focus,” he told me. “When we look back at what made Columbia successful, it was innovation. We created an interchangeable jacket system that was highly successful. Then we stopped innovating. Three years ago, we made a decision to recapture innovation.”
Tomorrow: What This “Recapture” Means To You
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