Style and function come together in new fall trends
“I am not a great climber, but I care about style even when I hike,” Lee said. She believes that hiking gear is also a fashion statement, and shares tips with friends on the best shops in town to get fashionable hiking apparel.
Lee is not alone. Koreans are increasingly choosing their hiking clothes on the basis of style as much as functionality.
A TV commercial for outdoor wear brand Lafuma, for example, starts with a stunning female model putting on her eye makeup. She chooses a pink jacket from her wardrobe, but instead of hitting the tiles as we expect, she heads to a mountain, binding a rope. The voice-over comes on, exhorting audiences to “be fashionable even on the mountain.”
Hiking jackets are becoming bolder and more colorful, coming in pinks and oranges; traditionally dull hiking pants are also getting brighter for both men and women.
Lee Yun-jung, chief of the design department at Merrel, a local outdoor brand, says, “There’s now a great demand for stylish outdoor clothes. It’s big enough to threaten the market for casual wear brands.”
Outdoor brands used to focus on only new material or high functionality. But increasingly, sportswear brands are teaming up with recognized designers to launch new lines promising to look as good as they function.
Berghaus roped in U.K. designer Jeff Griffin, who added several cutting-edge twists to the previously staid outdoor brand. Sportswear specialists Kolon Sport launched a collection designed by noted industrial designer Arik Levy, while Millet is collaborating with Japanese designer Ishisone.
Although the retail market is generally seeing a slump in sales, consumers are snapping up outdoor clothing.
Lotte Department Store announced that sales of outdoor clothing increased by 30 percent last year, spiking again by 25 percent in the first half of this year.
Kim Hy-seung, director of outdoor clothing at Lotte Department Store, says that the five-day workweek has played a part in this trend.
“Nowadays, people go to work in their outdoor clothes, and when they leave their office they immediately head to the mountain. This is why it’s imperative to have fashionable outdoor sportswear,” says Kim.
Woo Jung-a, who heads the design department at Berghaus, predicts that this is only the beginning. “We will see more variety in outdoor wear this fall as more people buy it for casual use.”
By Kang Seung-min JoongAng Ilbo [email@example.com]