The operations director and co-owner of The Outdoors Company discusses urban outdoorwear, outerwear for office workers and the demand for tonal embroidery
What are the key design trends in outerwear at the moment?
This season, we’ve seen a surge in demand for high quality, insulated jackets. They’re obviously very practical when it comes to keeping people warm out on site or at events and they’ve been a key look on the high street, too.
Urban outdoorwear is another key design trend we’ve seen over recent seasons. The North Face and Columbia have become very popular across the industry with many of their lines reflecting the consumer’s desire for outdoorwear for the streets.
How much influence is retail having on outerwear in the corporate and promo sectors?
People now demand fashionable, stylish clothing for the workplace as well as in their downtime, so the promo market is beginning to see real value in sourcing high quality outdoor and corporate workwear from well-known brands such as The North Face, Columbia and Patagonia for their clients.
The North Face has made a conscious shift from a niche, technical brand sold by specialist stockists to a leading high street fashion brand. This is where the brand has become a great fit for corporate workwear.
Have you noticed a difference in what clients are asking for now compared to five years ago?
We’ve noticed an increase in the desire for companies to meet their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Companies have definitely become more environmentally and socially conscious when selecting their corporate apparel or promotional garments, a concern shared by many of our brands, particularly Berghaus and Patagonia.
Has the type of client you’re supplying changed over the same time period?
We’re not just supplying workwear to the construction sector or industries demanding robust clothing for a workforce working outdoors anymore. More and more of the clothing we’re supplying now is headed for the office and is intended for corporate apparel for events in the service industries such as IT, communications and hospitality.
We’re also finding increasing demand for high-end, fashionable apparel for film and music events crews.
And with outdoor clothing and equipment partners such as Montane, Mountain Equipment and Rab, we’re supplying more and more high-end technical garments for the emergency services, mountain and search rescue teams and the military.
What have been the most significant advances in outerwear recently?
Technological advances like hydrophobic down have been significant. In essence, warm down jackets no longer turn into tea bags in the rain as the down has been treated to repel water.
Responsible sourcing and use of recycled materials has also been an area of significant development in the outdoors clothing and equipment industry. All the leading retail brands are aware of the environmental impact of their products and their carbon footprints on the planet.
What do you think, from the range you offer, is going to be the standout garment of 2018?
We’ve seen the Patagonia brand go from strength to strength, so pretty much any garment from this brand will be seen more and more in workplaces up and down the country.
What’s the best or most unusual decoration you’ve seen on an outerwear garment?
Recently we decorated some Lake 22 Vests from Columbia with no fewer than nine amazing logos down the centre of the back panel. Some really intricate, high quality workmanship from the guys in our decorating team!
We’re starting to see more of a demand for tonal embroidery where the logo and the garment are the same colour. The tonal embroidery of The Script’s logo on these Helly Hansen Paramount Jackets looked really smart, and the crew working behind the scenes of the current ‘Freedom Child’ album tour were all incredibly pleased.
What’s the single best piece of marketing and sales advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more of your garments to their customers?
High quality, premium brand, corporate outdoorwear is competitively priced and actually a value-for-money option in the long run, especially when the extended and lifetime warranties of these premium brand products and the impact of dual-branding them alongside some of the most widely respected, instantly recognisable brands in the world are considered.