Winter Trends 2016: Building The Women’s Category

Building the Women's Category
U&I’s Storm Collection features this removable triangle top layering piece that keeps everything in place while surfing.

Strength of the Women’s Market & Female Entrepreneurs

Perhaps the perfect embodiment of this trend, Axis Show unfolded in late February and opened us up to a whole new crop of women’s brands, while highlighting some of the staples that are making even deeper inroads into the women’s market. On the entrepreneur front, we met with several female founders that had a clear point of differentiation and a strategic plan to gain a consumer following for their young brands.

Building the Women's Category
U&I’s Head of Design Jodie Hayes and Creative Director Emma Bäcklund.

U&I out of Australia was one of those brands. An insightful takeaway we heard from Head of Design Jodie Hayes and Creative Director Emma Bäcklund was that the brand is honing its tight collection on the cornerstone of what it does best: minimalistic, timeless design with less of a nod to the “girlie” look and more focus on perfecting some of the performance-driven pieces that have put them on the map. U&I demonstrated an unusually clear vision for an emerging brand.

Building the Women's Category
U&I’s sport-top is a borrowed design from last season, and received a solid reaction from retailers in Australia. It mixes feminine cues with classic, muted colorways, and functional design.

Hot As Hell Founder Sharleen Ernster was another entrepreneur that left us reeling with her break-down of the company’s sustainably sourced materials. Former EVP for Victoria’s Secret and the Chief Design Executive for Guess, Inc., Ernster is a fashion game vet. The new brand has already been picked up by several major retailers, including Nasty Gal.

Building the Women's Category
Hot As Hell Founder Sharleen Ernster and Jennifer Sorg, director of operations.

We would be amiss not to mention a couple of the other inspirational women business owners and founders we met.

Building the Women's Category
Olivia Perez

Style maker and Friend of a Friend Editor-In-Chief Olivia Perez is the newest addition to the Axis Collective. She founded her fashion advice website while going to school full-time at NYU.

Building the Women's Category
Laura Huth, with husband Dustin Huth.

Rootfoot CEO Laura Huth hand-picks all the plants used in her essential oils and aromatherapy products. Her line of roll-on scents, inspired by Spirit Animals, was recently picked up by Free People, along with the brand’s hand-crafted “spirit pouches” and necklaces. Check back in April for those.

Building the Women's Category
Blogger-turned-Designer Jac Vanek

Another female founder who got her start with blogging, Jac Vanek has amassed quite the following with her sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek sayings, which have morphed into an apparel and accessories collection.

Building the Women's Category
Vanessa Chiu

Perhaps one of the most powerful and inspirational women in the room at AXIS: Founder Vanessa Chiu.

See the entire wrap up and break down of all the brands we saw at AXIS.

Design Driven by Women Riders & Designers And the Expansion into Backcountry

In the last decade there has been a significant shift away from the token girl team rider or employee and the number one trend at the SIA Snow Show for women’s products was the evidence of authentic products built for women who ride. This played out in two ways. The first is the traditional way our industry has always stayed authentic: with rider-driven products.

Building the Women's Category
Gnu takes a women-lead philosophy towards products and incorporates rider feedback from Jamie Anderson and Kaitlyn Farrington.

 

Building the Women's Category
Amazing graphics. Jess Kimura and Capita, a pairing of total awesomeness.

This was evident throughout all categories of products, from Jess Kimura’s Danger Pony Pro Model at Capita, to The Kimmy Fasani backcountry pant at Burton, to Desiree Melancon’s Smith Goggles.

Building the Women's Category
Inspired Design at Smith with artwork by Desiree Melancon on the new Riot frame.

These are not “shrink it and pink it” products. They’re not men’s products with flowers on them. They are the legitimate manifestation of brands listening to their female riders.

Building the Women's Category
Former Pro Snowboarder and Dakine PLM Amy Eichner with new Women’s Outerwear Designer, Brittany Crook.

In addition to female team rider-driven product, the rise in brands employing and empowering female leadership across product, design, and marketing departments has given rise to an increase in products that accurately address the needs of female riders. “We know the female consumer, so we pay extra attention to the details,” says Dakine Outerwear Product Line Manager, Amy Eichner.

 

Building the Women's Category
According to Burton Rep Josh Fisher, the Day Trader is a huge hit for female freeriders and is available in a split board style too.

Core female riders are forging into the backcountry and looking for high performance products that fit their needs.

Building the Women's Category
Nitro’s new women’s splitboard.

Women’s splitboards were noticeable everywhere, from Jones and Burton to Nitro, K2, Never Summer and elsewhere.

Building the Women's Category
New women’s splitboard at Arbor.

Arbor introduced a new women’s split board. Rome introduced the Winterland, with powder-specific camber.

In Colorado, K2 Rep John Pinnick has noticed an increase in snowboarding moms and board sales for experienced riders. He attributes this to snowboarders who started during the big boom in the 90’s getting back out on the snow after having kids. At Salty Peaks Snowboard Shop, Andy Schummer is seeing “More women interested in splitboarding and getting into the backcountry.”

niche-womens
Niche’s Minx and Sonnet.

Last but not least, Niche’s 16/17 women’s boards were a big winner at SIA’s On-Snow Demo. The brand made updates to the Minx, going from a flat, to an early rise camber profile for next season according to Ana Van Pelt, co-founder and chief creative officer for Niche. Additional features give the Minx 16/17 that extra pop, dampening the vibration, and giving it more traction on the sidewall for a solid bite on turns. “The ladies loved the value-adds we were able to pack into the 16/17 Minx, but the excitement over that graphic was absolutely insane. It received more attention than any model in our lineup – men’s or women’s!” Van Pelt added that “finding a unique and cool shape in the women’s market is hard to come by,” but Niche’s Sonnet has a cool nose and tail update that make it a super fun board.

 

For more details on Women’s trends in snowboarding, including many more photos, check out contributor Rian Rhoe’s report.

 New & Refined Segments Emerge Within Women’s

In terms of price point, women consumers are searching for a high quality product, and are usually willing to dish out more for something they feel is going to endure the test of time—both aesthetically, and in its construction. This was a trend many companies were honing in on.

RVCA’s “Selects" introduced elevated tees in a drapey, soft cotton/poly fabric with finer details and higher price point of $35-$45 retail.
RVCA’s “Selects” introduced elevated tees in a drapey, soft cotton/poly fabric with finer details and higher price point of $35-$45 retail.

A prominent theme across new and old brands was an elevation in its basics offering. RVCA’s “Selects” introduced elevated tees in a drapey, soft cotton/poly fabric with finer details and higher price point of $35-$45 retail, compared to printables price point of $25 tees.

Building the Women's Category
Michelle by Comune offers the look of fashion-forward, edgy tees and athleisure silhouettes, similar to Rag & Bone or T by Alexander Wang, at wallet-friendly price points of $36-$56 retail.

Volcom also had basic T-shirt silhouettes in novelty washes. Tavik’s “Dirt Shirts” also fall into this elevated basics category.

Weather-resistant outerwear pieces were also a focal point with Element Eden, Poler, Volcom, and Vans. While these jackets aren’t aiming to compete against The North Face, Patagonia, or Arc’teryx in technical features, brands are adding DWR water-resistant coatings, tougher exterior fabrics, and heavier linings.

Building the Women's Category
Element’s broad range of outerwear pieces.

Element Eden added heavier weight quilted linings, full faux Sherpa linings, and 1000MM P/U coatings.

Building the Women's Category
Rainwear from Element Eden

They also introduced a weather resistant Rain Collection, including a raincoat and accessories.

Building the Women's Category
A new women’s jacket from Poler.

Poler’s apparel collection has been unisex, but they’ve begun introducing women-specific cuts. For Fall, the brand reinforced its outerwear collection, including a down jacket, down vest, and waterproof jackets for women.

Building the Women's Category
Otis eyewear had some great new collections going into the Agenda LB show. Their all glass lenses helps act as a point of differentiation in the sunglass market.

Otis was also making an even stronger push into the women’s eyewear market with its Spring ’16 collection, incorporating even more polarized lens options for next season.

Building the Women's Category

Its new Seaglass Collection, in collaboration with industry veteran and artist Russ Pope, is constructed of recycled seaglass frames and its signature mineral glass lenses. The new offering lends Otis a colorful pop lacking from collections past, and a lighter option compared to traditional acetate frames, says VP of Sales Charlie Anderson.

building the women's category
Herschel is making a more concerted effort in its women collection bags this season.

Expansion into women’s continued with brands like Herschel and Dakine, who have created bags that are anatomically correct for a woman.

Brixton is also honing in on the elevated price point offering for women with its Limited Collection.
Brixton is also honing in on the elevated price point offering for women with its Limited Collection.

 

For the full report, check out our coverage from Agenda Long Beach.