The Baselayer Boom: Warming Up Sales With New Techs & Styles
When it comes to base layers, the mantra "cotton kills" is nothing new. Nonetheless, riders have historically tapped their favorite hoodies and t-shirts for layering. During the past few years, however, technical base layers are gaining serious ground.
"Customers are realizing that cotton actually does suck for snowboarding," explains Homeschool Sales and Marketing Director Jevan Lautz. "Investing in a high-quality base layer system will allow them to stay dry and warm, which equates to more shred time." Naklin Cofounder Abe Gilreath adds that effective base layers are essential in maximizing the performance of one's entire kit. "They're the foundation that lets all the other apparel components work," he explains. "To be comfortable, you have to move moisture away from the body and onto other apparel components." Brands are turning to a range of fabrics to accomplish this. Naklin and Airblaster, for example, rely on merino wool while Homeschool employs Cocona fabrics, which use activated carbon from coconut shells to enhance breathability and dry time.
Yet today's base layers offer more than warmth and moisture management. Some garments, such as those offered by 2XU, aim to further enhance performance by providing compression. According to Director of Marketing Fred Hernandez, compression base layers can lead to "improved posture and support, increased power during activity, and better recovery."
Discerning customers are fueling progression. "Riders want something that fits well, functions well, and that also looks good," notes Airblaster Cofounder Jesse Grandkoski. This has led to innovative garments like Airblaster's signature one-piece Ninja Suit, as well as shirts, such as those from Naklin, that are at home on the slopes and in the streets. Patagonia is also at the forefront of this evolution, overhauling its entire base layer collection. "We've redesigned every piece...this season from [our proprietary] Capilene to merino wool with updated styling, features, fabrics, and fits," explains Tyler LaMotte, business unit director for snowsports.
By investing in base layers, explains Gilreath, "Snowboard shops stand to gain a market niche they have long overlooked." Brands and retailers are also finding that base layers can help drive sales outside of winter, as their benefits transcend the shred season. To secure these sales, however, brands emphasize the importance of educating consumers. Grandkoski explains, "A little education about function--whether from the sales person, from product videos, or from merchandising--goes a long way to help create a good sale."