In 2008/09 outerwear was the one silver lining in an otherwise dismal market—sales jumped 5.5% in dollars and 9.1% in units over 2007/08. But last year's numbers saw a decline of 4% in dollars and 6% in units for all channels—one of the worst performances for any major category. While pessimists may say last year was an abysmal one on the outerwear front, their more optimistic cousins would say that we can only go up from there.
We caught up with designers and executives from 40 outerwear companies, and despite rising production issues in China and lagging sales stats in the rear view, the optimists are kicking ass. For 2011/12, it's all systems go with refined fits, added value, new technologies, and must-have features to make next year's outerwear and accessories the most versatile and value-driven ever.