Chris Weiss's Blog

Warm Up Your Gag Reflex For More Overpriced Outdoor Fashionware

 

created at: 2011/07/11

Not surprising that this is a trend, but surprising that it's moving so fast. Not a full two weeks ago, we commented on the putrid new "Veilance" line from Arc'teryx and now Columbia, which isn't yet known for either fashionable clothing or solid outdoor apparel, is positioning itself in the mix. The company has hired on Jeffrey Kalinsky, a New York fashion designer. It plans to have an "exquisite line of ultra-premium outerwear and footwear" out by this fall. Prices? Up to about $500.

I thought this was stupid from Arc'teryx's perspective but this is just downright suicidal for Columbia. The brand is supposed to be refocusing on becoming "the most innovative company in the outdoors." That seems like enough of a task on its own without muddying the waters with a fashion line that makes it look like the exact opposite--trendy, short-lived, overpriced clothes for urbanites whose idea of "outdoors" is hopping between subway stations.

I'm starting to think the minds at Columbia belong in an asylum. Last fall, Columbia had an event where it said: “We’re calling bullshit on old and bad technology — even if it’s our own." It went on to detail some "innovative", "new" technologies like heated gloves (not only not that innovative but pure gimmick-wear), a $1,200 heated jacket (just what the industry needs right now), and a proprietary Gore-Tex 'killer'. (yeah, we've never seen anything like that before).

And after seeing this fashionware line, it would appear that those were the good ideas. I wasn't really convinced that Columbia had, has or will have what it takes to become an outdoor leader--I can't be the only one that thinks of Columbia gear not only as "old, bad technology" but as cheap, third-rate garbage that hasn't been an option since I was 13. This fashionware just makes it all that much more apparent.

Via Gear Junkie



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