Market Insights

Category Spotlight: Outerwear

This Winter, outside has become the new inside. In an effort to boost mental and physical health while staying safe, there is a noticeable upswing in outdoor activities. Sidewalks are full of outdoor dining, more people are walking instead of taking public transportation, and trips to museums and theaters are replaced with walks and hikes.

One apparel category that is benefiting from these trends is outerwear.

Outdoor dining at Fairfax Cafe and Wine Bar, photo by Stephen Yang

As the activities we focus our free time on shift this year, so does our wardrobe. We’re spending less on warm weather escapes (and the outfits that go with them) and more on local outdoor activities and fresh new outerwear to match.

A new 2020 study reports that parkas sold out 89% more times between June and September in 2020 in the US compared to the same time last year. Additionally, leather jacket sales more than doubled in the UK and coat sales were up 92% in France. Shoppers are investing more in products that last—and many see this trend and interest in outdoor products continuing for the entire year, even post-pandemic.

This study by Edited shows jackets sold out 89% more times between June and September in 2020.

As we continue to talk to brands across many categories and welcome shoppers across all our stores, it’s clear there are 3 trends to take note of in today’s Category Spotlight.

1. Outerwear brands are betting on experiential stores to win

Canada Goose experiential Pop Up

Canada Goose recently opened an interactive pop up in China, leading “visitors through various displays…while also including a sensory component via blasts of cold air, encouraging visitors to bundle up in a warm parka.”

Cotopaxi recently open 3 new stores in Q4 2020 across Utah, Seattle and Denver

Successful brands like Cotopaxi and Oros are separating themselves beyond just e-commerce and DTC, using retail to build their omnichannel business. This deeper offline-online integration is crucial as there’s increased competition in the winter wear and outdoor sector. With buy online pick up in store, in-store appointments, and full omnichannel capabilities accelerating retail growth during the pandemic—outerwear brands that take this 360 approach will thrive.

2) Sell outerwear, but make it fashion

With a pop-up in Williamsburg and lines around the corner on opening day, the new The North Face x Gucci pop up store features sensory, outdoorsy elements like plush-fake grass, expertly styled mannequins and is selling out of its long-awaited puffer coat.

Additionally, modern brands like the vegan faux fur brand Apparis are benefiting greatly from the recent trends, selling out in many popular styles and partnering with Something Navy in their Leap powered NYC flagship.

Arielle Charnas of Something Navy wearing Apparis

3) Brands must lean in, and ride the momentum

With the shift to outdoor activities there is momentum and a new tailwind for Outerwear. Winning brands are leaning in and riding the moment. In late December, Arc’teryx announced three new store openings in New York with a new concept: Icon stores to “simplify the shopping experience…so their guests can find their perfect product so they can get outside sooner and stay out longer.” And brands are continuously serving up content and campaigns to reflect the new times. REI placed more focus on its digital content, offering up workout IGTV’s with their brands and an outdoor product spotlight series, while Paris-based label Casablanca released a ski-inspired drop as part of its winter collection, since snowsuits have become the new Instagram trend this season. Plus-size fashion brand Fashion to Figure also debuted its après ski collection in collaboration with CURVYCon founder Chastity Garner Valentine to get in on the trend, and the moment.

Arc’teryx Store in Soho — Instagram Photo: @arcteryx

How to win in 2021 and beyond

When it comes to outerwear, winning brands are breaking out of normal conventions and riding the momentum of the times. Product lines are continuing to evolve with new collabs launching and experiential retail is at the forefront of this strategy despite natural headwinds. Brands are setting themselves apart by going beyond instagram and their e-commerce to create deeper relationships with their customers through omnichannel stores. As we head into the heart of winter 2021, there truly is a tremendous amount of opportunity for outwear brands to seize the moment.