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Perfect style & design come with innovations for fashionable women
05
Jul '08
The days are long gone when women were portrayed in the outdoor industry as little more than a decorative accessory for broad-shouldered men. For years now, the female gender has been taking mountains and valleys by storm.

This has prompted manufacturers to focus increasingly on the needs of women, as can be witnessed by the new range of products on display at the OutDoor international trade show, 17-20 July 2008, in Friedrichshafen.

The sleeves were too long, the shoulders too wide, the pockets too massive and the hip area too narrow. That's how unisex jackets looked on most women mountain climbers up to about ten years ago.

Nowadays, most outdoor firms have added women's versions to match their typical men's models, especially in their range of clothing products.

“The fit, the style and the design have all become more feminine – in other words, the clothing perfectly complements the female anatomy,” is how Vaude spokeswoman Birgit Weber explains the difference.

Women have more discerning tastes and are more critical shoppers than men. Julia Haselmayer from Jack Wolfskin: “The materials have to be softer, more natural, more pleasant to the touch, but without sacrificing functionality.”

Active women also pay more attention to details. “Women don't want extra external pockets on bags, jackets and trousers, because they look too bulky,” says Constanze Bresgen from Salewa.

Fashionable colours are also extremely important. For instance, one of the trend colours for the new season is “red pepper”.

Not surprisingly, the women's product range of virtually every manufacturer on the market has been designed by women.

Companies that sell products worldwide realised long ago that the female gender has special equipment needs. Now the industry has reacted by introducing innovations for women.

Women's backpacks and rucksacks from Jack Wolfskin, for example, are shorter in the back and there is less space between the shoulder straps than with conventional models.

Vaude now even features a backpack in its product line with a detachable top pouch that can be used as a toiletries bag.

“Women appreciate these kinds of details,” says Birgit Weber. There are even differences in foam mattresses: The latest women's models have extra padding around the mid section “because women prefer to sleep on their sides,” says the Salewa spokeswoman.

Sleeping bags have also been adapted to meet feminine needs. “Our latest creations at OutDoor 2008 are heated sleeping bags and an Openflex model that can be opened from below so women can sit around a camp fire all wrapped up and warm, yet still be able to stand up and move around.”

Since a growing number of women are interested in extreme sports like speed climbing and mountaineering, manufacturers are also endeavouring to meet the demands of these young women outdoor sports enthusiasts.

When it comes to fashion and equipment for women, the outdoor industry promises to enjoy continued rapid growth over the coming years.

European OutDoor

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