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Please someone explain this to me
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Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/21/2011 16:58:35 MDT Print View

Just to add something new to this thread, it could be that more than American color tastes are involved... and it affects men's clothing as well as women's. Visited the Marmot storefront in San Francisco on a layover last month and asked why their hooded, 8 oz (published), lined Ether windshirt did not come in more subdued colors (I prefer light grey to blend in everywhere). Was told that Europeans tend to like more colorful outdoor clothing and they were trying to sell more over there. Great. Looks like the craze of late 1980's (teal + purple) might be making a comeback. Everyday being a MYOG-type looks better and better.

Then again for snowshoeing, maybe "search and rescue" orange is a viable option.

Edited by hknewman on 07/21/2011 18:02:51 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: women's clothing on 07/21/2011 17:23:51 MDT Print View

This rant thread is hilarious.

I'm not exactly sure what the grip is anymore. I think it's about small pockets and sales and colors and cuts and fabrics. Are the colors "too boring" or "too bright?" And even though women have twice as many options as men, there is still discontent. And, to top it all off, this is the product of discrimination against women... with a big D.

This issue is important to me, because eleven (Dicey Jane, Gumbi, Fern, Mega, Banshee, Z, Belcher, Softball, Red, Party Time, and Biz) out of twelve (Mad Max being the only guy) of my hiking and backpacking partners are women. I don't want to see them going out into the wilderness unprepared! Also, in addition to backpacking with all of these ladies, I've gone shopping for gear with all but two of them. So, I believe I have a pretty good sense of what's available for women.

The issue isn't discrimination. It's that men wear somewhat baggy clothing is sizes S, M, L, and maybe XL, which come in three colors: black, grey and "color." While, women seem to come in an almost endless assortment of body-types and with an infinite array of opinions on what constitutes "cute." For example, hikinggranny, you were wrong about the fit of the rain shell. My GF is taller than me, with a lean, muscular, yoga instructors body (which she is employed to teach) and long arms and legs. The shell jacket I bought for her has a tight cut, and is long in her torso and short on her arms. The rest of these ladies range in height and weight and dimension (edit: well, I won't share all those numbers, but I know them). None of these women are short on outdoor clothing options when we backpack.

Finally, with regard to sales. All the sales I see are things like 20% ALL clothing or 15% student discount or whatever. Perhaps we just have more equitable stores where we live, but I doubt that's the case.

Overall, I guess this rant just makes me laugh, because with all the household spending power that women control, particularly around clothing, I'd be shocked if these companies weren't carefully testing and marketing toward women.

Edited by vinovampire on 07/21/2011 17:25:57 MDT.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/21/2011 17:48:48 MDT Print View

I've never had issues with finding things on sale but, 9 times out of 10 the shirts I find on the clearance and sales racks are cotton and most of them don't work!

You can't have non gender specific clothes and have them work. If companies did that, I'd have pants that fit in the hips but felt like a circus tent in the legs or fit in the legs but I wouldn't be able to get it over my big butt. Companies are not even pretending to actually make things in a Woman's cut. Even Marmot, who insists their items are "not a smaller men's" still, do not accommodate for one of the two most important differences between men and women: Hips! No matter what company I buy from, I am always having to undo my hip strap and pull my shirt down or my pants up because they don't make room for my hips and slide one way or the other. Then there's the worst issue for me, crawling shorts that I'm constantly pulling down because with every step they crawl up my legs a little more. The only people who have even done a remotely good job that I've tried is Columbia. I could care less about the colors and I really feel there are bigger issues with clothes than color and frankly I'd take it in hot pink (a color I hate) if it worked for a change.

Also have to +1 all the people who pointed out that half the clothes are "yoga" clothes and the other half are pants that are too low in the waist and jackets that don't hang past my belly button. If I can't put my arms up without my mid section showing I don't buy it, so that cuts out A LOT of options.

Edited by JoslynB on 07/21/2011 18:11:34 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/21/2011 18:39:01 MDT Print View

"If I can't put my arms up without my mid section showing I don't buy it..."

+2 here! I have no desire to expose my not-very-beautiful midriff (no woman's is after 5 pregnancies) to the local mosquito population!

For me, too, hips are an issue! Mine are just naturally 4-5 inches bigger than my upper body measurements, even when I'm underweight! That makes it difficult for me to wear either men's or women's tops (most of us women can otherwise wear men's tops if we don't mind them baggy) unless I buy them 2 sizes too big for my upper body.

As I said before, most of that "large selection of women's clothing" you men are so envious of is completely unsuitable for backpacking, and a large proportion of the rest won't fit those of us females who don't have an anorexic model figure.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/21/2011 19:01:08 MDT Print View

Part of this is due to outsourcing production to China. I was there for over a year and saw many U.S. brands in local markets. The sizes were often way off. The Chinese are very slim and small for the most part and I think this tendency has entered the supply chain . I regularly see stuff at department stores that has that look of weird glitz and skinny sizing that says"Beijing" to me. But KFC . Pizza Hut . and Big Macs will soon adjust the sizing and the disease rates.

Edited by Meander on 07/21/2011 19:06:17 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: If I had one gripe(s)..... on 07/21/2011 19:29:11 MDT Print View

If I could whine it would be that the majority of clothing - all clothing, not just outdoorsy is made for small boobage. If you wear above a B things get weird. Above a C and you might as well hang a sign on them that says "HELLO!"

So big boobs and the shirts ride up in front and then stretch out weirdly - puckering the fabric.

Oh yeah, and near see through fabric. If you get high beams going in the cold and you can see EVERYPART of the high beam it isn't good...well unless you are a guy staring.

It is also why women with bigger cup size have to spend serious cash for good bras. You guys think you have it tough? Try finding maybe one or two bras that work, don't look matronly and support high intensity activities - and don't cost more than $55. Yeah, fat chance. When I was pregnant with the last baby I had to buy bras just for those few months that I can't wear now! I spent nearly $150 so I could just walk in comfort!!

Jessica Rankin
Re: If I had one gripe(s)..... on 07/21/2011 22:06:34 MDT Print View

Here here for bra sizes and big hips, that's my problem right there. I would totally wear men's clothing if I could get some that actually fit correctly. Totally don't mind drab colors, unfortunately I'm shaped like a woman, big butt, big top, if I could buy just for my waist size I'd be in heaven. Most women's outdoor clothing is not made for real women, look what REI did to the Sahara pants this year. Ruler straight from top to bottom and crap for pockets. Oh!!! And notice how the guys got the no-sit zips and we didn't? What's up with that? Guys get cool stuff and we deal with second rate, inferior material, heavy, pocketless weird stuff.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/21/2011 23:16:21 MDT Print View

Marketing, bell curves, design by committee, fashion over function, bad choices, stuff designed by people who have never stepped of the pavement, and God only knows what else.

It's obvious to me: girls should stay home and wear pink and make cakes. They shouldn't be climbing mountains and running around the woods :)

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F

go talk to them ...

You’ve all seen the slogan “Guide Built” on the First Ascent ads, but you must wonder what that slogan really means and how it applies to the brand.

Let me start by saying that it means just that: Guide built, or built by guides — professionals who spend most of their time not only playing, but also working in the outdoors. Each person on the team is a professional who goes out there, puts the products to the test in all sorts of weather and conditions, exposes the products to their clients and communicates feedback to the First Ascent design team. But that’s only one part of our job description.

The team also meets a few times a year with the design team to talk about the product, clarify why some features work and how they can be improved, what material performs the best, and also what we would like to see in the upcoming line.

This past week, we had the first women-only meeting at Eddie Bauer headquarters in Bellevue, WA. All the women on the FA team gathered to brainstorm and share ideas and experiences we each had in our different sports (alpine, ski) with the products. We got measured to get a better idea of how to define the women athlete and fit the clothing more specifically to her body and needs. I really enjoyed every aspect of it because we got to touch on design and fit as well as marketing, merchandising, marketing and creative. We maximized our time and still managed to fit in a little bouldering session at the new bouldering gym in Seattle. This meeting was a great way to get to know the other women better and also to address women specifics.

Our next meeting will be in Ashford during the Rainier Mountain Festival where we will be meeting with the rest of the team — the men — and build on what we talk about during this past meeting. All I can say for sure is that we have a lot of great products to look forward to!

Tell us: What would you like to see in our women’s line?

Wayne Wagner
(wagnerw) - F

Locale: NorCal
my limited experience on 07/22/2011 00:54:27 MDT Print View

Well, I have very limited experience in this matter. Additionally, I have never compared the size of the sales or areas of the store devoted to each gender. I did, however, attempt, at one point a few years back, to purchase a fleece for my then-girlfriend. She was Florida raised, and therefore very unprepared for any kind of cold. This would be an item for use around town, as she was not a backpacker. I wanted to buy her a fleece from an outdoor company because 1) I knew that the name brand would hold a lot of weight to her as it would imply warmth and comfort, etc. (I know this is kind of lame, but you use these thoughts when crafting successful presents) and 2) I hoped that I would be able to find one that kept her warm and comfortable. I felt I would be more successful at this than she might have been shopping in a mall somewhere. My observation: this was a really tough assignment. All fleeces I could find were either a) really thin or b) designed to show off her midriff if she put her hands up. After many trips to many different outdoor stores, I finally found a fleece that was thick enough to offer some warmth and long enough to cover her midriff for normal range of motion. At this point, I picked the color that looked the best to me. Sadly, I picked the wrong color and we had to exchange it, but the fleece was another gift in a long line of gifts that I had given that were homeruns. It should not have been this difficult, though, in my opinion.

I cannot comment on the general state of women's gear or the sale racks or whatever, but I can say that my one attempt at finding a relatively simple item was a real barn burner.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Please someone explain this to me" on 07/22/2011 01:29:00 MDT Print View

"Why are outdoor companies sexist towards women? Do we not like cool stuff too, do we not like sales on preferred items too? Clothing in boring colors I don't mind, but pockets so small as to not be functional? Have great brand wide sales sure, put the equivalent women's item on sale too, no. Fail, they all fail."

How are outdoor companies being sexist? En contrare, they're taking into great consideration that the majority of women will be utilizing purses or hand bags, larger pockets aren't really necessary. That's pretty thoughtful.

Outdoor companies know women like sales on preferred items.....but.... in the spirit of good business, they know that women are going to 'swipe the card' if they see something they like whether it's on sale or not, they're only responding to the patterns dictated by the consumer. Can you blame them?

Equivalent women's item?

What equivalent women's item? I thought that was what this thread was about, how women's clothing is NOT created equally?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Please someone explain this to me on 07/22/2011 02:27:33 MDT Print View

Yeah, I don't know if it was a But I just envisioned some tourist who just stepped out of the bus looking like they are in a north face catalog but can't stand to get a little mud on their brand new boots.
It's amazing how far you can see a red dot in open tundra.
I was overeating, but to me it was little annoying. It was fluorescent red, not plain red is what really made it catch my eye.
I sometimes care about fashion... I don't like the look of most technical, new age outdoorsy clothing. I prefer the grizzled hitchhiker look with a slight metrosexual flair.

Edited by justin_baker on 07/22/2011 02:29:06 MDT.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: "Please someone explain this to me" on 07/22/2011 08:55:18 MDT Print View

@Eugene - Show me a woman carrying a purse in the middle of the woods and I could agree with you, but the truth is I don't need a purse on a week long backpacking trips. I could however use a pocket that held more than a scrap of paper. If you want pants to go with your purse you're not shopping at an outdoor store. I understand that there a lot of women out there who are shopping for "travel" clothes that are cute and not high activity clothes, but as many women I as I see and know who backpack, paddle, and climb you'd think the least companies could do is have one or two items that worked. I really don't think that's asking too much.

@Eric - Gotta say I'm interested to see what First Ascent comes up with. Looks very promising!

Jessica Rankin
"Please someone explain this to me" on 07/22/2011 10:12:40 MDT Print View

@Eugene If I was buying something from the modern day mall to not wear in the outdoors, then by all means, take away my pockets. You're probably right in that sense, those women don't need massive pockets. But we're talking about outdoor stores, not your typical "mall stores"

I was at my local REI annoying my fiance about this very subject a few days ago. The women's dept was useless, all fashion clothing with very little real outdoor clothing, the men's dept had hiking pants, multiple different brands, we had some columbia pants and some REI branded pants. And that's about it. The men's section had a fair amount of insulating clothing, us, we had some pretty cap sleeved loose fit shirts, nothing truly practical.

If a brand wants to make the claim that they are an outdoor company, then let them make true outdoor clothing for both genders. If they want to make a travel line in addition to the technical clothing, then by all means do so, both men and women will purchase that stuff, if that's what they are in to. I am not one of those people.

Give me pockets or give me death!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
odd on 07/22/2011 10:48:13 MDT Print View

thats odd over here womens clothing is giving at least the same amount of space as mens clothing ...

and the selection is just as good ... not to say picky women will always find something ... but there is a LOT here

and the sale racks are even more full of womens clothing ...

i personally dont care about pockets ... if its too small or there are none ... if it fits and its cheap, its mine ... i guess thats the difference between men and women ... men will literally wear anything

once you add in the kid n todler outdoor sections ... id say retailers know what sells and what doesnt sell to the average consumer ... their POS systems provide pretty instant sales summaries on what is moving and whats not ... a company like MEC or REI doesnt waste dead space if they can help it

maybe there is a market for outdoor gear with pear shapes, bigger pockets, etc ... for women ... but manuf dont seem to think so .. or rather they think theyd rather not have those people wear their "fashionable" lifetsyle clothes ... which honestly the majority are

Dan Briggs
(dbriggs9) - F

Locale: Southeast
pockets? on 07/22/2011 15:13:36 MDT Print View

I know not everyone hikes like I do, but the only times I really need pockets is off the trail for my wallet, keys and cell phone; none of which I have on the trail. What do you need pockets for?
I prefer my jackets to not have pockets to save weight, bringing gloves if it's chilly. I primarily hike in pocketless running shorts. My hiking pants have your standard hip and butt pockets, all of which go unused. I suppose if I was hiking off trail I'd use them for a map and compass. I put a data sheet in a hipbelt pocket when I bring my hipbelt, otherwise that goes in a plastic bag in the side pocket of my pack.

It seems like the main problem is getting a proper fit, whatever that means. Hopefully that issue can be resolved by the ladies at First Ascent.

Jessica Rankin
"Please someone explain this to me" on 07/22/2011 16:59:06 MDT Print View

Its not pockets per say, its more a lack of functionality. Men's clothing seems to be made to be used, women's clothing seems to be made to look at, regardless if its outdoor specific clothing or not.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
floor space isn't parity... on 07/22/2011 19:34:51 MDT Print View

The sheer amount of women's clothes available doesn't change the fact that, compared to the men's clothes, a much smaller proportion of them are fit for actual outdoor use and sized to fit actual outdoorswomen and not catalog models. At least that is what I what I understood Jessica to originally be saying.

Laural Bourque

Locale: PNW
Re: floor space isn't parity... on 08/08/2011 22:05:24 MDT Print View

Right. I shop at REI with my boyfriend, and there are far more functional pieces of clothing on the men's side, that I constantly drool over.

The stuff on sale is almost always XS or XL, by the way.

I had to get the ugliest colored Montbell UL Parka last week as that was the only one that they had for women except for S and XL.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: "Please someone explain this to me" on 08/09/2011 09:15:31 MDT Print View

[Quote]Its not pockets per say, its more a lack of functionality. Men's clothing seems to be made to be used, women's clothing seems to be made to look at, regardless if its outdoor specific clothing or not.[/Quote]

I think the above is the key difference. The amount of clothing is approxamately the same but the functionality is not. This however is not sexist, or in fact the companies faults. This trend is all on the consumer. If we go back to common stereotypes men will by for function first whereas women will buy for appearance. Now this is definately not 100% true however Outdoor companies know who they are selling to and know what products sell well.

So the real question isn't how come outdoor retailers don't supply equivalant women's clothing it is How do you convince women(general society not BPL) to buy a product based solely on function rather than fit and form.

Edited by GregF on 08/09/2011 09:16:38 MDT.