Vendors Raise Stakes on Lifestyle at OR

Traditional outdoor brands continue to venture into new territory.

According to vendors at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this week, the category is trending toward more lifestyle looks. To appeal to a consumer base that’s starting to use outdoor products for casual use, brands such as Hi-Tec, Lacrosse, Vibram and Keen have either added noncore products or expanded their offerings for spring ’13.

“The influence of skate and surf are making their way into the outdoor industry, and with it comes a lot of color,” said Ed van Wezel, CEO of Hi-Tec. “Before, there used to just be brown hikers, but now the industry is moving fast and it’s youthful, so that brings a lot of opportunities. ”

Retro-inspired lifestyle shoes in green and orange colorways with performance features including moisture wicking and OrthoLite sockliners punctuated Hi-Tec’s core line of trail running and hiking products. 

Also playing off heritage looks, Lacrosse upped the ante on its casual line of performance boots for women. With the new offering, the boot brand is targeting footwear-specific boutiques, as opposed to strictly outdoor shops.

“We categorize this new line as lifestyle-performance-casual,” said product line manager Colleen Fennerty. “They’re feminine looks, but they don’t lose the function and performance features.”

Portland, Ore.-based Keen is also making a big push beyond just outdoor. The brand unveiled the Keen CNX line to buyers — the company’s largest cross-category launch to date. Keen also feted its new Maderas collection, a line of slip-ons, oxfords and laced casuals with canvas uppers and vulcanized rubber soles.

Business unit director of trailhead footwear Jeff Dill said the new lines will give the firm an opportunity to broaden the consumer base at retail.

“These new offerings speak to how the outdoor market is going,” Dill said. “Today’s consumer is looking for things that are more athletic and fun.”

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