Celebrating Great Outdoors Month with Innovative Outdoor Fashion

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THIS ARTICLE:

  • June is Great Outdoors Month. Celebrate nature and outdoor activities with a look at the data, trends and tactical role of functional fashion to enhance these experiences.
  • The rising popularity of outdoor sports and recreational activities is fueling demand and market growth for the outdoor apparel sector.
  • The global outdoor apparel market was valued at $35.2 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $62 billion by 2032.
  • Innovation & Advancements: New technologies that enhance comfort, performance, and sustainability, such as moisture-wicking fabrics, UV protection, and temperature regulation.
  • Sustainability: The importance of eco-friendly materials and practices in the production of outdoor clothing.
  • Brands and Products: Specific brands and products that are leading the way in innovative and sustainable outdoor fashion.
  • How to navigate the complexities of apparel production and leverage advanced manufacturing capabilities to maximize quality and profitability in this highly competitive sector.

Trends, Opportunities, and Adventures in Manufacturing Outdoor Apparel and Accessories

Fashion Meets Function

National Great Outdoors Month in June is an annual reminder to explore our nation’s abundant wildlife refuges, parks, and natural beauty. As we celebrate the Great Outdoors, it’s the perfect time to explore the current marketplace for outdoor apparel, along with the trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping this sector of the apparel industry as we outfit the adventurous spirit of consumers as they weather the elements.

The rising popularity of versatile outdoor fashion is transforming consumer preferences and opening up new avenues for growth and lucrative opportunities for apparel manufacturers. The fusion of function and fashion is central to high-performance and durable outdoor gear as well as significant social style trends like “athleisure” and “gorp-core” and other variations on those trending themes. Not merely a passing fad, these growth trends reflect a broader societal shift towards healthier lifestyles, sustainability, and seamless integration of style, substance, and utility. 

Athleisure: Blurring the Lines Between Fitness, Fashion, and Fun

Athleisure has taken the fashion world by storm, blurring the boundaries between workout wear and everyday attire. As people spend less time in the office and more time working remotely, the demand for professional office attire has given way to comfortable yet stylish pieces that are versatile enough to support diverse lifestyles. 

According to a recent report from Allied Market Research, the worldwide activewear market is projected to reach $771.18 billion by 2032 up from $425.5 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 6.2%.  The utility, practicality, and versatility of futuristic fashion ensembles that transition seamlessly from workwear to gymwear to streetwear highlight some of the potential of athleisure to equip busy people in their active lives.  Market trends point to ongoing innovation in functional fitness fashion, incorporating tech-infused textiles and versatile pieces. Imagine a future with innovative fabrics and intelligent tech integration enabling workout clothing that can monitor your heart rate or track muscle activity. This advanced use of technology in fabrics is quickly becoming a reality.

A recent episode of the re:COGs podcast featured a re-stream of the webinar entitled, “How to Grow Your Apparel Brand from a One-Hit Wonder to a Household Namefeaturing a Kit Garten from popular men’s wear brand, Chubbies, an activewear line that fully embraced the athleisure trend with their Momentum collection. Chubbies, known for their fun and colorful shorts, has expanded their offerings to include performance-driven activewear that maintains their signature style. The Momentum collection features moisture-wicking fabrics, four-way stretch, and anti-odor properties, making it perfect for workouts or everyday wear. By incorporating athleisure into their product line, Chubbies has successfully adapted to changing consumer preferences and positioned itself for continued growth in the market.  

Another brand that exemplifies innovative athleisure is Beyond Yoga with its responsibly sourced fabrics such as TencelTM Modal and Bluesign® Certified Spacedye fabric. Founded in 2005 and now a subsidiary of Levi Strauss & Co., Beyond Yoga has grown into a nearly $100 million omnichannel retailer, known for its body-positive, premium athleisure apparel. The brand’s commitment to inclusivity, quality, and sustainability has resonated with consumers, driving significant growth. Beyond Yoga’s expansion into direct-to-consumer channels and physical retail stores, including its recent openings outside California, showcases its ambition to become a billion-dollar brand.

As brands like Chubbies and Beyond Yoga continue to scale, partnering with experts like MFD can provide the necessary support to manage their growth efficiently. MFD offers comprehensive solutions in sourcing, production, financing, and inventory management, ensuring that rising brands can maintain their high standards while expanding their market presence. By leveraging MFD’s expertise, brands like Chubbies and Beyond Yoga can focus on what they do best: creating stylish, feel-good fitness fashion that empowers active lifestyles for people of all shapes and sizes

Gorpcore: Where Function Meets Fashion

Gorpcore, a trail mix-inspired term derived from “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts,” traditionally focused on utilitarian and rugged outdoor gear. However, it has recently undergone a transformation into “quiet gorpcore,” which emphasizes subtlety in design without sacrificing functionality. This shift caters to a demographic valuing sustainability and durability alongside style—a reflection of the shift towards environmentally conscious consumer preferences.

High-profile collaborations between outdoor brands and luxury fashion houses have propelled gorpcore into mainstream fashion, merging high aesthetics with practicality. Notable brands like The North Face, Arc’teryx, and Patagonia lead this trend, offering stylish options that retain outdoor functionality. The pandemic’s influence further boosted gorpcore’s popularity, with more individuals engaging in outdoor activities, thereby driving demand for clothing that marries elegance with utility.

This trend underscores a broader industry shift towards practical and eco-conscious fashion choices. The Business of Fashion (BoF) and McKinsey & Company’s “The State of Fashion 2024” report underline how gorp-core’s emergence and the competition among technical outdoor wear brands are reshaping consumer preferences. As a result, gorp-core has become a versatile and sought-after style choice for those blending fashion with functionality in their everyday wardrobe. 

The Outdoor Apparel Accessories Market:

A Booming Segment

Within the thriving outdoor apparel market, accessories like hats, gloves, bags, totes, and carrying cases for technology devices or tactical gear experience significant growth. The overall outdoor apparel market, valued at USD 35 billion in 2023, anticipates a CAGR of over 6.6% from 2024 to 2032. This growth is driven by increased outdoor activity participation and health and wellness emphasis, boosting demand for various outdoor apparel and accessories.

Accessories like hats, bags, and other carrying solutions are essential for outdoor activities, providing functionality and convenience for consumers engaging in golfing, hiking, camping, and other recreational pursuits. The demand for these products is expected to mirror the overall growth trend of the outdoor apparel market. The increasing trend towards integrating performance with style in outdoor apparel, including accessories, indicates that these products are becoming essential for both functional and fashion purposes, contributing to their market growth.

One interesting example of innovation in this segment is the SNAPS Ball Marker Hat Strap. SNAPS has identified a unique and valuable unbranded space in the golf market, creating a patented accessory that not only serves a functional purpose but also fosters a sense of community among golfers. The SNAPS Ball Marker Hat Strap allows golfers to conveniently carry their ball markers on the back of their hats, making it easy to access and use during a game. This accessory exemplifies the trend towards multifunctional outdoor gear that enhances the user experience both on and off the course.

The SNAPS Ball Marker Hat Strap is made from durable materials such as polymer and custom-printed silicone inserts, ensuring it can withstand the rigors of outdoor activities. Its waterproof and breathable design makes it suitable for various weather conditions, further highlighting the importance of functionality in outdoor apparel accessories. By integrating a useful tool into a stylish hat accessory, SNAPS has successfully tapped into the growing market for versatile and practical outdoor gear.

Another example of an accessory brand that has thrived in the cross-functional space of durable workwear and outdoor gorp-core is Kinco Gloves. Since its founding in 1975, Kinco has established itself as a leading provider of quality work gloves and workwear accessories for various industries, including construction, agriculture, and forestry. Known for their durability and reliability, Kinco gloves have become a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, hunters, and skiers. The brand’s commitment to quality and innovation, such as its reflective gloves and gloves with impact protection, underscores its dedication to meeting the needs of rugged outdoorsmen and women.

As Kinco continues to navigate new terrain and expand its product offerings, partnering with a company like Manufactured.com can help optimize its supply chain and inventory management practices. MFD’s expertise in sourcing, production, and financing can support Kinco in maintaining its high standards while scaling its operations to meet growing demand. By leveraging these strategic partnerships, Kinco can continue to provide reliable and innovative products to its loyal customer base, ensuring sustained growth and success in the competitive outdoor apparel market.

Market Opportunities and Challenges

The convergence of these trends presents significant opportunities for apparel manufacturers. The growing market for garments offering flexibility in use—from city streets to mountain trails—opens new avenues for product development and innovation. Manufacturers can capitalize by expanding their offerings to include eco-friendly materials and smart technologies, catering to environmentally conscious and tech-savvy consumers.

However, the path to capitalizing on these opportunities is not without its own set of challenges in the outdoor apparel market. The soft goods sector is highly complex and extremely competitive, demanding continuous innovation to stay relevant. Supply chain issues, especially in sustainable sourcing and production, pose significant hurdles impacting industry sustainability efforts. Moreover, balancing fashion trends with quality and sustainability commitments can be daunting for apparel brands.

Despite the challenges, the rewards of tapping into these burgeoning fashion trends are substantial. The outdoor apparel market boasts a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) exceeding 6.6% from 2024 to 2032, outpacing many segments. Brands successfully marrying style with functionality and sustainability with technology are poised for considerable growth.

Investing in research and development for innovative, eco-friendly materials can differentiate brands in a crowded market, appealing to a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers. Collaborating with like-minded partners and suppliers streamlines sustainability efforts, reducing the planet’s impact. Embracing challenges as growth opportunities ensures success as outdoor-inspired functional fashion continues to evolve.

Navigating the Complexities of Apparel and Soft Goods Manufacturing.

The apparel industry is multifaceted, demanding a deep understanding of trends, manufacturing intricacies, and supply chain management. Unlike machine-made goods, garments pass through many hands, introducing variability that is challenging to manage. However, fashion brands leverage expertise and industrial intelligence to simplify soft goods manufacturing complexities and achieve success.

According to a Global Data report, the global apparel market was valued at over $2 trillion USD in 2022, with projections indicating a continued growth trajectory at a CAGR of more than 4% during 2022–2027. This growth is attributed to several factors, including the continued expansion of e-commerce channels, the resurgence of consumer spending post-lockdowns, and the industry’s ongoing innovation and improvements in sustainable practices and supply chain efficiencies.

Despite the optimistic growth forecasts, the apparel industry is also expected to encounter its fair share of uncertainties and challenges. McKinsey’s 2024 analysis predicts top-line growth of 2 to 4 percent for the global industry, reflecting subdued economic growth, persistent inflation, and weak consumer confidence. These factors contribute to a cautious outlook for the industry, emphasizing the need for businesses to identify new value drivers and adapt to changing market dynamics.

Whether a business survives and thrives in this highly competitive industry comes down to its team’s ability to navigate uncertainties, adapt to changing market demands, and sustain its growth momentum during transformative times. Partnering with apparel experts like the team at Manufactured (MFD), which can provide flexible financing solutions along with essential industry knowledge, can be a game-changer for apparel brands looking to scale.

Challenges and Considerations

Soft-line product creation involves an intricate process often underestimated by industry newcomers. Garment production’s multi-step journey, encompassing up to 35 stages from design to distribution, requires deep industry understanding. Achieving low defect rates and meeting retail standards require expertise and knowledge handed down through generations.

Navigating these complexities requires seasoned professionals to recognize the value of expert partnerships. Companies like Manufactured (MFD) specialize in fashion apparel, providing expertise in sourcing, production, financing, and inventory management to address challenges and foster sustainable business growth.

How MFD Supports the Growth of Outdoor Apparel

Manufactured (MFD) specializes in aiding rising apparel brands with sourcing, production, financing, and inventory management. Custom product development and white/private label offerings expand brand lines with competitive pricing. Flexible financing aids channel expansion from digital to wholesale, supporting cash flow and production timelines.

MFD’s expertise and network help stabilize finances, broaden distribution channels, and rejuvenate brands by introducing new concepts and designs. By partnering, apparel companies gain insights and tools for sustainable growth amidst industry complexities.

Answer Nature’s Call to Embrace the Great Outdoors with Adventurous Apparel Partners

As we honor National Great Outdoors Month, versatile functional outdoor fashion trends signify a broader shift towards healthier, sustainable lifestyles. Apparel manufacturers embracing these trends benefit from substantial rewards. Innovating to meet evolving demands, brands contribute to a more sustainable and active future—answering the great outdoors call.

The challenges faced in apparel manufacturing are valuable opportunities that promote growth and drive transformation in the ever-changing fashion sector. Collaboration with Manufactured (MFD) ensures expert support for navigating complexities, seizing opportunities, and achieving sustained success amidst transformative times.

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