Like everything else, Outdoor Retailer Snow Show is different this year. Because of Omicron, a lot of the bigger, more established brands pulled out of the annual trade show. Normally I would go 2-3 days of the show, but this time condensed my time at the show to one day, which happened to be a snowy day.
As I walked into the smaller show it reminded me of Winter Show 2018, one of my first Outdoor Retailer experiences. Like that show in 2018, I was able to discover some up and coming brands that I may not have otherwise seen in a larger show. It was a great day for me of learning and discovering brands creating cool products while also trying to be good stewards to Earth. Here are three stand-out brands I found.
California Cowboy specialized in social technical apparel. All of their pieces are designed for après, relaxation, or just looking cool after adventures. Each piece has a bottle pocket, including the La Sirena Robe with a champagne bottle-sized back pocket. The Apres Ski jacket is a unisex style that will be out in late fall. The flannels are fabulous and my favorite is the Western High Sierra denim shirt. I love all the pockets and features of the shirts including the thermal on the inside and the water resistant dry pocket for your phone. The brand promotes digital wellness, including a copper pouch you can put your phone in when you want to disconnect. Bianca who was showing me the product line said, “Your phone is a brick when in pouch.”
Solid State Clothing is ultra transparent about the production of each shirt. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Eric Henry, president of TS Designs, and how he created the Solid State brand during the pandemic. Based in Burlington, North Carolina, Solid State is using traditional methods using local, sustainable materials starting with 100% U.S.-grown cotton by North Carolina farmers. Once harvested the cotton is spun into yarn, knitted into fabric, cut and sewn into shirts then dyed within 600 miles and two states (NC and SC) versus the 13,000-15,000 miles a typical tee travels in overseas production. Solid State is so transparent about the manufacturing process that each garment has a QR code that details its supply chain journey. Most plant based dyes are overseas and imported right now, but Solid State is starting to use black walnut, marigolds and others plants to create some of their dyes. While chatting about the dyes, Courtney said, “We’re using the secret power of plants to make the amazing colors.” Pomegranate rind, which would normally be discarded, madder root, fustic, and oak are just some of the plants and trees they’re testing for potentials dyes. Their North Carolina Black Walnut Shirt is made from 100% North Carolina grown cotton and dyed with locally-foraged black walnuts. Before 1850 all clothes in dyed in America were done so with plant based dyes. I love to buy locally made products and support made in America brands. As a child in South Carolina I remember the demise of the textile industry that started in the 1970s. I love seeing a brand trying to manufacture clothes using local cotton in the Carolinas. The bonus for me is the use of plant-based dyes in these shirts that run $55-65.
Moonbikes are like dirt bikes, but for snow and 100% electric. These are a lighter and quieter alternative to snowmobiles. They weigh 181.5 pounds and are “the world’s first ultralight electric snowbike.” They are made in the French Alps with its North American headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. They can go up to 26 miles per hour and you get 60-90 minutes on one charge. These bikes are hot in Europe as rental fleets and for private use in the United States. The first product run is pretty much spoken for and there’s a waitlist. At $8,500, they are pricey, but I’d love to go off-roaring in a snow-covered landscape.