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  • Snow Apparel Trends for 2003/04: Street-Smart Looks & Protection from Winter's Harshest Elements

    Photo courtesy Obermeyer More and more parents are discovering that winter sportswear works great for their kids, even if they don't ski or never get near the slopes. Waterproof fabrics, functional details, and cool, trendy styles are attracting kids from the teen years down to toddlers.

    Hot Trends for 2003-04

    Looks, along with function, are ever important. "The teenage market is the most fickle," says Betty Tung, president of Fera. "Compared to a couple of years ago, our junior girls collection has become very distinguished. Styles are very shaped with feminine, but not glitzy, touches."

    Some brands are even enlisting the aid of design teams comprised of children to come up with "kid-approved" leading edge styles. Sport Obermeyer, for instance, partners with athletes and coaches from top junior development teams like Killington Mountain School in Vermont and The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club in Colorado, to pinpoint fit, fabrics and features that offer top performance.

    For 2003-04, styles run the gamut from freeriding designs to race-oriented pieces to outfits that follow street style trends. Fera even sells a jean jacket and low-rise winter pant, made of waterproof denim. For preschoolers, designers offer cute whimsical patterns and pastel or bright colors in jackets and pants with room-to-grow features. Styles are just as functional as adults' winter wear, featuring jackets with zip-in linings, detachable hoods, fleece-lined collars and moisture wicking mesh linings. Fabrics keep pace with the latest trends in winter wear. Finishes include soft shells, stretch and satin.

    Hot Product Highlights for Winter 2003-04

    Burton: When it comes to junior apparel, Burton does not skimp on features or fabrics. The new P13 System Jacket is a true four-in-one functionality for the ultimate in versatility. It has a removable reversible fleece component for four different levels of customization. It uses Storm-lite 1.0 two-layer shell combined with features like mesh-lined pit zips, double chest pockets, Exo-Contour hood and a CD pocket with a controller window. A zip-in component fleece coordinates. For girls, the new Trinity System Jacket has a removable, reversible fleece jacket that zips into it. Other features are similar to that of the P13.

    Columbia Sportswear: Columbia Sportswear offers a wide range of outerwear for children and teens, in prices to fit every budget. For boys, the Storm Watcher Jacket has Hydroplus nylon with mesh lining; it is fully seam-sealed and waterproof, attached hood with volume adjustment/storage tab; zip-closed pockets, packable piece. Colors include hydro blue, stinger (yellow) and blue ridge (a darker blue). The Boy's Adler Trail jacket is a straight-cut piece with subtle styling in either dark (black, navy) or bright (like orange and yellow) colors. The Girl's Adler Trail is similar in styling and comes in pastel hues (blue), brights (yellow, red violet) and darker shades (azure).

    Expanding on its basic layer collection, Columbia introduces the new Odyssey Crew and Pant for children. It is constructed of a soft-spun polyester and micro-filament polyester to create a performance fit, allowing for the maximum range of motion to cover a wide range of outdoor activities. The inner layer is designed to pull moisture away from the body, while the outer layer transports the moisture through the garment for rapid evaporation. "The fabric has the perfect mix of stretch and breathability-ideal for active children playing with Mother Nature," explains Karen Strong, pr consultant for Columbia.

    Descente: This Japanese brand with strong racing roots branches out for 2003-04 with freeriding-inspired pieces. Colors are different, too, with baby blue and pink for girls; sand, dark red and blue for boys.

    Rippin' Rider Hailey models Phenix Phenix: In its junior collection, Phenix now offers the same top materials and features. The Norway World Cup group is designed to meet the needs of young racers. Jackets use a 10,000-mm waterproof stretch fabric, with critical seam sealing and a detachable hood. Functional full side-zip pants with removable suspenders match the jackets. For the pint-sized group, Phenix introduces Aerothermo, a proprietary soft shell technology, on its Thor jacket and Loki race short for the ultimate in comfort and flexibility. For girls, the Jewel line is aimed at girls looking for trendy colors and styling. Pieces include the new Amber and Sapphire jackets. Phenix also introduces its first freeride-inspired jacket, the Sonora, and pants, the Atlas Cargo Pant, for girls. For boys, there is an entire collection of freeride outerwear.

    The Suku-Suku collection is aimed at young skiers, down to size four. With the pull of a hidden drawstring, the outfits are designed to literally grow with a child and then shrink back down when it's time to hand down to the next up and coming ripper in the family. Designed for two full seasons worth of growth but with built-in durability for much longer, Suku-Suku's eight inches of adjustment are very generous. Best yet, a set of jacket and pants are easy on the pocketbook, at under $200.

    Fera: Fera's new junior girl's collection has become very distinguished, according to company president Betty Tung, who says styles are very shaped and feminine, but not glitzy. Colors are more neutral (white with khaki, silver gray, light blue) and silhouettes range from sport to urban. The low-waisted Britney pant for girls is a crossover style for ski and street wear. This season it comes in waterproof denim. The new Jr. Jordan is a vented brushed mesh-lined pant with a contrast side strip in a low-rider style. Jackets are shorter for 2003-04, with a more flattering shape. There is also a waterproof-nylon denim jean jacket in black or blue. The junior boys' collection has alpine styling and colors, with inner powder skirts, hideaway hoods and fleece inner collars. The new Jr. Terrain pant is a vented, brushed mesh-lined style.

    For little girls, jackets and suits feature lots of quilting, embroidery, faux-fur trim in a variety of lengths and silhouettes. The little boys' group features traditional styling and colors. Special details include inner powder skirts, hideaway hoods and fleece-lined inner collars.

    Jolly Tundra/Jolly Kidz: This brand uses a technical pile fabric with exclusive patterns; it looks like wool flannel but it is made with polyester/acrylic microfibers. Outerwear is sized infant through 14-16. Styles include jackets, vests and baby bunting pieces with matching hats and mittens.

    Molehill Mountain Equipment: This Colorado-based brand is famous for its signature Fleece Wear, with colorful fleece pieces in fun prints and solids. For 2003-04, bright citrine solids and coordinating "fruit loops" prints make a bold statement. An icy re-coloring of the favorite "mod squad" print blends cobalts, electric greens, blues, grays and black. The fleece is a nine-ounce polyester microfleece, so soft and so versatile a "parent will have trouble getting their kids to take them off on wash day," according to president Doug Faude. These items can be worn as a next-to-skin layer during outdoor winter activities or as fashionable activewear when worn alone. Pieces include microfleece pullovers, bottoms and bungie-beret hats.

    Functional details that really work for kids are important. Pullovers feature a raglan sleeve cut, YKK zippered neck and black contrasting stripes up the sides and at the collar. Bottoms have a stretch-fit styling and an elastic waistband. Bungie berets have a stretch cord and barrel lock feature that makes them one size fit all.

    For the first time, Molehill offers a waterproof-breathable line of jackets and pants. "This line is one of the only taped-seamed waterproof-breathable rain gear lines designed especially for kids," said Faude. Special features include adjustable hook-and-loop closures, drawstring closures and multiple zipper flaps to guarantee against seepage in all conditions. Rugged dobby nylon shoulders on the jackets and kick plates on the pants offer improved durability.

    Molehill also has upgraded its Shelled Gear offering without raising prices. Zippered pockets and internal zipper flaps improve functionality; Cordura on the shoulders and elbows add to the durability.

    Photo courtesy Obermeyer Sport Obermeyer: Obermeyer has been a leader in the children's outerwear arena with its performance-oriented designs featuring the same components as adult skiwear and boardwear. To design its "kid-approved" leading edge line, Obermeyer partners with athletes and coaches from top junior development teams like Killington Mountain School in Vermont, and The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club in Colorado, to pinpoint fit, fabrics and features that offer top performance. As a result, every junior style is built with waterproof breathable fabrics, storm-barrier features, lightweight high-lofting insulation, reinforced construction and adjustable fit.

    The Alt 2 Girls group for preschoolers uses trusted fabrics and features for extra warmth and comfort. The newest styles feature fun sparkle fleece and faux fur and gusseted adjustable cuff closures. The Snowangels collection for little girls has adorable designs and soft, warm, weatherproof comfort aimed at snowplay or school. A soft, satin fabric is new as are gusseted adjustable cuff closures. For boys, the OBX group is a collection of bold, bright and durable outerwear with waterproof-breathable protection, excellent fit and easy-to-use features. Jackets even have functional compasses.

    For older girls, Obermeyer's Alt 3 Girls is a feminine freeride styling collection designed for all-mountain, all-weather performance.

    Spyder: This technical performance brand gets a lot of its inspiration from racers and U.S. Ski Team members have helped with design. The Mini Moe collection, for toddler boys, was originally developed with ex-Olympian Tommy Moe. Nowadays, the line is more diverse, drawing inspiration from freeride circles, motocross and general trends in addition to racing. The Itsy Bitsy group for little girls features pinks and blues for 2003-04. Light blue along with light silver and gray is featured for older girls, too, in the Girl's Platinum collection, with ThermaWeb insulation, a polyester dobby-oxford-weave fabric and a water-repellant finish. Kyd's Authentics has race-oriented jackets and pants.

    Rossignol Technical Outerwear (RTO): Relatively new in the junior snow sports apparel market, RTO is already very popular thanks to edgy urban looks and functional performance outerwear. The company has partnerships with legendary Paris designer Jean-Charles de Castlebajac and W.L. Gore & Associates, resulting in a unique blend of fashion and technology. For 2003-04, the overall Rossignol Technical Outerwear line includes 48 new base colors, chosen in concert with Peclairs, a leading color and design house located in Paris. Each of the four main product segments features its own palette, including special highlight colors for kids. For kids, RTO features high-tech Reps fabric, with prices parents can appreciate. The new Jr. Slalom Jacket is a technical race-oriented piece with a print-logo treatment.

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