When you are happily sat outside in the sunshine at Berlin Fashion Week eating your lunch in the second week of January your instincts tell you this winter has been exceptionally mild. Last month the global temperature was warmer than any previous January on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Temperatures in Europe were 0.2C higher than the previous warmest January for the continent – recorded in 2007, and it has been 3.1C warmer than the average January in the period 1981-2010.
Norway recorded its hottest January day since records began, with a reading of 19C – more than 25C above the monthly average – measured in the village of Sunndalsora, which is around 250 miles north of Oslo. Temperatures were also much above average over most of the USA and Canada.
Left - Nobis
If you are a coat brand, and, in particular arctic parkas, this is bad news. The arctic parka market has seen huge expansion over the past few years and brands piling in on the success of brands such as Moncler and Canada Goose. The last few years’ winter weather has helped with the 'Beast from the East' and America’s extremely cold polar vortex making these type of coats feel like an essential. These businesses have grown big selling £1000 coats in the 100,000s, but things have become more competitive - possibly unsustainable? - and if the weather is mild consumers will forgo an expensive purchase until they really need it. So how has the mild weather been affecting this important seasonal market?
Martin Brooks, Co-Founder & CEO, Shackleton, says,”Yes, the mild winter has affected sales. Last year, we had a very cold March, by that time many brands were out of stock.
“It’s nuts that most outerwear brands go on sale from Black Friday - months before it gets cold. It's like putting swim gear on sale in May.” he says. “North America has been strong for Shackleton, especially Chicago where it's been 'Chiberia' (25 below) a few times this year.”
Ian Holdcroft, COO & Co-Founder, Shackleton, adds “We’re on target to double our revenue to financial year ending end of March. We are a small business but growing rapidly.
“Interestingly our sales of high ticket items (the most expensive jackets) have increased, we suspect in the main (& talking to our customers has reinforced this), that they see our product as investment and less affected by near term weather. They also like that we’re now non fur and make in UK and Europe. Admittedly we do see spikes in orders when the temperature drops below 7 degrees.” he says.
Robin Yates, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Nobis says, “Experiencing winter arrive later, season after season, the traditional buying cycle of the consumer has become less predictable. Weather trends, however, see winter conditions accelerating in January and February, and sales in our industry are beginning to reflect this shift from a timeline perspective.
“At Nobis, our collections are built and designed for global movement and unpredictable weather. Relevant in mild and inclement weather scenarios, our products offer functionality across a broad range of seasonality.” he says.
Right - Shackleton
Are these brands changing their product mix to be less reliant on classic fur hooded parka?
“It's rained every week in the UK from 1st October to now. Not many people have decent rainware in their closet... this is a huge opportunity to bust a space between outdoor shell jackets (urgh) and fusty raincoats.” says Brooks.
“Our best seller (in outerwear) this winter has been our pilot jacket which is shorter than a traditional parka.” says Holdcroft. “We designed this with helicopter pilots operating in the Alps so the jacket has a lot of features (such as full vent zips up the side) which make it much more flexible in terms of temperature, heat regulation and usability. There has also been an increase in demand for the lighter weight jackets and layering pieces - the Fortuna gilet has proved very popular.
“The last few winters have experienced colder weather towards the end of the season in Feb and March. However this is when consumers are used to seeing sales of winter ranges and retailers stocking up for Spring Summer. We are planning lighter weight outerwear pieces and will be introducing rain/wet weather into the range for next Autumn Winter. We are definitely planning for a general warming of the climate (& milder, wetter northern hemisphere winters) but there will always be somewhere cold on the planet.” says Holdcroft.
“Mid to lighter weight product ranges are seeing an increase in traction due to the versatility and functional aspect.” says Yates. “Dependent on the time of the season, these transitional pieces can be worn as a base layer or a final outer layer.” he says.
Is the arctic parka market saturated and over supplied and have brands that have become big on the back of this cold weather staple got an unsustainable business model?
“Each brand caters to very different audiences – we believe and invest in the product experience.” says Yates. “We bring our consumers greater quality, function, style and value from their Nobis branded jacket and continue to provide them with access to information previously clouded in industry nomenclature. Thus, allowing the consumer to truly make an informed outerwear purchase decision, regardless of the brand they end up selecting.”
Left - Nobis
“There are a lot of brands now making parkas and the parka has become a category in it’s own right. We need to be different and innovative though to stand out.” says Holdcroft. “Our Endurance parka sells very well because it’s so light and packable and is the best performer on the market from a weight to warmth ratio perspective. It’s much easier to travel with than heavier weight parkas from other brands. So, we find people are buying into the flexibility of the jacket and the performance without compromising style. That being said, as we extend the range we will be introducing more and more products that are not parkas.” he says. “We won’t be able to build an international brand on the parka,”.
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Moncler Genius is, well, genius. Eight small designer collaborations providing different high fashion, cold weather options for even the fussiest of fashion wanker. What's not to like?
Collection number 5 is by British designer Craig Green who has put his quilted spin on Moncler's quilting. This feels modern, clean and fresh in a market tired of the typical arctic type parkas with fur hoods. I know the daffodils are already out and we think we’ve escaped with a mild winter, so if you don’t wear this this year, then you can always park it and bring it out at the first sign of cold weather at the end of the year.
Left & Below - Moncler Genius - 5 Moncler Craig Green Coolidge Colour-Block Quilted Shell Hooded Down Jacket - £1,260 from MRPORTER
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In a post-Brexit world we’re going to have to make more than leather shoes and Scottish cashmere sweaters. UK Plc needs to turn our world class creativity into a German style industry: manufacturing in volume and of the highest quality.
From small acorns mighty English oaks grow, so, when I heard The Shackleton Company was manufacturing their parkas in the UK, I wanted to find out more and see what we are paying for. The majority of the world's down parkas are made in Italy, France, Canada or China, so a UK-made is rather special. I’ve dissected their new “Discovery Jacket” to show you all the different components and design details, so when the temperature drops we can keep the Union Flag flying high!
Entirely handmade in Cheshire. The majority of the materials are made in Britain with the odd exception, i.e. zips and zip pullers. The outer shell is Ventile, designed in the UK. The densely woven, 100% cotton uses the world's finest, long staple fibre. Ventile is not coated or laminated and the combination of the dense weave and swelling properties of the fibres, when wet, provides excellent weatherproofing. It's an entirely natural product - windproof, breathable, durable and quiet.
Filled with 100% of the finest, pure European goose down, it provides an unsurpassed warmth to weight ratio. It is a by-product of the food industry, in fact, a waste product, if not used for insulation. The highest quality of down, which The Shackleton Company uses, comes from the oldest, free-range birds. Each individual pocket of down is hand filled & stitched. No machinery is used.
The adjustable hood design enables the wearer to create a wrap-around tunnel to protect against extreme cold. The coyote fur hood trim is removable. Tested in Antarctica to minus 20 Degrees centigrade, the coyote is shot as part of a cull program to control popuations in Alaska. The Shackleton Company do not use any farmed or trapped coyote.
Large rubber zip pullers are designed with pimples on the reverse for ease of use with cold hands or whilst wearing gloves.
Four outer pockets - two chest (zipped) and two fleece-lined, hand-warmer pockets have press stud fastenings for quick access. Four large internal, zipped pockets - two close to body core for extra warmth for storing phone & batteries in extreme cold environments. Internal waist draw cord for a tighter fit - minimising cold air flow, providing extra insulation. Lower draw cord for a tighter fit and extra protection in stormy conditions.
Extendable storm wrist cuffs.
Internal patch - “I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize”. Poet, Robert Browning, quote, engraved on Shackleton’s gravestone in South Georgia.
Left & Above - The Shackleton Company - Discovery Jacket - £1575
The relationship with your winter coat is a long - okay, well, a good few months, - and close one. Your sartorial significant other, choosing and committing to a style isn’t something to be taken lightly. So, lucky then, Superdry has a Tinder-like amount of choice, this season.
From lightweight bombers to full on “Everest” parkas, Superdry has the full range of jackets to suit every situation and climate.
Left - Superdry - Sport Power Down Hooded Jacket - £114.99
Traditional denim jackets have been given a modern twist with Superdry varsity badges, and “Sherpa” linings. For something more formal, they have a smart double breasted wool coat, while “Rookie” styles have the addition of military-style fastenings and adjusters, plus practical pockets, to add functionality. With offerings across a palette including “duty green" and “bullet grey”, the fleece-lined styles and detachable faux-fur trimmed hoods will ensure they keep you warm.
Right - Superdry - Limited Edition Flight Bomber Jacket - £99.99
Parkas, from heavy duty to cocoon puffa, camo print to glacier, will cope with the most intense of winter extremities, plus the addition of a luxury, high performance premium down option for the very first time.
Superdry’s signature wind-cheater jackets have been rebranded for AW17. Options include totally fleece-lined arctic styles, colour pop zip jackets with triple layer fastenings and microfibre wind-bombers with faux-fur detailing. These essential and easy-to-wear outdoor jackets come in a rainbow of colours to fit your personal style.
It's now time to make your outerwear mind-up. Decisions, decisions!
See the full collection here https://www.superdry.com/mens/jackets
Left - Superdry - Faux Fur Trimmed Everest Coat - £129.99
Right - Superdry - Remastered Rogue Trenchcoat - £124.99
*Sponsored by Superdry
We’ve all fallen in love with arctic parkas over the last few years and their popularity sees no sign of waning especially when the temperatures really drop. I wanted to introduce ParaJumpers, an American sportswear brand based in the Italian province of Treviso.
Left - Parajumpers - Harris - £942
A meeting with a serving member of the 210th Rescue Squadron in a bar in Anchorage, Alaska provided inspiration for designer Massimo Rossetti to create Parajumpers.
The men of the 210th Rescue Squadron are highly trained for extreme rescues and recoveries in the wildest, most remote and hostile corner of the globe. They are the PJs or Parajumpers. They are better trained than any other military corps.
The result is an extremely innovative outerwear collection, designed to be functional with highly technological components.
Left - Parajumpers Logo
The jackets are made of hardwearing nylon and come with a removable feather-padded lining and a fur-trimmed hood. The collar fastens with a hook used in parachuting. On the front is a large, zippable multi-cargo pocket containing a further three pockets designed for carrying accessories, such as iPods, GPS devices, mobile phones, etc.
The inspiration behind this season's AW15 collection comes from various sources: the extreme, cold landscapes of Canada and Alaska, traditional English woollen garments and Japanese metallic and technological trends.
Left - Parajumpers - Musher - £1158
The Parajumpers motto is “that others may live”.