Urbanites are dropping hundreds of dollars on hiking clothes - and it's fueling explosive success for Patagonia and The North Face


Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has jumped on the fleece trend.

  • The "urban hiker" style is in vogue, according to fashion search platform Lyst.
  • Because of this, brands such as The North Face and Patagonia have experienced explosive success.
  • Fashion brands such as Zara, Madewell, Outdoor Voices, and Urban Outfitters have also jumped on the bandwagon, creating their own takes on the urban hiker style.

It's not your imagination - fleeces and high-performance jackets are everywhere right now. And according to fashion search platform Lyst, it's because the "urban hiker" style is in vogue.

Earlier this month, Lyst released its latest ranking of fashion's "hottest brands and products." The North Face and Patagonia came in second and third place, respectively, on the menswear list, beating out Versace, Fendi, and Givenchy. The two items featured were The North Face's Nuptse puffer jacket and Patagonia's Retro-X fleece.Advertisement

Patagonia and The North Face have experienced explosive success in recent years, as these brands sit at the intersection of outerwear, normcore, and streetwear. The latter two are prominent trends in fashion at the moment.

Part of Patagonia's success has stemmed from its marketing itself as being anti-consumerist and encouraging customers to only buy products that last.

"We can't control whether or not our brand is deemed cool or uncool, and we really don't care," Mark Little, Patagonia's director of men's sportswear and surf apparel, told GQ in 2017.

A spokesperson for Patagonia recently told Business Insider that sales have quadrupled in the past 10 years, but wouldn't divulge exact figures because it's a private company. According to The Guardian, the company had sales of $800 million in 2016, which was twice as much as in 2010.

Meanwhile, The North Face, which is owned by VF Corp., parent company of Lee, Wrangler, and Vans, has transitioned from being seen a purely practical brand to one that makes a fashion statement. "Their mainline products are seemingly so unassuming, so banal, so practical that each owner or subculture have been able to project their own identity onto those three simple curved lines and sans-serif text," the British culture magazine Dazed wrote in 2016.Advertisement

In its most recent quarterly results, The North Face's revenue in the US grew by 15% for the quarter and 8% for the first nine months of 2018 on a constant currency basis.

Read more: Millennials have a new shopping habit that could spell trouble for Forever 21 and H&M

As the runway has started to take notice of the urban hiker trend and shoppers have dropped hundreds of dollars on high-end fleeces, so the mainstream has begun to chime in, too. Advertisement

Fashion brands such as Zara, Madewell, Outdoor Voices, and Urban Outfitters have all jumped on the bandwagon and created their own versions of this outdoor getup, specifically the fleece.

Experts say that this trend has no signs of slowing down in 2019 and is permeating other categories.

Dan Bisson, editor of accessories and footwear at WGSN, recently told Who What Wear that "dad sneakers" - arguably the most questionable trend of 2018 - are next in line.

"I believe that the rise in outdoor hiking trends will introduce the trail sneaker as the next 'must-have' sneaker for 2019," he said. "This will replace some of the thick-soled designs, appealing to not only the city goers but those wanting to explore country landscapes."

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