The best women's gear news and reviews
Yes, we’re sad to go (more on that in a bit), but we also have a great final send, with brands talking about the wizardry behind color choices and a review of a swimsuit that actually stays put—even while cliff jumping.
Before all that, an important note from everyone behind Dawn Patrol: This issue will be our last. We’ve loved this experiment and had a blast diving deep into the women’s gear industry, but ultimately, we’ve listened to your feedback that these stories belong on our site and not in a newsletter. We’re giving a refund to everyone who’s paid for an annual subscription. (You’ll get your money back for the unsent issues in the next five days.) Thank you for reading with us and for the flood of positive (and critical) notes you’ve sent our way. We are going to continue asking tough questions about the apparel and products we rely on when we play outside, but instead of publishing that content in Dawn Patrol, you can find it right in our women’s gear column and throughout the Gear channel. Our hope is that by moving our energy and focus, we can expand our reader base and tell these important stories to a wider audience.
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How colors get trendy
Ever wonder why certain colors take hold in the outdoor world, showing up on packs, running shoes, ski gear, and more across brands, sports, and years? There’s a reason for that: trend forecasting.
By Abigail Barronian
GIF courtesy of Giphy
Color design is a huge part of any brands’ products and marketing, and those in similar spaces tend to choose similar patterns. We talked to a couple brands to figure out why that is.
“Historically, the outdoor industry has been known for certain colors—teal, rusty orange, olive, magenta. The industry as a whole is kind of stuck in that space,” says Jana Hunt, the global color design director for The North Face.
Though each company has its own process when it comes to determining product colors, most start with a color book. Pantone, for example, might be the best-known arbiter of color—putting out comprehensive color systems and trend reports each year.
“That’s why you see that redundancy, why everyone’s showing up with the same colors. We look at those trend services, but sometimes when we see a bunch of brands predicting the same color, that’s actually a reason to avoid it,” Hunt says.
When you see two outerwear brands offer a ski kit with, say, a blue jacket and yellow pants, chances are low that they’re intentionally knocking each other off. Because the run time for product design is so long—products are designed up to two years before they hit the market—chances are both brands looked to the same trend forecasting.
Far more goes into color design, though, than just an awareness of trends. Take Ortovox, for example: “Our approach to color is, above all, safety. This is why we use strong, vivid colors. It has to do with visibility in the mountains” says Thomas Moe, chief designer at Ortovox. “At the same time, colors reflect a certain mood. Our passion for the great outdoors—and that we do what we love—is reflected in our color palette. It’s vivid and full of energy.”
The color-mood equation goes both ways. Research supports the idea that bright, happy colors can positively affect our mental well-being. This influences design at The North Face’s as well.
“We work with our innovations team on color science and human perception,” Hunt says. For a tent-bound mountaineer, bright colors let in more light and can help minimize feelings of depression and claustrophobia, she says.
Moe cites the great outdoors—the colors of the mountains, sky, glaciers, wildflowers, and streams—as Ortovox’s primary source of inspiration for color choice beyond practical considerations. Heritage brands like The North Face also look outward for inspiration, but they have a deep product archive and established image to pull from as well.
“We have an iconic color palette. Some of that aesthetic started from really humble beginnings. Our mountain jacket, which has a primary color blocked with black, was designed because of a fabric minimum. It yielded a really iconic look for the brand, and we really own that look. We want to preserve and celebrate it,” Hunt says. “There’s a lot of recognizable brand identity around color. It’s such a powerful tool.”
The look-good, feel-good swimsuit we love
A mini ode to a brand making stay-put, sexy bikinis
By Brigid Mander
Photo courtesy of Pualani
In 1951, Italo Calvino wrote “The Adventure of a Bather,” a short story in which Isotta Barbarino happily goes swimming in her brand-new bikini, until the bottom slips off and is lost in the sea. Signora Barbarino spends the rest of the day clinging to an offshore buoy, ashamed and unable to return to the beach. As the sun sets, some kind fishermen clue in and bring her a skirt, but not before Calvino exquisitely parlays her plight into a tale of loneliness among others and existential unease.
Seven decades later, the loss of bikini parts would hopefully result only in momentary discomfort, but still, who needs that? Things may never be perfect, but it’s too bad Isotta didn’t have a Pualani bikini (from $165) to wear. I ordered a cute one in red. It was flattering and fit right, so I was happy. Only later did I realize what a gem I had. My boyfriend and I went peak bagging and stopped at an alpine lake still tinged with snowbanks. We leaped into the blue water from a 20-foot cliff. When jumping here in the past, my bikinis have always come partly off upon impact, a price I was willing to pay for the scenic views and mountain swim—but I was never a fan of the extra seconds I spent repositioning my suits before exiting the frigid water.
It wasn’t until I jumped off the cliff that I realized how glorious the stay-put bikini really is. We jumped in again and again, with nary a readjustment. My Pualani bikini is now my go-to. Kudos to the surfer’s under-the-radar company, making quality suits for other female athletes.