In The Market

Outdoor Industry Stories to Watch

Arc’teryx is buying back used jackets from consumers.

Peak Potential: Arc’teryx is Launching a Recommerce Program

Vancouver-based outdoor brand Arc’teryx, known for its technical, performance apparel and gear, is launching a recommerce program called Rock Solid Used Gear. Harkening back to the company’s original name when it was founded over 30 years ago, Rock Solid Used Gear is a repurposing hub designed to keep products in service as long as possible and to lighten the company’s environmental footprint.

As part of the program, Arc’teryx will buy back used gear in good condition, clean and repair products with plenty of life left in them and resell the items at a lower cost. The prolonged lifecycle allows customers to access supremely technical gear for less while also minimizing the brand’s environmental footprint.

“We are framing sustainability as a design problem,” says Arc’teryx GM and president Jon Hoerauf. “Strictly focusing on building leading gear is no longer an option for us — we must apply the same design ethos to solving problems of broader social and environmental relevance.”

Customers can bring used gear into local Arc’teryx stores or use an online mail-in portal to start the trade in process. The gear will then be assessed and gear that is deemed as lightly worn to excellent condition, with the inner label still attached, will be eligible to receive a gift card of 20 percent of the product’s original retail price. Any items that cannot be resold, but are still functional, will be donated to organizations with outdoor programs that need gear. The brand is exploring circular solutions such as repurposing and upcycling for items that have reached the end of their useful life and cannot be repaired to a functional state.

The North Face Looks to the Future(light)

Activist Futurelight Low, a Spring 2020 style from The North Face.

This fall, The North Face will launch its proprietary nanospun Futurelight waterproof breathable membrane technology in pinnacle apparel products. The launch marks the beginning of a new era for the brand. (It also marks the end of its longtime partnership with Gore-tex.) For Spring ’20, The North Face is bringing the same technology into footwear.

Created by spraying a polyurethane solution through nano-scale nozzles to create a film, the Futurelight membrane is dense enough to stop water penetrating — but porous enough to let air molecules through. It’s also customizable: Tweaks to the process can dial up or down the permeability and porosity to suit different performance or weight needs. The process gives the materials some distinct advantages, allowing the film to function when applied to stretch fabrics, unlike more traditional membranes, for better fit with a bootie construction. It also lets the company improve the sustainability. Futurelight is PFC free, and the facing and backing fabrics the company uses to create it are made from 100 percent recycled fabrics. Styles showcasing the technology include the performance Ultra Traction Futurelight and the Fastpack IV boots; it will also be a critical feature of trail styles like the Activist Futurelight boot for men and women, designed for a sneaker-like feel on the trail and style off it, which is available in mid ($145) and low ($135) heights for spring.

Hemp Is Hot Right Now

Loyak Hemp footwear style from Astral.

When it comes to attention-getting trends, hemp was a hot talking point at this past June’s Outdoor Retail Summer Market trade show in Denver. Hemp is being used as a fiber in everything from socks and pants to footwear and bags.

One of the biggest misconceptions of hemp is that it is stiff and rough. But hemp is available in several weights and helps wearers of garments stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Described as “the strongest natural fabric,” it has durability and longevity. Hemp is enhanced with wash and has a high resistance to UV rays, so it can retain dyes well. Being antibacterial, it is fitting for performance and athletic endeavors.

While hemp offers plenty of opportunities for manufacturers, textile experts note that there is currently no option to process hemp domestically – specifically, textile grade hemp fiber. Once this essential step is developed, execs say, the viability of a sustainable U.S. based hemp supply chain comes into focus. “Ultimately this will result in a win for farmers, a win for the environment and win for outdoor community and consumers,” says David Petri, founder, Cynosura Consulting.

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