At Blacks we like to listen to our customers and our research tells us that the outdoor community is craving a bit of technicolor in their technical gear. So, fresh for autumn/winter 2018, we are pleased to present you with the Be Bold collection. We want to disrupt the winter grey. We want to give you a brighter palette to paint your own adventure.
Outdoor clothing has been mired in monochrome for too long. We live in a vibrant world, overflowing with colour, yet we hide ourselves away in black, grey and navy like we’re ashamed to be seen. Camouflage has its place if you’re birdwatching but otherwise, why not embrace colour? Why not stand-out in the outdoors?
Our vision of a traditional mountaineer is influenced by history and a million black-and-white photographs. We picture sturdy, moustachioed men in brown leather boots, dark woollen layers and occasional tweed hats.
But even the greatest adventurers were willing to inject some colour into their mountain apparel. Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norguy may have summited Everest in woollen shirts and ‘primitive’ cotton-blend down jackets, but those jackets had a certain flair. Who would have thought that the reality behind those famous grayscale images was a bright mustard and a deep teal?
Since the introduction of modern synthetic fabrics the major outdoor brands have become more keen to promote colour in their ranges. Berghaus, for example, have become visually synonymous with the colour blue. The North Face have pushed the envelope even further; their iconic Nuptse Jacket has shouted out in deep reds, scorching yellows and rich blue versions through the years. The vibrancy continues. Montane have adopted the brightest red, blues and pinks for their 2018 Via Trail Running Series.
If there has been movement towards multicolour, why is black still the bestselling colour? The brands are making some seriously vibrant gear, but much of it isn’t finding its way out onto the hills.
Some of this may be due to our typical British reserve. The trails, hills and mountains of Europe are awash with colour whilst we stick with our earth tones. After meeting with representatives from Adidas we discovered that they sell a very different style of gear to European and British markets. European runners and athletes are hungry for a blast of colour or a quirky design. European brands like Mammut and Didriksons produce seriously colourful kit that goes down a treat in the alpine villages and fjörds but may raise eyebrows in the Peak District.
You can find the same distinction in the US. Broadly speaking, the culture of west-coast hiking accommodates brighter colours, whereas east-coast hikers tend towards blending in or “stealth-hiking.” This is the practice of hiking without disturbing the environment in any way, even visually. It takes the principle of Leave No Trace to a whole new level.
There is a lot of debate in American hiking circles as to whether dressing like a beacon increases the danger of bear attack. Some say that the bears are naturally curious and will approach anything unusual - like a bright yellow jacket, or a sky-blue tent – in much the same way that we would approach a brightly wrapped sweet.
Thankfully, we don’t have many grizzlies knocking around ready to chomp down on fashion-conscious hikers. In fact, amongst the neutral colours of the British landscape a colour that pops may well be a safety boost. Vibrant clothing will keep you visible. This can be vital if conditions change for the worse. Worst case scenario: a bright jacket, trousers, or pack will help rescue services find you more easily against the snow or in the fog.
Equally, though your Instagram posts aren’t a matter of life and death, a colourful outfit will stand out better against a natural background. If you want to inspire and impress with your outdoor snaps then colour is definitely the way to go.
If you think about all of these benefits, buying that lime green backpack or that violet jacket isn’t silly, or superficial; it’s a very sensible decision.
So why don’t you have a waterproof-coat-of-many-colours already? Well, we have to hold our hands up and say sorry, it’s partly our fault. Our range was too focused on the grey, the navy, the black (after all, it’s in the name). The Be Bold collection will redress the balance back towards the bright and the beautiful.
We also aim to redress the gender balance when it comes alternative colour schemes. We know that men enjoy a touch of flamboyance, just as we know that women aren’t satisfied with the “pink and shrink” approach as the only alternative to black. Be Bold is an equal-opportunities ticket to the whole spectrum.
We know you want it. You told us and we listened. So go grab the gear that best expresses how you feel about the outdoors. We’ll see you on the hill. Hopefully you’ll be hard to miss.