High Fashion: Yama Girls Bring Style to the Mountains


An ensemble from Yuri Yosumi's Love Trek line for Aigle.

Down mountain skirts from Marmot and Columbia. Tweed parkas. Designer gaiters. Teva stilettos.

Today we take a brief detour from function to look at the form and fashion of outdoor apparel.

First stop, Japan's trendy Yama Girls. Increasing numbers of yama (mountain) girls trek peaks like Mount Fuji in colorful technical skirts made from fleece, down, or nylon, with leggings and designer trekking boots. And outdoor brands are meeting the demand.

Personally, I love running in a skirt. It's more comfortable than shorts, and the bonus is that it looks better. So hiking in one seems natural, provided it's functional and appropriate for the conditions (meaning, you won't find me skiing or climbing in a down skirt, no matter how cute).

But, while the hiking and running skirt trend continues to grow in the States, you need to head to Japan for true yama girl fashion. There, companies like The North Face, Columbia, and Marmot offer bright, trendy pieces you won't find elsewhere. 

Designer Yuri Yosumi is a pioneer of the outdoor chic trend. Her Love Trek line for Aigle includes mini skirts, dresses, and gaiters. According to Bloomberg.com, she also works with Berghaus and now Marmot.

There's even a magazine for yama girls, Randonnée. (Alas, I cannot read Japanese.)

Yama guys should not feel left out. In Japan, you can buy Down Shorts, Harris Tweed parkas and vests, and bright Klettersack packs from The North Face. And back in North America, more rugged menswear is back in fashion, perhaps thanks to the mountainsexual.


The Teva Stiletto. Don't try this on (or off) the trail.

Love it or hate it, yama girl gear keeps an eye on function and has a purpose. The Teva Stilletto is something else.

If you've seen them and are still wondering, yes, they're for real. The four-inch heels (with grip-sole construction) are a collaboration between Teva and NY-based Grey Ant.

The fashion designer approached Teva with the concept in 2008. Teva thought it would be fun and provided the necessary materials based off their Hurricane sandal, Teva PR rep Ian Anderson told me.

"I don't think anyone thought they would sell a lot (or any) of these, but there's been a bunch of buzz about them," said Anderson.

For $330, you can buy a pair from New High (M)art in either Worlds Unite (black and white with a velcro closure) or Natural (tan with a buckle closure). I suggest the classic velcro.

“This is a stiletto for spring or fall, just wear socks,” said Grey Ant designer and owner Grant Krajecki in a press release. Be forewarned, they're "not recommended for actual hiking, gardening, mountain climbing, or Phish concerts," according to the product description.

Now, since the shoes came out in 2009, does that make them so last year?

Stiletto Tevas aside, wear what you like as long as it works, whether that's a Goodwill fleece or a fashionable mountain skirt. Whatever gets you up (and back down) the mountain, you can call "high fashion."

Also, read:


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Comments

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts
December 6, 2010 at 1:01 p.m. (EST)

Down shorts for guys?  Talk about gamey...

Imaging trekking five days into the back country, when some hot trad girl comes waltzing by, sporting a pair of Nepalese inspired print leggings, held up by spectra gaiters, topped by an ultra light corset. 

Hey, I'm a guy what would you expect?!

Ed

denis daly
87 reviewer rep
1,061 forum posts
December 6, 2010 at 6:03 p.m. (EST)

I truly thought the days of " Miami Vice" were over. I don't think this will really become popular here do to the color fashion sense. The colors just jump right out and blind you. I really think it's a hit there not here.

Cleric
73 reviewer rep
301 forum posts
December 6, 2010 at 9:30 p.m. (EST)

Easier for S&R teams to find?  :)

If it is functional and comfortable, why would anyone argue it? I can see how one would make an argument about the functionality of those sandal heels...

The bright colors combined with earthy wear reminds me of what I have seen of hippie-wear in the 60's (note... I was not there...).  Interesting that this goes along those lines, but is clearly "designer" and "trendy"... which the hippies strove strongly not to be.

alan
0 reviewer rep
1,075 forum posts
December 6, 2010 at 10:25 p.m. (EST)

Why not?  Some firms, Smartwool, Icebreaker and Patagonia come to mind, make some garments which are practical and look great on women.  They also make nice Christmas gifts:)

denis daly
87 reviewer rep
1,061 forum posts
December 6, 2010 at 11:27 p.m. (EST)

Yes they make items that are atractive to women and on women.  But these colors say. " Hey I am a walking bill board for the 80's.  I could see if that was truly their intent for S&R but I think they need to reavaluate the color issue.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
588 reviewer rep
3,051 forum posts
December 7, 2010 at 6:50 a.m. (EST)

I think, if it works and it looks good, go for it. Why not? Fashion is all in the eye of the beholder anyway. You might as well get double duty out of the stuff you buy. And none of us will agree on what looks good or not anyway.

While these outfits are a bit over the top and a color overload for me, I think it can be nice to see some color on occasion. It's easy to end up with a lot of boring black and neutrals in your outdoor wear, so a little bit of color can be fun. (I admit I don't want to see 100 people hiking toward me in neon though.)

Since I like running skirts, I'd like to find a good hiking skirt too, but just haven't seen one I want to try yet.

Denis, my initial thought was the same as yours: that won't happen here.

But, my second thought was: oh, wait, it's already starting. I saw a lot of those '80s colors nearly a year ago at Outdoor Retailer. So, while you may not see any yama girls on the trail (sorry), you may see brighter packs, jackets, and the like on some people hiking, skiing, etc.

I also think there are women here who'd like some of these clothes, though maybe not to wear all at once. More like adding a colorful skirt, jacket, or hat.

I'm not so sure about the corset idea though, Ed. Sounds chaffing with a pack.

jnetcat5
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
December 7, 2010 at 12:16 p.m. (EST)

Those Teva stilettos are just fantastic. However, I wonder if they come with a warning label that says: Do not actually try to hike in these! 

denis daly
87 reviewer rep
1,061 forum posts
December 7, 2010 at 12:54 p.m. (EST)

Alicia- I think the idea of women mixing the different items to suit there fashion sense is a good idea. Just not the full blown out version. The articles attached also made a great point for Japan. Its inspired a newer generation to take to the outdoors. General age range 20-late thirties. Now if that would were to happen here wouldnt that be grand:) 

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
588 reviewer rep
3,051 forum posts
December 7, 2010 at 1:03 p.m. (EST)

Those Teva stilettos are just fantastic. However, I wonder if they come with a warning label that says: Do not actually try to hike in these! 

They've got one on the product buying page:

*Not recommended for actual hiking, gardening, mountain climbing, or Phish concerts :)

From http://www.newhighmart.com/shop/item/938/Grey-Ant-x-Teva-Stiletto/

I guess that's in case you're easily fooled by these realistic photos of models wearing them.
greyantxteva-1.jpg


greyantxteva-3.jpg

Thanks, Denis. Trends will come and go, but maybe more young women will get outside due to this one. And if some discover a true appreciation of the outdoors, then that can be a positive.

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts
December 8, 2010 at 10:09 a.m. (EST)

I'm not so sure about the corset idea though, Ed. Sounds chaffing with a pack.

If she is sporting a pair of those vibram stilettos while schlepping that pack, I am pretty sure comfort is not the consideration driving her apparel selection:) Anyway I usually carried the majority of my trad girl's pack weight, back in the day, if for no other reason than to free her up so she could focus on looking good!

Ed

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
588 reviewer rep
3,051 forum posts
December 8, 2010 at 12:44 p.m. (EST)

If she is sporting a pair of those vibram stilettos while schlepping that pack, I am pretty sure comfort is not the consideration driving her apparel selection:)

Silly me. I forgot I started all of this as a discussion of style, not function.

You're quite right.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
588 reviewer rep
3,051 forum posts
December 11, 2010 at 9:54 a.m. (EST)

Well, I stand corrected on skiing in a skirt.

I saw a female tele skier in a technical skirt with pants/leggings in the lift line at Stowe yesterday (not the warmest ski day either). I admit, I was intrigued. She looked good.

Today, I saw that Montbell has a synthetic Thermawrap wrap skirt. It comes in colors even, besides black. I would wear this around town.


c_1106388_sebl.jpg

 

denis daly
87 reviewer rep
1,061 forum posts
December 11, 2010 at 2:08 p.m. (EST)

I guess you were Right Alicia it did make it over here and we will see more of those fashions. But you should do a review to see how they function as well as how many colors and do a suvey. That would trully show how popular they will become in a market here.

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