26 forum posts
Many an outdoor clothier has lost their way in pursuit of the mighty Greenback(or Loonie in this case). North Face and Patagonia are examples of two companies who altered their focus to reach the pocketbooks of suburban America. Both have been branded with the scarlet letter Y (for yuppie) because of it. Either company has really stepped up their core, technical game in recent years to win back street cred, the later having been more successful. Nevertheless, the dreaded "Patagucci" moniker will likely never be shaken and I don't think TNF will ever win back its core following.
I just received an email today announcing Arc'teryx's new spring Veilance line and I have to say that I'm a little bit disgusted. See for yourself: http://veilance.arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?EN
What started as a few urban-focused garments tossed into the Arc'teryx portfolio has now become a slew of Veblen luxury menswear that is sure to make stockbrokers and attorneys swoon.
My favorite is the plain 'Frame' t-shirt robustly priced at $165 and made with a cotton/wool blend "to offer functional luxury." The nylon "Module Pants", a hiking pant with a more chic cut will set you back $400. That hipsterish looking Monitor LT coat will sting your pocketbook at a cheeky $850. There's even what looks like a pair of hiking pants cut to fit like skinny jeans (it takes $400 to look like an Emo-loving individual who enjoys hiking).
To their credit, AT is manufacturing the Veliance line here in Vancouver. The rub is that most of their stuff used to be made here and, save for a few top range jackets, has all been shipped to the developing world. Give this line some time to pick up steam amongst portfolio managers and telecom execs and I'm sure AT will promptly break ground on a factory in Laos, complete with a few solar panels and a modest fund earmarked to teach their laborers to read.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with earning a profit. Arc'teryx has stridently defended their foreign-made goods as being just as well-made and as highly quality controlled as (what remains of) their Canadian goods. From what I've seen and heard, this seems to be true. The problem, however, is that companies that dip their toes into the mainstream almost inevitably take the complete plunge. There are too many zeros on the cheques to say no. All is well and good until quality lags, core consumers are alienated, and the vision that drove them to success is obscured or lost.
However much capital this will inject into AT's coffers it will do equal diminish the company's reputation for hard-core, outdoor legitimacy. Can they make luxury menswear and continue to produce the best mountaineering jackets on the market? Sure. But you are trekking on slippery scree once you try to make your brand as popular in Whistler Village as it is with backcountry heli-guides and Antarctic mountaineers.
I've been trying to coin "Armani'teryx" for a while now as I watch this all-too-familiar story unfold...expect the moniker to catch.