Women are increasingly taking jobs in the trades and other non-traditional careers. The demand for talented and skilled individuals in the plumbing, HVAC, and electric industries’ for example is creating opportunities for women to enter and advance in these fields. With these expanding opportunities came the need for clothing tailored to the needs of women. As with so many products in the outdoor industry, for years, women would have to figure out how to adjust clothing, backpacks, poles, etc. made for men to their bodies. Just as Deuter, USA has done for women in designing backpacks tailored to the ergonomics of women, Dovetail Workwear has designed work clothing specifically tailored to the needs and demands of women working in the outdoors. My partner, Casey LeBrun caught up with Molly Smithson and Kate Day of Dovetail at the 2019 OR/Snow Show.
Women’s outdoor clothing is getting more functional. In a 2018 article in Outside Online,
"The uniform-and-workwear industry is currently worth $30 billion and is projected to reach $48 billion by 2022. That kind of stable growth is an anomaly in the apparel sphere, where e-commerce has upended traditional retail sales and styles change with each season. A rise in the number of women in industrial occupations is a key part of the growth, according to recent market research, but blue-collar laborers aren’t the only ones driving it."
Beside Dovetail Workwear, traditional brands in this space have begun to recognize the need and market opportunity. Brands like Carhartt, Dickies, Patagonia, and Duluth Trading Company have created specialized outdoor clothing lines for women.
Founders Kate, Kyle, Sarah
Success story e-Commerce
Two of Dovetail Workwear's founders (Kate and Kyle Marie) followed their gardening passion and launched Moxie and Moss Landscape Design. Digging in the wet, Pacific NW soil was uncomfortable, their everyday jeans weren't up to the task, and workwear marketed to women was either ill-fitting and tailored for men's bodies or offered stereotypical colors and patterns. Enter their client (Sara) who happened to be an apparel industry expert. The three decided to take things into their own hands, designing and producing Dovetail's Maven Slim to fill the fit, function and durability gap in women's workwear.
The growth in this segment is explosive. In an interview with Carhartt's Vice President of Product Development, Deb Ferraro stated, " it took a few years to nail its women’s line, but the branch is now the company’s fastest-growing business unit with its revenue increasing by a double-digit percentage from 2017 to 2018." Managing product development, inventory, and the e-Commerce space is a challenge for all of these providers.
Besides Dovetail Workwear, another specialty focused manufacturer is Red Ants Pants. Their founder, Sarah Calhoun, like the founders of Dovetail, took her real-life experience as a former trail-crew worker and Outward Bound instructor from which to draw insight, inspiration, and experience in designing functional, attractive, and durable workwear for women.
Suzanne Blecher from Outdoor Insights summed up a number of overall trends affecting outdoor apparel. These trends are being found not only in specialty outdoor wear like that produced by Dovetail Workwear, but it is also found across all types of outdoor apparel. They are:
- Performance with style
- Increased temperature control within garments
- Modern nostalgia
- Emphasis on sustainability throughout the production and delivery process
You can follow Dovetail Workwear at #dovetailworkwear, @dovetailworkwear, Facebook and on Pinterest. To follow the other brands mentioned, go to @RedAntsPants @DuluthTradingCo @Carhartt @Dickies @patagonia @DeuterUSA.
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