Coming from a winter sports background where outwear styles and textiles continue to move in more technical”, waterproof directions, it was quite refreshing to come across a growing subculture in winter fashion that’s completely Lo-Fi and Low-Tech as seen for example with the comeback of Marlene pants and revival of Woolrich Woolen Mills from various designers.
This movement comes from many angles, including the upper-street fashion evolution that has been moving away from the all-over print, or at least a more toned-down version, and moving clean. You can see this in new collections for Fall/Winter 2008-09 from leaders such as 10 Deep , Crooks & Castles, Lemar & Dauley, Grn Apple Tree, and others. An extension of this in winter apparel is the return to low-tech basics that have been recontextualized from its utilitarian roots (in keeping warm) into a higher-end style. Examples of this include the revival of the classic brand Woolrich in their collection for winter 2008 with down jackets for women, knitted hats, tailored wool pants that appeal to an androgynous look, and of course, low-tech, but finely tailored jackets for men.
Woolrich is among the leaders in this new movement of low-tech outerwear with gathered blazers, the return of the knitted cardigan, and gathered waistcoat jackets. On this tip however from the street fashion perspective include brands such as Idol Radec and their high-end tartan plaid shirts, Alphanumeric and their re-classified buffalo plaids. Within this movement, attention to textures and textiles are of vital importance such as knits, re-cut cardigans, knitted beanies, and tartan blouses.
Interestingly, within the movement of manufacturers and designers to go green, there has also been a growing debate in the outdoor industry as to just how heavy the carbon footprint actually is of say, creating a high-tech, Gore-Tex jacket. While waterproof and durable, most outerwear in skiing and snowboarding, for example, are not recyclable -and as the outdoor industry green experts have figured out, not at all sustainable in terms of a cradle-to-cradle aesthetic. Which also contributes to the move towards low-tech. Just as outwear continues to move more high-tech, including electronic features with avalanche transceivers, iPod attachments, and cell phone chargers, on the flipside is the growing low-tech movement -which ironically isn’t found in the mountains on outdoor enthusiasts, but on urban fashionistas looking for the latest in refreshingly new, yet retro-borrowed street styles.