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September 7, 2011

My Favorite Sportswear Companies

by Anne Paddock
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Most women talk about their favorite designers but I prefer to talk about my favorite sportswear companies and where I can find comfortable good-looking clothes that can be worn for both sports and day wear. No baggy sweatpants and tee shirts ; instead tailored pants, shirts, and jackets that allow you to move freely and also look great.

If I had my choice, I would wear sports clothes:  tight black sport leggings, a cotton shirt (Splendid or Three Dot), a fleece jacket and a waterproof/windproof jacket every day of the week instead of five out of seven days. Everyone has their uniform and that’s mine. I can run, cycle, kayak, snow shoe, do the laundry, walk the dog, give the animals a bath, cook a meal, grocery shop, read, write, and travel in these clothes while being comfortable and fashionable.

There are three companies that do an exceptional job in this market:
  1. Norrona
  2. Mammut
  3. Peak Performance

These companies don’t put out a look book but they should because their clothing would look great on a runway and on the street.

Norrona

When I was living in Switzerland, I went skiing with a friend one day and she had on this amazing pink jacket with a neon yellow/green zipper – sounds nauseating, right.  But, it wasn’t…the color was a vivid pink with a jolt of brightness that my expert skier friend wore with confidence. No one would call her a country club skier as she telemarked down a black diamond slope in that jacket making all the other Bogner fur clad skiers look like they belonged in ski school. Made of gore-tex materials, Norrona winter jackets keep the cold, wind, rain, and snow out. The jackets for other seasons can be layered and are designed to keep you warm, dry and looking good also.

 
5475_10151457037353880_237098119_nNorrona is my favorite sportswear company as they combine fashion with quality and craftsmanship. Their products are minimalistic with the focus on design – not decoration.

norrona-storo-1-948Not a touch of silver, gold, bronze, fur, or faux ski resort patches are attached to their jackets or pants. This is a company serious about function, fit, and fashion.  Norrona makes jackets in bright colors (baby blue or vivid greens with yellow zippers, purple with pink zippers, bright yellows and pinks with green stitching) so that all the different types of jackets can be layered and worn together.

31545_10151252159693880_364807885_nThe Norrona color palette is similar to the bold colors of the Lily Pulitzer line – but the quality is so much better.  For guys, Norrona offers bright blues, blacks, greens, fire reds and more. I bought my husband a bright blue down jacket this past winter and he’s a head turner with that jacket on.

 

425023_10150634369943880_86786683_nNorrona was started by Jorgen Jorgensen, a Norwegian outdoor enthusiast who started making cotton clothing, canvas backpacks, and leather straps in 1929.  Four generations later and still owned and managed by the same family, Norrona has expanded into all types of clothing for the outdoor sports enthusiast with the emphasis on function and fashion.

534605_10151198291058880_2001099127_nThe company is based out of Oslo, Norway and is well-distributed throughout Europe but not in the US. I have not seen Norrona’s products in freestanding stores in the US but www.backcountry.com carries a good selection of the company’s product lines.  Slim cut with bright colors, zippers in the right places, and made to layer and complement each other,Norrona’s clothing line hits all the right notes.  To view the complete product line, go to www.norrona.com.

Mammut
I discovered Mammut while living in Switzerland.  Mammut is a Swiss company known for alpine clothing and products. They make amazing jackets and pants for skiing, hiking, and climbing.  But, my favorite products are their backpacks which are lightweight and well-built.

404776_10151319074999582_948136812_nMany of their backpacks also have hip and chest harnesses to distribute the weight making a heavy backpack infinitely more comfortable to carry.  Mammut’s hiking pants are also excellent with zippers on the sides to aerate the leg and above the knee to zip off the bottom and turn the pants to shorts as outdoor temperatures rise. The company also makes climbing harnesses, ropes, sleeping bags, lamps, shoes, boots, and helmets.

17411_10151420761044582_1265689746_nThe clothing is cut slim and the quality is excellent, keeping with Swiss standardsMammut products are widely available in the US as the company has a great distribution network with many stores and websites carrying the company’s product lines..  Once you know the sizing, ordering on-line is easy and I rely on www.backcountry.comwww.rei.com, and www.moosejaw.com often.  For more information or to view the complete product line, go to www.mammut.com 
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Peak Performance
Peak Performance is Scandinavia’s biggest sportswear clothing label and is based out of Sweden. The company was started by two guys in 1989 with ski wear and expanded into other sportswear.  Peak Performance has 80 stores in 21 countries but they don’t have a store in the US yet so I order their products at www.backcountry.com.

65109_455301628536_6268817_nPeak Performance makes jackets in amazing colors but the fit is what will sell you.  Slim cut with the right arm length, peak performance jackets are a standout.  To view the company’s complete product line, go to http://www.peakperformance.com/.

390977_10150435112998537_174982694_nI’m hoping that as I  get older, I can be excused from the rigid requirements of normal clothing similar to how we forgave our grandparents for wearing sansabelts, leisure suits and muumuus. Those were the comfort clothes of the 60’s;  NorronaMammut, and Peak Performance clothing…well, these are the comfort clothes of the 10’s.
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