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What Is The Quiet Outdoors Trend?

March 22nd, 2024
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Luxury doesn’t yell, it whispers.

That’s a great quote I heard recently (and sorry that I cannot find a good source of attribution for it). As you may know from our quiet luxury deep-dive, the world of high style has continued to trend more and more into the realm of muted palettes, subtle brand nods, and less of the traditional marketing blitz.

In its place, we’re seeing elevated cloths, drapey silhouettes, and the “if you know, you know” subtle wink from designers to consumers. It was only inevitable that this trend would sweep up some of the tangential areas of style and fashion, like the outdoors industry.

The outdoors, and skiing more specifically, have always had a very symbiotic relationship with the luxury market. Given that the current day pass at Vail is around $300, you can begin to understand why.

Skiing has always been an exclusive sport, and in recent years this has only become more so the case. In fact, recent articles have highlighted the fact that it is less expensive to ski in Europe currently than it is in North America. All this is to say, more and more luxury brands are finding ways to incorporate outdoor clothing, and technical garments at that, into their product lines, aiming to dress you from the moment you wake up at the Little Nell Aspen to the top of the gondola, to Ajax for après.

With that in mind, Quiet Outdoors has become more of a noticeable trend in the last few years, and thankfully, it’s not just the luxury brands that are engaging in its growth. There are plenty of opportunities to incorporate these pieces into your outdoor activities (whether skiing, hiking, biking, or others).

Additionally, the upcoming ban of PFA’s in outdoor garments (chemicals that are generally used in heavy water repellency but that linger in soil forever and are extremely harmful to humans if ingested) is forcing more brands to rethink how they utilize natural fibers and other means of water repellency to achieve their ultimate goals. This should yield even more advancement and creativity in the space, as necessity is the mother of all invention.

So What Exactly Does Quiet Outdoors Mean?

Quiet Outdoors, much like Quiet Luxury focuses on:

  • Subtle branding
  • Elevated fabrics
  • Simple/clean silhouettes and fine lines that highlight the beauty of the garment itself, and the restraint of the wearer.

Look no further than Brunello Cucinelli’s ski collection to see how this is executed to perfection. Again, very subtle branding, with a little bit of drape to the garments (while still highlighting the tailoring) and some interesting features like blends of wool and nylon to give the garment an interesting design. Really well done.

How The Trend Has Evolved The Gear

One of the other markers of this trend has been collaboration between traditional outdoor brands with fashion designers to incorporate quiet elevation of products while still maintaining a technical foundation.

Jil Sander has collaborated over the last few years with Arcteryx to create just such collections, taking some of the most rugged technical outdoors garments and weaving in a bit of capital-F fashion evolution. In their most recent collaboration, you can see how Jil Sander took design elements that Arcteryx already used like:

  • Full ski-suit designs and bib pants (which have grown increasingly popular as a way to keep snow out of your pants and remove the need for belts)
  • Asymmetrical zips as a way to ensure that your chin and lips are not pressed up against a cold zipper
  • Ventilation for your breathing
  • Huge hoods designed to go over helmets
  • Natural fibers and hides incorporated into traditionally technical garments (like leather pulls, wool exteriors, etc.)

The end result is that the products themselves are extremely wearable, even off the mountain, and look as at home at the coffee shop as they do on Blue Sky Basin.

Quiet Outdoors: The Gear

Quiet Outdoors can manifest in a lot of different ways, from a pair of custom Folsom skis to something other than a giant stanley mug at the campfire. Some of the things I would recommend looking into:

  • Snow Peak mugs and tools. Everything Snow Peak does is beautifully simple in its design and function. It looks great, isn’t gaudy, and just works. Get yourself a Ti mug and fork/spoon set for your next campfire

Quiet Outdoors Outerwear

One of my favorite brands that really encapsulates the quiet outdoor trend is Adsum. Their marsu jacket is a perfect example of something that from a distance looks like a nice technical shell, and then up-close you realize is an incredibly sophisticated piece of outerwear. They incorporate high levels of water repellency, wonderfully thoughtful pocket layouts, and the large hood design I discussed very well. The cut is slightly oversized without being ridiculous, and the branding is almost non-existent. This is a quiet outdoor piece done well.

Other great examples of quiet outdoor outerwear come from:

  • Aztech Mountain
  • Houdini
  • Ten C — This is one of my favorite Japanese brands, and each of their puffer jackets is better than the last. Truly incredible stuff.

Quiet Outdoors Footwear

Footwear in the outdoor space hsas been dominated as of late by Salomon, and with good reason. They make a really solid product, they’ve collaborated with some of the biggest brands on the planet, and their technical leanings make for very interesting silhouettes. Other really strong additions to the quiet outdoor space are:

Norda

For the runners out there, Norda has really made a splash by incorporating high quality footwear with interesting colorways and very subtle branding – all the elements that create a cult following in 2024.

Diemme

An Italian brand making wonderful hikers for years (I bought my first pair back in the early #menswear days of 2009), Diemme has continued to step up their game, introducing a new lineup as well as playful takes on traditional booting (like their chelsea offering) that feel very technical but look just at home with a pair of jeans or slacks.

ROA

ROA is probably the fastest climber on this list, and they’ve expanded their offering beyond just footwear to include a RTW collection as well. Everything ROA does is quietly beautiful, but just at home on an alpinist’s foot as a pair of La Sportiva boots.

Quiet Outdoors Pants & Shirts

With Quiet Outdoor shirting and pants, I think there are really two ways to go with it. You can go a little bit wild and try something outside your comfort zone, or you can go with a tried-and-true product. Outdoor gear is always characterized by thoughtful access points, athletic fits, and other design elements like zipped pockets, keychains, and built-in belting. I’ve given an extreme, middle-of-the-road, and conservative recommendation here:

Extreme – Acronym

When it comes to technical outdoor garments, no one is more interesting in my opinion than Acronym. Their products are not for everyone, but they are so thoughtful about the use and abuse of their gear that you can help but be impressed. I’d highly recommend at least exploring a pair of their pants, even if you’re just looking to be like John Mayer.

Middle of the Road – Outlier

Outlier is one of the best balances of style and outdoors that I’ve seen. Their pants incorporate fabrics like duck canvas and denim with more technical elements like stretch and darting in all the right places. I’d highly recommend this as the best option of the bunch, and again, all of their palettes are subtle enough to work with your entire gorp outfit or the Balmacaan that you bought from the HSS Shop.

Conservative – Carhartt, Carhartt WIP

As for other ways to incorporate Quiet Outdoors into your shirts and pants, certainly brands like Carhartt have done a great job of creating products that you can wear day after day without fear of them breaking down, and are not so specific that someone will notice you wearing the same pants or shirt. Their Work In Progress line is a bit more design-forward and can easily incorporate with everything listed here.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Quiet Outdoors is not a new concept, nor is it a fleeting fad. As with everything we talk about here, when incorporated into your wardrobe correctly, these products can last a lifetime and work well in multiple situations. Whether you’re hitting the slopes or just resting in the lodge, this is a great way to showcase your sense of style without screaming it from the chairlift.

Stylishly Yours,
Drew Chambers - He Spoke Style

Drew Chambers

Drew is 6’5″, and his difficult-to-fit frame immediately drew him to custom clothing and niche menswear brands. He is a co-founder of Armscye, a digital agency focused on paid digital advertising, content creation, and holistic marketing solutions for ecommerce brands. Prior to founding Armscye, Drew spent over a decade working in-house as a CMO for a national consulting firm and start-up technology platform, where he helped launch new products as well as built new market and channel expansion strategies. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. Outside of advertising Drew enjoys cycling, skiing, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Featured Image by Arc’athlete Tanja Schmitt for Arc’Teryx

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