Friday, July 31, 2009




July 22, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

We bet that that the flip flop flap that followed a White House meet/greet with then President Bush and the winning Northwestern Lacrosse team …would have been mitigated if the ladies wore some of the Flojos styles that we saw.

The number of mod Flojos thongs, sandals and slides on display for this administration- was staggering…so we zeroed in on the ones that jumped out to us. And we think Mrs. Obama would approve...

Naturally, the animal (ZEBRA, EXOTIC, leopard-SAFARI, JUNGLE, giraffe KENYA) and reptile (cobra MAMBA, snake PIPER) print patterns-in various color options… on flat thongs to 2 1/2inch wedges ($17-$36)… were still going strong, retail wise.

An unusual detail that we loved in one style…the KEIRA--- has a solid color upper with the outsole patterned in animal prints.

And there are slides (TANZI and AKELA) in trendy animal prints too.

Boho/Hippy cool is always “in” and Flojos has a cute peace sign medallion thong and a paisley print insole flip flop--- that’ll rock that look.

Crystal rhinestone embellishments on the Shoreline Chic leather ROXANNE style were also bump ups from the typical casual wear…and qualify as California formal footwear to us.

Men get their feet cuddled with the cradle effect of the heel to toe insole and the treaded heel outsoles of the popular leather Voyage and Swift sandals. ($48)

Also part of the Big Kahunas collection, the marbleized HOOPER and solid colored HUNTER with contrast stitching details…were smart looking kickers.

AND: Flojos mean “kick-back” in Spanish

PS: Can't blame the gal athletes though...cause thongs are easy comfort and college men's BBall teams have shown up in their sneakers.





July 23rd, 2009

Words, Judith Ecochard

Images from the web and J. Eochard

We have always had a tough time finding sunglasses that don’t slide down the bridge of our noses.

That annoying problem was solved with a pair of women specific- designed Zeal Optics (the Tensai model).

What we didn’t know, and learned recently, was that the exclusive ZB-13 Polarized lenses that outfit our shades – perform in the broadest range of light conditions.

Meaning we don’t have to keep switching up our eye protection on days with varying there you see it, now you don’t –sunshine…that’s particularly not a fun activity in the middle of a climb or snowboarding. Happily one pair of sunglasses can provide comfort, clarity of terrain, ie depth perception, (there goes that excuse when we miss a putt), and optimal transmission of light to our peepers that we need.

And the frames sit just so on our face…that air can circulate…ridding us of foggy lenses.

For Spring 2010, Zeal Optics has trendy frames that’ll look as great on urban savvy types as well as they perform for die-hard athletes. We love the pricey Big Designer look of the lightweight, oversized Entice™ frames ($110)…and how the spring hinges allow us to strike a pose with the sunglasses resting on top of our head, without stretching out.

Another fav is the sport “shield” Orb™ ($110) that are as much of a fashion statement as any sunglasses we’ve ever seen. Except they actually are technically performing with adjustable non-slip, non-allergenic nose pads…and frames made from the highest quality, durable nylon via injection molding…out there.

Really, we’ve seen mega bucks sunglasses slapped on with a designers name that are not as high quality as the costs 50% less, Zeal Optics. And the shapes and blingy logo don’t merit the differential either.

Guys go for the best selling Maestro™ sunglasses ($130) …but we really liked the new Flyer™ ($110) that are oversized in a handsome rectangular shape.

ADDED PLUS: ZEAL lenses are also prescription ready, made from the same shatterproof Polycarbonate lense materials. And up to 30% of materials and cases come from recycled sources. ECO!




Outdoor Retailer Market, SLC Utah

July 22, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Experia Wool/Silk Image Courtesy Of Thor Lo®

To think they we could easily spend an hour talkin’ ‘bout activity specific socks…

Easily one of the highpoints at OR is our time spent at the THOR LO® booth …where our free wheeling chat gets us psyched to get OUT and actually try the ped coverings.

Last January, we were introduced to the Experia® COOLMAX® socks, the technically performing, fashion forward running socks (six colors) that launched a few months ago and “blew out.”

Here’s why.

Building on Thor los’ expertise in essential padding, the Experias are made with contoured and sculptured ball and heel engineered pads (where the foot strikes)…but are lighter and thinner (better fitting) than its competitors.

WHY? “Because of the evolution of footgear,” noted Jeff Lawson, Director of Marketing for Thor lo…”as they’re narrower, multi-functional, more narrow, and weigh less.”

“Comfort is still key.”

But more importantly to some, we’re sure…are the vibrant color options that bust out of that drab neutral palette---in citrus shades of lemon yellow, lime and well as black, blue and a blue/black duo.

That matchy-match the hot shades in running shoes too.

WHAT’S NEW: This fun, fashion/performing brand (CoolMax loaded-66%!!!) is coming out in even more new palette selections.

Just in time for the holidays, the “Taste of Chocolate” collection for gals is made up of Experia’s --in five snazzy “yummy” hot chocolate color combos…like Blue/Brown (and soft colors – yellow, pink, orange and lime /brown).

PLUS: For Spring 2010 (February launch)…three more Experia shades are set to hit retail shelves…orchid, turquoise, and a poppin’ cherry red. ($13.99)

For guys, the “tried and true” black/white combo…is still around…as it’s a best seller.

WHAT ELSE: Cross Training and ‘do-it-in-a-day” outdoor romps are rapidly gaining favor…and Thor lo is on it. A comfy merino wool (warmth, moisture management), blended with silk (soft!) --with the sculptured protective pads, of course--- are found in the new trail running friendly EXPERIA Wool/Silk socks ($16.99 February launch).

The aerodynamic, glove like fit comes courtesy of Lycra® while a lightweight Achilles Tendon Pad protects against rubbing and chafing.

And because Thor lo is all about “bringing fun to a frugal consumer,” these socks are coming out in cool shades like “Khaki, Pink Pizazz, Burnt Orange, Brick Red, Wild Blue Yonder, Charcoal, Celery, Forest Green, and Chestnut Brown.”

There’s a crew style too ($19.99) in dude friendly darker shades of Chestnut Brown, Forest Green, and Charcoal.

“We’re going to keep being creative…and keep experimenting…keeping it fresh,” Lawson told us. Amen to that.

PLUS:Our philosophy is longevity…our socks last five to ten years.” Point being that even though Thor los are made of/with synthetics, they last longer, spare refills, and “you can recycle synthetics.”






July 23rd, 2009

Words, Booth Image Judith Eocohard

Other Images from the WEBSITE

We were always cruising by the booth of the OlovesM Collection of trendy eco carryalls…on our way to and from the East/West divide of the Outdoor Retailer Market/Salt Palace floorplan… that took us hours to figure out, duh.

Lucky us, we caught a free moment with the engaging, busy bee proprietor, Merle O’Brien…who was usually swarmed with buyers.

Here’s why: The bags are really nice and come in all the sizes we need…clutches, totes, H2O holders, bucket satchels. All are well made…by home workers, (yes!), have inner and outer compartments for haulers like us, and come in terrif colors and patterns.

Our top picks in the lineup are the sandy jute offerings in big and small sizes. The super sized Sundance model was the eco swag bag at the Film Fest.

There’s also a Sport Collection that includes the aforementioned water bottle holder with a handy mesh pocket for our necessaries.

Perky patterns dominate the Fab Collection’s functional Fab Tote (with a mat bottom)…and the peace signed selection really garnered BIG retailer interest.

Major bonus points go to OlovesM as all the fabrics are “repurposed” - sparing ours the company donates bags to raise $ for non-profits,

A nice story---but trust us, OlovesM’s got game too…stylewise.


Thursday, July 30, 2009




July 29th, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

We thought we had to do a major rewire of brain cells as the Original Penguin/K2 launch was our first NY "Fashion" event after a week in Utah at Outdoor Retailer.

Impressively though, this limited edition mash-up of these two stellar brands went beyond well. It was genius…and captured the MO of what we saw in the Rockies, fashion forward style without compromising the technical attributes of our gear that we demand, and rely on as athletes.

Original Penguin™ is a major global lifestyle brand and has come a long way since the powers that be took grandpa’s go-to polo with the birdy logo…and developed into a casual cool collection of guys and gals attire/accessories with classic American swagger. It is huge across the Pond, as authentic USA labels with panache are in BIG demand by Euros…

We REALLY discovered this a few weeks ago-while at the massive Bread n Butter, Berlin.

Also noticeable---- Original Penguin has signature design elements, besides the logo…like colorful retro edgy plaid/stripped patterns that are eye-catching--- not eyeball busting tacky.

It’s probably these attributes that captured the interest of Cory Little, the K2 Global Image and Design Manager who generously shared some of his thoughts with us with regards to the SLAYBLADE …and package appropriate MASIS DBL BOA boots and AUTO bindings.

“I reached out to them (O.P.) he told us…and toiled with the many bits of fabric images on his computer- to get the mix just right.

Clearly he has a good eye to “make it work” as the visuals of the board are cohesive, balanced and HIP.

It was the super knowledgeable Charlie Kiesa, the Mid Atlantic Territory Manager of K2 who gave us the 411 on the technical gee whiz aspects of the equipment on display.

First off- the boards are lightweight due to patented HYBRITECH CONSTRUCTION, that “features a thin, constant thickness sidewall designed for maximum performance and minimal material usage.” Added pluses: turns easy…very important in thick snow, even we’d have a hard time trashing the board (durable)…and the tail doesn’t spin out so we don’t wipe out (as much)…

AND stability is also greatly aided by the new FLATLINE TECHNOLOGY that doesn’t detract from the responsiveness or “POP” of the board.

What really jazzed us was the HARSHMELLOW TECHNOLOGY… a unique vibration dampening system that helps our fear level, as we ride on East Coast ice or slicked out catwalks at speed. It’s a synthetic polymer compound…that’s applied to the board (it looks/feels wavy---Kiesa tilted the board so we could see), the boots (a thick layer “designed to absorb impact and shock associated with stomping landings”), and a medium layer on the bindings that absorb low frequency vibrations.

Bottom Line: All three layers got you vibrantly covered.

We also got schooled on the original white Original Penguin™ boot with a shock absorbing footbed (EVA Foam, Harshmellow Technology) for better board feel, and the souped up linings…the Intuition™ Control foam 3D – supple, supportive and long lasting-no packed in throwaways at the end of the season…and the Boa® CONDA System that” hangs on tight and will never let go.”

And freezing our hands to lace up is so old school…as the liner lacing system (kinda a misnomer)--- is really a multi-part dial -in comfortable support via the easily accessible black knobs that increase/decrease pressure. Nice.

WHAT’S NEXT? The O.P. helmut? We vow to ride with one of those.

MAJOR BONUS POINTS: Kiesa did not roll his eyeballs or even crack a smile when we told him we’re still rockin the K2 Clickers from the last Century (ok we have a problem with the toe edge). Thank-you Charlie- as we totally dated ourselves…


Wednesday, July 29, 2009



July 23rd, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

We grew up/live in a town (ok, a really big one, NYC) where residents are effortlessly too cool for school, where trends are set, and the sleek street wear adorning the swarms of humanity that crowd the sidewalks …are mimicked by fashionistas across the globe.

Nevertheless----we got a MAJOR bump up in our “hip” quota after getting Outdoor Retailer educated on a line of clothing, that of all things (LOL)--- is tailored to meet the needs of law enforcement and military agencies around the world:
5.11+ TACTICAL®.

WHAT: We were lucky to get a nice, knowledgeable Division Manager to show us the key separates…and point out the intentionally not so obvious bells and whistles.

First off, we reviewed the new Taclite™ Pro Pant that’s an easy-care, durable and breathable (65% polyester/35% cotton) version of the “authentic” 5.11+ Tactical® Pant.

Frankly, we were bowled over by the details…like an extra Cordura® edged media pocket, (FYI really crafted to hold magazines, NOT the reading kind, and phones), patented rear strap and slash pockets for easy access- that doesn’t rip, Teflon® treated to resist stains, and tailoring pluses like double and triple needle stitching, a diamond gusseted crotch for bustin’ stretchy moves, pre-cut holes at the bottom-good for wearing boots, and YKK® zippers and Prym® snaps…the primo kind used by the very high-end designers we cover in our other life.

At $49.99, we think these trousers (Men’s and Women’s) are a multi-functional no-brainer purchase, as they look good (the cargo pockets lie flat), pack/travel well, and will smartly hold up under the most challenging conditions and athletic endeavors. Size ranges are staggering…not to worry…and color options are the neutrals that’ll blend (Coyote beige, TDU Green, TDU Khaki, Tundra-a grayish brown fusion, Dark Navy, and the urban fav, Black).

We also saw the Taclite TDU Pant, a super strong trouser with self-adjusting waist for comfort, cargo pockets with built-in dividers to organize what one’s hauling around, triple stitching and double-thick seat and knees…
…and the fully loaded (metaphorically speaking) TDU Pant that boasts cargo pockets with a Back-up Belt System™ for all kinds of extra gear (on the legs), triple stitching and 40-plus bar tacks in high stress areas, plus free removable neoprene knee pads.

We probably would be very happy wearing a pair on mega mountain treks/scrambles and Spring snowboarding…as technically performing attire works wherever, when ever.

There are shorts in this grouping too.

Shirts are equally as well done and not “dumbed down.”

New this year are the Taclite Pro Long and Short Sleeve Shirt ($49.99) made from a durable, Teflon® treated, light weight 4-oz 65% polyester/35% cotton ripstop fabric. The fabulous details include a handy pen pocket on the left sleeve, no shoulder seams…they’re rolled forward so its good for carrying backpacks (or holsters), six pockets including 5.11’s patented hidden document pockets that are easily accessed, and neat touches like a hidden button down collar, a cape back with moisture wicking mesh liner, and double reinforced elbows on the long sleeves.

Added Plus: Melamine buttons that are practically indestructible…and matchy-matchy color options.

A Covert Collection of casual lightweight, breathable tops (UPF 40) have a Tommy Bahamas vibe—and fill the need for functional, versatile clothes that can hold one's stash.

And that sport tailoring flourishes that are crucial, given the customer base----like breakaway side vents for easy access to holster or whatever one has attached that’s well concealed due to the generous cut, and patent-pending concealment pockets---in the front with a cool RapiDraw center front snap-that’s perfect for travel documents. We were impressed with the way the fabric- a 70% rayon/30% polyester polynosic fabric with a proprietary weave- drapes on the body. Apparently, the shirts conceal “naturally” over guns or gear…

We’ve spent enough time in pickpocket paradises…so we love the Covert tops. Waiting for the Ladies’ version…

Because like that Beatles' ditty, “…everybody’s got something to hide…”

There’s an extensive line of Undergear too. We got the 411 on the Holster Shirt, a dual layer shirt (outer mesh/inner neoprene with a terry cloth surface) with genius side pockets that we were told…would appeal to the sneak in the beers/flasks to football game types. Ahem.

Realistically, it’s a great workout top (finally, a smart way to carry our iPod and Blackberry)…plus the flat seams prevent chafing and the fabric is moisture wicking, antimicrobial and quick drying with 20% spandex for shape retention and a close fit. ($49.99).

UNBELIEVABLE: AGAIN….the prices. And the actionwear we wear has got to be comfortable, and importantly-highly reliable. SO we respect the MO of this company.

MOST WANTED: This is a real breakthrough. The Light For Life™ ($169.99) is an amazingly lightweight torch that uses no batteries and charges in 90 seconds (eco friendly!). It shines at a bright 90 lumens for 90 minutes per charge (270 lumens peak) and is rated to last for 50,000 charge cycles…meaning it ‘fires’ up once daily for 135 years.

Science wise, this revolutionary flashlight is “powered by FlashPoint® Power Technology, a sophisticated energy management system that merges state-of-the-art ultracapacitors with advanced solid-state programming to efficiently load, and unload, and manage energy.”

What a perfect ‘have’… for every one, everywhere. As Big Apple residents, we’d like to see the FDNY kitted out with these…as we have strong opinions on equipment failures, like they’re not an option.

WHAT ELSE: Talk about an inventory model that should be a subject of a Harvard Business School Case Study—5.11+ Tactical® has a massive inventory on hand, ready to ship NOW. Serendipitously, retailers and consumers are ordering/purchasing on a tight, in season leash- instead of months ahead of time---especially in these economic climes. And 5.11+ Technical® can deliver the goods as needed. And always has- as its core customer base, like the FBI, doesn’t pre-order.

BACKGROUND: Head guy Dan Costa took his former company, Royal Robbins’ 5.11 climbing pants…and morphed them into 5.11+ Tactical® with added details, and over the years, expanded offerings of accessories and attire.
Customer feedback is key…and “5.11’s Subject Matter Experts” include Special Forces/Special Operations Command veterans turned “no-nonsense, battle-proven tactical training” kind of guys.

Seriously impressive and mildly intimidating.

THE NAME: A rating system (Yosemite Decimal System) “grades” the difficulties of rock climbs from 5.0 (easy) up through 5.10 A B C or D (tough, tough, tough-we’re sweatin’ bullets (sic) at 5.8).

And then there’s 5.11…that “ is officially defined as, “After thorough inspection, you conclude this move is obviously impossible; however, occasionally someone actually accomplishes it.”

INFO: To view/shop the collection of attire and accessories—check out 5.11+ online:


Now that it actually stopped raining, Big Apple residents and visitors are enjoing alfresco moments.

The latest –and newest- “it” spot-- that has glorious waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline…is the luxurious boutique enclave, the Ravel Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge, located just over the East River in Long Island City.

The decor style is exotically modern… but comfy. And inhibitors will feel welcome (and transported) from the get go as the outdoor space (6000 square feet of lush garden terrace)…the 40 foot bar…and assorted DJs and other special events…keep the vibe friendly.

For the travel phobic, a flat fee of $25 snares valet service from Manhattan. And there’s a 24/7 shuttle service from nearby subway stops.


8-08 Queens Plaza, Long Island City, NY
(718) 289-6101

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


S/S 2010

Outdoor Retailer Market, SLC-Utah

July 23rd, 2009

Words, Images- Judith Ecochard

We had a senior moment when we first got the email from Crumpler. But then our brain cells fired up with complete recognition…as this line of fun and thoughtfully detailed haulers are very popular in the Big Apple (especially the Messenger and Photographers Bags

with padded laptop sleeves and a quiet Velcro silencer so as not to ruin the moment).

Originally hailing from Australia, Crumpler’s navigated the Pacific with colorful and durable carryalls that manage to have compartments for people like us- that carry our lives around (the Commuter line)...and for people that carry their near and dear around (baby packs).

What’s new for Spring 2010 are the Duffle Bags made from Nylon 900 “D” …meaning it’ll survive commercial airline manhandling.

And the revamped, retooled Sinking and Customary Barges daypacks and bags also have rainhoods that protect against the elements.

There’s also a hydration pack collection (The Bumper Issue) with tubes that snake down either side, a clip that has a safety whistle, a bite valve and a removable bladder so one can use the carryall as a day pack too.

Crumpler Bags has an e-commerce store, are available online on many sites… and has a brick and mortar’s location in the West Village at 49 8th Avenue Between Jane and West 4th Streets, NYC.

WHAT WE LOVE: The names…like “5 Million Dollar Home” for a large messenger bag…and jazzy graphics ---like the traffic stopping "Barney Rustle Blanket" hauler.

FYI: Apparently the founder stitched up the originally Crumpler to efficiently transport pizza and a six-pack of beer. ALRIGHT MATE!