What Women Want In Apparel

Fishing For Women
Fishing apparel for women

They are called hand-me-downs. We have all received fishing apparel from our brother or husband that fails to fit our feminine physique. You know, the fishing vest that cannot zip around your chest, waders with a crotch that hangs around your mid-thigh area or a jacket with the bottom snap open because it will not close around your hips.

These types of fashion faux pas may soon be a thing of the past. For the last two years, major manufacturers like Orvis, Columbia, Tarponwear and Patagonia are taking notice of the 12.9 million women who fish annually (according to the National Sporting Goods Association, 1999). This reflects a new movement among top clothing manufacturers to create female-specific fishing apparel.

"We started a women's line in 2000 and we doubled the line the next year," said Angela Hult, spokesperson for Columbia Sportswear Company of Portland, Ore. "Our commitment is here to stay and is a direct result of the increase in demand."

Despite the new line making up less than 10 percent of their total annual sales revenue of $690 million, "Columbia remains dedicated to growing this female-specific area," said David Robinson, general manager of hunting, fishing and accessories at Columbia.

So, what exactly makes a piece of fishing apparel female specific? Hult believes it is all about combining performance with feminine styling.

"Columbia considers the technical and performance aspects first and then we bring in new colors designs and fit," she said. "Colors such as sea foam green, sunkist coral and periwinkle, along with the traditional colors of tan and white, are colors that seem to appeal to women," Wotkyns said, "but we don't use pink." And, for good reason. Women do not want to scare the fish away! We want to catch them.

Fit (or cut) seems to be the greatest area of concern for women. No one knows more about these new cuts than Tammie Muse of North Little Rock, Ark., a co-angler that placed in the top 10 at a FLW Tour event.

"I appreciate the efforts being made by companies to make shirts better fitting by shortening the length and trimming the sleeves, but I don't like it when the shirts are so form-fitting that my movement is restricted," she said.

This is why Muse says she will continue to use men's shirts until a better cut comes out. Muse's story also reiterates the importance of women communicating to manufacturers.

"It takes 18 to 24 months to introduce a new design into the retail market," Wotkyns explains. "This is why it is so important for women anglers to communicate their specific needs with us today."

Columbia has a more proactive approach by hiring female designers who, before starting any new designs, contact members of the female fishing community to make inquires as to their needs and desires.

With this type of industry-wide effort, it will not be long until the term 'unisex' becomes obsolete.

Content provided by Bass Fishing Magazine, the official publication of FLW Outdoors