However, I was also slightly disappointed throughout the day as I enquired about gear available for women at various stands. One of those stands that I was particularly drawn to was Jöttnar with their beautiful branding and “conquer giants” motto.
But then I saw the sales rep’s face drop as I asked that question: “what’s your range for women like?”
The conversation that followed went something like this:
“Erm, quite small, we only offer down, mid layer and accessories.”
“No, most women just buy the men’s version in a size smaller as long as it fits their hips. We’ve kept the colouring gender neutral to allow for this.”
“That’s a bit unfair.”
“Well, we have to think about the commerciality of the range. We do have three athletes though, one of which is female, and she gives us great feedback.”
At that point I went back to my friends who were ogling salopettes. You always think of something better to say after an encounter, and I’ve been pondering about Jöttnar over the past few days.
To me, whenever brands offer such a limited female range compared their male one, it sends the message of “the cool stuff isn’t for you.” It just feels like they’re saying “put the ice axes down, step away from the crampons and wait until summer when you can go on an amble.”
How do you know making full female range isn’t commercial if you don’t even offer us the chance to buy the gear in the first place?
Furthermore, “just buy the male one in a size smaller” doesn’t sit very well with me. The rep even said himself “as long as it fits the hips.” And that’s the problem here – my body is very different to a man’s body of the “same size.” My hips are probably bigger than his whilst my shoulders narrower. I go in more at the waist and I’m probably going to need a bit more room at the front of a jacket to cater for the female anatomy.
If I’m spending £450 on a shell, I’m not going to settle for shoddy fit. For that amount of money I want impeccable tailoring so I’d head straight to other premium brands (like Haglofs, Mountain Equipment or Arc’teryx,) who actually understand that women’s bodies are different.
The isn’t the first time I’ve had a good moan about the gear on offer for women, and it most probably won’t be the last. This isn’t a personal attack on Jöttnar – they’re not the only ones. I’m just really fed up with being treated as inferior when it comes to the outdoors because I’m female. #GirlsGoAdventuringToo and girls conquer giants too.