It’s repeated time and again, but Bozeman is an outdoor mecca. The Gallatin Valley has as many opportunities for outdoor recreation as anywhere else in the country, and the people who live here know it.
As a rule, clothing or gear designed for outdoor recreation should put utility and durability before aesthetics. Recreational clothing serves different purposes than traditional garments, so it is only natural that the emphasis is shifted. In a valley where nine out of twelve months carry an average low in the 30’s, this is a good thing.
However, there has been a recent shift in the outdoor gear culture towards aesthetics, with companies trying to create apparel that can be worn on the grid as well as off. This idea is prevalent on Main Street — Bozeman’s most concentrated shopping center — with over a dozen shops carrying what could be called “cross-over gear.”
This emphasis on aesthetics has been embraced by people who can afford it — a prevalent group in Bozeman. Companies such as Patagonia and Arc’teryx now carry the same effect locally as brands like Gucci or Versace carry elsewhere. Additionally, smaller boutique companies with an even greater focus on looks are becoming popular — think Filson or Barbour — providing people the opportunity to buy gear that might get more use on the street than in the wilderness.
Along with a strong culture of high-class outdoor apparel, Bozeman carries a large youth population. With MSU enrollment breaking 15,000, another high school on the way and the total population of Bozeman estimated at a little over 38,000, it’s fair to say Bozeman is a young town.
[pullquote align=”right”]Bozeman is special. There is a certain feel or vibe here that doesn’t take long to pick up on. It’s present in the buildings, the weather, the land. Most importantly, however, it’s present in the people: what Bozemanites do, say, think, eat and wear.[/pullquote]
This youth population carries the same enthusiasm for the outdoors, but wears it differently. They are more exposed and more willing to experiment with different styles, oftentimes seeking vintage or progressive looks as cheaper alternatives to boutique stores.
Additionally, there are a large number of people in Bozeman who dedicate themselves entirely to enjoying the great outdoors. With little to no source of extra income, buying new or expensive clothing simply isn’t an option.
Altogether, Bozeman’s outdoor and youth culture provide a unique combination. The people of Bozeman have capitalized on their location and show it in their fashion.
The first noticeable sign of fall is the sudden abundance of boots and outerwear. Black leggings could be considered the true first sign, but I’ll not do them the dignity of discussing them here. Give it up – they aren’t pants.
Boots, whether they are leather hiking boots, riding boots or L.L. Bean rain boots, automatically increase the formality of a casual outfit while also keeping the mud and rain at bay. Additionally, jackets and coats keep you warm and provide a perfect opportunity to layer in a sweater, wool scarf or gloves.
Down jackets seem to be extremely popular at the moment, and with good reason: Down, depending on the fill-count, is incredibly warm and usually presents a clean front and back, accomplishing the same effect as a more formal jacket.
The combination of the two is the integration of function and aesthetics: outfits that can look good on the street, but also work well in weather. Bozemanites exploit the combination as an opportunity to use layering to achieve the same goal.
But enough talk, let’s take a look.