I have always been a fan of First Ascent clothing, but there is one thing that irks me most about their clothing range for women: the inconsistent, and often completely inadequate, length of their women’s tops and jackets. From an apparel perspective, I could accept this in certain circumstances, but we’re not talking a primary purpose of fashion and style, we are dealing with clothing that is positioned to primarily serve a functional purpose.
You must understand that I have many First Ascent items, among these, two jackets (a wind breaker for running and a down jacket); two fleeces (one zip-up one and one hoodie); and a thin long-sleeve top for hiking/running. In addition, I have just purchased a fully waterproof 3-in-1 jacket with detachable hoodie. Of these items, with the exception of one fleece and the wind-breaker, all tops are too short. I do not understand it! Why are men granted the right to have a waterproof jacket that actually covers their ass, but women not?! Why do clothing designers and manufacturers feel that it is okay to design a down jacket for the pits of winter, but that doesn’t cover your bum? Or a fleece top meant to keep you cosy under your jacket, but that barely reaches below your pants’ line?
I think I have been in denial. As a passionate brand strategist, I wanted to support a local brand. I am convinced by their experience and credibility in the outdoor world: performance tested gear. I also expected that the brand name and quality would justify my purchase each time. Yet, in almost every single instance, as soon as I pass the new clothing item honeymoon phase, I am left with buyer’s remorse; that same irritated feeling that I have just spent a premium on a piece of outdoor apparel that doesn’t fulfill the functional purpose for which it was intended (and tested apparently).
A waterproof jacket is meant to keep you dry. I buy it to protect me from the disastrous winter months in the Western Cape when believe it or not, we still go camping and walking in the rain! I buy it to ensure that when an unexpected downpour occurs on my Drakensberg hike, I stay as dry as possible until I can find shelter or get back to camp. I am certainly not spending R1999 to show my booty off at my next campsite visit!
I truly am disappointed and am at a point where I think it might be worth taking the relatively expensive plunge and investing in some of the international brands that take outdoor gear a little more seriously.