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The Genderization of Gear

By Katherine Donnelly on

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the topic of gender - and more specifically, how it relates to gear - is a hot conversation within snowsports. While the industry as a whole has dumped a huge amount of resources + effort over the past decade or so into creating high-quality products for both men and women (and thankfully beginning to shift away from that dreaded 'shrink it and pink it' mentality), a more pressing question has become prominent in this ever-evolving dialogue: why do we need to slap a gender on everything? Why not just create different products that meet the needs of different people, regardless of their sex or gender identification.

This is something that we talk about a lot at TREW, so when long-time ambassador, Audrey Hebert, got in touch wanting to write out some of her thoughts about the world of outerwear the way she sees it we said, 'yes, please!'. 

We'll let Audrey take it from here...

My roommate’s hips don’t lie, and his thighs are muscular enough to make Godzilla green with envy. I’m not making this up, he was a stand-in double for the Jurassic Park T-Rex. Let’s just say the chaffing is real, the poor dude wears through his touring pants crotch faster than a pissed-off Karen asking for the manager.

I told him to wear women’s bibs on the logic that a lot of women's-specific pants are reinforced at the thighs & crotch to accommodate the chaffing. Shock and horror washed over his face. I contemplated getting a spatula to peel his eyebrows from the ceiling. How dare I suggest such a preposterous faux pas. But I guess if you’re a man, then you’re required by some unwritten stature of a higher power to wear men’s clothes. Societal norms dictate that for straight men, unless you’re going full on Mrs. Doubtfire, there is no such thing as wearing women’s clothing without lessening your masculinity. You would think in an age of body positivity and gender inclusion, we would have left those clothes-minded perceptions in 1950.


At the base, it makes sense. Men's and women’s clothes are designed to fit their respective gender’s body typical fit. Except let’s face it, we’re a bunch of misfits. It’s like the kids puzzle with the star, the triangle, the circle, and the square. We’re all trying to force the triangle to fit in the star hole but we’re just f*cking up the puzzle. I mean, we are literally f*cking up our youth with this constrictive idea of genderizing our clothes. I see those young girls that don’t fit in the typical women’s fit, that guy that really wants that cool baby blue jacket, or my roommate with his almighty king-sized thighs, and the uncomfortable situation our societal norms put them in. You fit in what fits you, regardless of the assigned gender. Stop trying to make Rubik's cubes happen; it’s never gonna happen. 


Personally, I like men’s outwear more than women’s; it just fits me better. I got legs till Tuesday. Think “Mr.peanut-legs-coming-out-6-seconds-ahead-of-you” legs...femurs for days. The shorter fit of women’s ski/snowboard pants give me that trendy “mid-drift exposed; water in the basement” Florida look. Not flattering. Women's outerwear also typically embraces a more fitted and “form-hugging” style that might be cute but is uncomfortable and restricting. It’s hard to do anything - let alone snowboarding - without my bibs climbing up my Mario crack for a game of fetch. I don’t need my bibs to be the push up bra of my ass. I’ve got yoga pants for that. Hell, I’ve seen women's with bibs so tight their cameltoe mouthed “help me”. Let me tell you: not all hugs are good hugs.



  Form-fitting may be a stylish, but its not very practical. It certainly makes it challenging to layer up without looking like the Michelin man. I’m not saying he’s not cute and all, but he almost certainly does not have the best spread eagle out there. I just want enough room so that I can bend those long canes of mine without ripping my pants. I’m not talking MC hammer loose but you can’t deny, the guy did bend those knees like nobody else. I bet you he probably has a pretty dope method, too.




Moreover, I’m convinced that the purse industry is conspiring with women's outerwear designers to shrink our pockets! Even toddlers have larger pocket than us…I mean what have they got to carry anyway? The key to the patriarchy? Seriously girls, if you have not yet been introduced to the wonders of mens outerwear pockets, get your Dora the Explorer on, you’re in for a trip. Actual usable pockets! It’s a whole new level of storage UHaul has not even breached yet. It echoes down there…

Menswear also gets more - and better - color choices, in general. Not that there is anything wrong with either color, but almost everything for women is pink or black. Like my choices are being a princess or a witch. Did the printer run out of ink? Do they think we’re color blind? Maybe the designers really, really like Wednesday or maybe they have us confused with bulls…they think we get more ferocious on our board when we see magenta…so ferocious!!! Just add one trendy fedora hat to that flamingo outfit and we’re ready to take on the slopes like the bulls of Pamplona take on the city. Like I said, ferocious… 


Choices were made, sides were picked.

I once did a photoshoot for the winter catalogue of a well-known outdoor outfitter. The kind of outfitter that carries brands like Acteryx, Flylow, Burton, The North Face & Helly Hansen, to name a few. This was a proper shoot; they paid us, put each of us in a private suite of a luxury hotel, and took us heli-skiing in Revelstoke for five days to insure the best possible snow and footage. They had ski/snowboard marketing pros specifically handpick all the gear they wanted to push for their catalogue. Professional photographer & videographer….nothing but the best, handpicked by the industry’s best, all for the best look…and let me tell ya what the best looks like…

 The guys looked like Greek gods of the snowpack…T-Rice himself would have A-Okay’d their outfit. Candide had nothing on their steeze. Me though, my first outfit looked like the prototype for the classic ‘never-seen-snow-before-I’m-clueless-but-I’m-trying’ chick. You know the one. She just walked straight out of a cheap hallmark movie to snatch the town’s hunky carpenter. My second outfit…I don’t even know where to start with this monstrosity…"I rolled in unicorn barf" comes to mind. The female skier they picked for the shoot looked ready for the complaint desk. She spotted the “manager now!” B-line bibs along with the “Da Karen” jacket from the Kate Plus Shriek brand. She had the looks that said I’m Greg from LA’s worst half.

You get the picture, we both looked better suited for a bougie martini bar than the Heli. I know what you’re thinking: c’mon! It’s not THAT bad. Let me prove you wrong here…enter Monstrosity 1: I call it the 'Prada Mafia'. This is what the industry think we want to look like…I dare you to ask why we roll our eyes out loud. Seriously, we just want pockets, to bend our knees and look like we don’t still believe in the tooth fairy.

So it’s all fun and jokes, but you get it. There are some advantages to women’s gear and some to men’s gear. Really, it all comes down to what fits your body and fashion preferences. If you like the martini bar and the ‘Prada Mafia’ look, that’s okay. There is no right or wrong here. That’s the whole point. Go on and wear what fits your fancy, regardless of what the tag or the patriarchy says. 


Thankfully for me, I found TREW and my unicorn days have since become dusty skeletons in my closet. TREW didn’t question it when I eyeballed their men’s wear. They gladly told me that, as long as I liked the outerwear, I could wear whatever I wanted. They just want me to be stoked on whatever I wear and that’s how it should be. If I want to mix weird colors or look baggy they don’t care. Hell, they’ll give me a flagpole to wave my freak flag around. What they care about is to give the people what they want; more colors than your usual pallet, longer or shorter bib fits, and pockets that are (AMEN) usable for all. And man, do we appreciate that!

So go on wearing that ‘TREW to yew’ fit and stick it to the wo/man, you beautiful wierdos. TREW’s got your back!





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