The South Tyrolean Oberalp Group, which owns the Salewa, Dynafit, Wild Country, Evolv and Pomoca brands, has presented the new mountain sports brand LaMunt, exclusively for women, at the Oberalp Convention. It is scheduled to be launched in stores in winter 2021/22. Ruth Oberrauch, creator of the brand and daughter of the company’s founder, Heiner Oberrauch, explains the concept.
OIC: What must a sports brand for women do differently than a men’s or unisex brand? What are the differences?
Ruth Oberrauch: LaMunt is a mountain sports brand by women for women, which means we think very specifically about women’s needs and incorporate solutions into our products in the best possible way. Our product team consists of women who bring their personal experience to the task. Still, we also involve potential users from the start and proactively ask about their wishes and requirements.
OIC: What is your approach, exactly?
Oberrauch: To give you a specific example: We have extended our pants over the lower back for more protection. In a workshop with 25 female mountaineers, we learned that women want more protection from drafts there. We’ve added a Merino Tencel liner to the inside of this higher back and thus ensure additional comfort, not only because the material dries faster. Fit matters, as well. Suppose you’re developing a ladies-only product from scratch. Your approach to design will already be different, and you can take the contours of the female body into greater account. Another of our concerns is to create a feminine look with LaMunt without resorting to the usual stereotypical female colors.
OIC: Why does the mountain sports market need a new women’s brand? Aren’t you competing with other brands within the Oberalp Group, many of whose products are also for women?
Oberrauch: The number of women in the mountains is continually growing, and almost 50 percent of the active outdoor enthusiasts in the U.S. and Europe are women. This is also confirmed by the consistent sales of female apparel within the Oberalp Group. It underscores the fact that many women are actively participating in mountain sports. The Oberalp Group has high standing in the market, with five established mountaineering brands, and specializes in the mountain experience. We want to address consumers as specifically as possible. With LaMunt, we’re targeting the self-confident woman who’s looking for a little more fitness and a feminine fit without sacrificing functionality. We address women who want to experience the mountains as a place for their personal time-out, and they inspire us.
OIC: How do you have to approach women as customers today to make them feel you’re paying attention? Which topics are important?
Oberrauch: Women see themselves as powerful and capable, just like men. The modern woman spending time outdoors is authentic, genuine, natural and sensitive, but also tasteful, lively and strong. They explore unusual places in the mountains and take their new feminine values to the alpine playground, which men have historically dominated.
OIC: You’ve conducted a semiotic study on women and their perception of the mountains. What was the result?
Oberrauch: That study on women and mountain sports, commissioned by the Oberalp Group, together with Karma’s Behavioural Insights, one of the most internationally recognized behavioral research institutes, revealed so much. Women no longer see themselves as mere appendages when they’re out in the mountains, and they no longer want to be confined to the old paradigm. They don’t want to be reduced to female stereotypes. They perceive their body as equally powerful, but they also acknowledge their needs. They want to express their femininity through their clothing, but they don’t want to give up functionality. This is at the top of their wish list when it comes to mountain sports apparel and gear, followed by the desire for comfort and fit.
OIC: To what extent has the female target group changed its behavior? And how do you let that inform the brand?
Oberrauch: We’re observing that women are increasingly independent and also traveling in all-female groups. At LaMunt, we’ve involved women in the conception and development of new product ideas from the very beginning. In January, before the product development phase started, we organized a two-day workshop with real, authentic women active in the mountains. So we’re now also introducing the LaMunt Crew: Women with a passion for the mountains and design are welcome to critically and actively participate in product development, to network, and to share their love for mountain sports.
OIC: How will the new brand be distributed?
Oberrauch: We’re convinced that online will play an increasingly important role and expand right from the start. On the other hand, a brand like LaMunt needs a physical space to be experienced and touched. Accordingly, we want to find retail partners who believe in our vision. We’re looking for partners in stationary retail who want to travel this road with us, and in so doing we’ve come to believe in a rather exclusive sales policy.