Research Outline

Millennials and Outdoor Apparel


To provide insights into the leading outdoor apparel brands among millennials to inform an outdoor clothing brand pitch. Specific information of interest includes:
  • Brands millennials consider when shopping for outdoor clothes (ideally ranked in terms of the level of consideration)
  • Most common channels for outdoor clothing purchases among millennials
  • Leading drivers of outdoor apparel brand choice among millennials

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • The initial round of research indicates data surrounding leading outdoor apparel brands among millennials and what they consider when shopping for outdoor clothing brands is available.
  • Data surrounding where millennials purchase outdoor apparel is limited.

Leading Outdoor Brands Among Millennials

  • A US survey conducted in October 2021 by investment bank, Cowen, found that outerwear brand preference among millennials (defined as 25-34-year-olds) was highest for Northface (37%) followed by Patagonia (11%), Marmot (10%), Canada Goose (7%) and Arc'teryx (4%).
  • Millennial preference for Patagonia, Marmot, Canada Goose, and Arc'teryx increased between 2020 and 2021.
  • The North Face was ranked the 9th "coolest" clothing brand among millennials (21-39) in YPulse's 2021 brand tracking, which measures affinity for 400 North American brands.
  • Patagonia was ranked 87th in a survey of millennials' "favorite brands," conducted by marketing company Moosylvania in April 2021.

Leading Channels for Outdoor Brand Purchasing Among Millennials

  • The leading channel for apparel purchases among millennials is Amazon (38%).
  • While not specific to outdoor apparel, 41% of millennials (and Gen Z) claim to buy via social channels.
  • In a 2021 Klarna survey, 20% of millennials said second-hand stores were their "favorite place" to purchase outdoor equipment and gear.

Outdoor Brand Purchase Drivers Among Millennials

  • Retail analytics company, Edited, indicates that millennials are seeking outdoor items that are "functional and fashionable," made with "high-performance materials and products."
  • The Cowen survey found that 80% of 18-34-year olds (including Gen Z and millennials) considered social impact and sustainability "very" or "somewhat" important when considering apparel purchases. The North Face was among 5 apparel brands ranking highly among millennials for "aligning with their social values with around sustainability."
  • This article discusses the desire for "technical outerwear" coupled with a Gorpcore trend in outwear, a "common-sense approach to dressing" that is "more sustainable," as key factors driving millennial interest in outdoor clothing brands.
  • Consumers also appear to be moving toward brands like Canada Goose based on its luxury perception.


  • In this initial research, we were able to identify 5 outdoor apparel brands that millennials are drawn to, with the North Face and Patagonia rising to the top. Outdoor brand drivers among this group include a desire for performance, luxury, and sustainability.
  • Information about purchase channels typically leveraged by millennials for outdoor apparel was limited, with most resources focused on apparel purchasing channels in general and one source indicating that 20% of millennials may turn to second-hand stores when purchasing outdoor gear [it is unclear whether apparel is part of this definition]. Information suggests millennials are leveraging Amazon, social channels, and potentially second-hand stores for apparel purchasing in general.
  • The definition of millennials varied slightly across sources but generally ranged from 26-40.
  • Further research recommendations are based on the information that was already uncovered in early research (outdoor apparel brands favored by millennials and some purchase drivers among millennials). To build on the purchase drivers we provided in early research, we are recommending a deeper dive into millennials' preferred outdoor apparel brands to understand how the brands are crafting their messaging and communicating with their target audience.