I've tried to live up to that ideal my whole life, and when I started hunting, I applied the same standard, always aiming to shop at my local, independently owned hunting store unless it didn't carry something pretty close to I was looking for.
Going to the SHOT Show this weekend, however, changed that equation. From here on out, if there's a company that make women's hunting clothing that meets my needs, I resolve never to settle for the man's version of the clothing just because it's what my local store carries. And fellow huntresses, I really hope you'll make the same pledge.
When I was at the SHOT Show, I asked reps from a lot of clothing companies what they made for women - for hunting, not lingerie - and the answer was typically little or nothing. We already knew that, though, right?
But when I talked to the folks at Columbia, they told me they used to make a line of women's hunting clothing, and their retailers even did a great job of stocking it and promoting it, but women just didn't buy it. So Columbia pulled back - the company's not making women's hunting clothes anymore.
If I didn't know the statistics, I might've been taken aback by that. But I already knew that women hunters spend far less than the national average on hunting gear, according to the latest available stats on the matter from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
I already blogged in December about the need for huntresses to spend money if they want manufacturers to meet our needs.
But this weekend, I met the resistance: Pam Zaitz from SHE Safari. Shelah Zmigrosky from Foxy Huntress. Kirstie Pike from Prois. These are women just like us who went looking for hunting clothes, came up empty-handed and decided to do something about it and design their own clothing lines.
God bless 'em!
For Columbia, it doesn't pencil out to cater to our needs. Do you think it will be any easier for Pam, Shelah and Kirstie? Do you think they'll be in it for the long haul if we don't buy what they're selling?
Don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting you buy anything that doesn't work for you. For me, the big test is how well pants fit, and how much of a pain in the pants it will be to return anything that doesn't work, because I know I'm going to have to buy this stuff online or over the phone. In the end (sorry, didn't mean to continue the pun), if their products don't work for me, I won't buy them. This ain't charity; it's commerce.
But we have options. And if we continue buying and wearing men's clothes and complaining about the dismal fit all the while, whose fault is it that there's not much on the market for us?
In case you're wondering, no, I'm not on the payroll of any of these companies. I'm just acting on the ethic my mom taught me: Support the merchants who support me.
© Holly A. Heyser 2008