Alpine Parrot empowers plus-size women to stake a claim to the outdoors with the simple act of providing pants that fit.
If you’re female and you wear size 14 pants or larger, you’re not alone. More than 68% of American women are size 14 or larger. And if you are plus-size and have walked into your local outdoor store to buy hiking pants, you probably walked out empty-handed.
It’s not just that most outdoor retailers don’t carry pants larger than size 12. But despite the data, most outdoor brands don’t even make them.
Raquel Vélez, founder of Alpine Parrot, wants to change that. This week, Alpine Parrot launches a sticker campaign, “This Is My Happy Place,” as a precursor to its April Kickstarter launch of plus-size hiking pants. The brand makes pants for outdoor adventures in size 14 and up.
Here’s what you need to know about the brand, its debut product, and a fun piece of swag to get you ready for a whole new line of inclusive outdoor apparel.
Alpine Parrot Pants: Inclusive Sizing, Inclusive Model
Alpine Parrot’s pants will not only come in more inclusive sizing but in inclusive shapes too. The pants will come in two silhouettes: mountain, for women with smaller waists and bigger hips, and river, for women with a straighter figure.
Second, Vélez scaled Alpine Parrot pants to fit by basing every size on a human body of that size, not a single model. (Most clothing design starts with a fit model, and to create bigger and smaller sizes, a brand essentially puts the pattern for the model’s pants on a photocopier to increases or decrease the size.)
That’s one of the reasons a lot of plus-size clothing doesn’t fit. Just because someone needs more space in the waist or butt doesn’t mean their pant legs need to be proportionally longer.
Third, Alpine Parrot’s pants forward the brand’s mission to provide clothing that celebrates and encourages everyone to enjoy the outdoors. Alpine Parrot does it by calling out people of size and color. And as a woman of size and color herself, Vélez is acutely aware of feeling left out and uninvited.
“No outdoor brand has told plus-size and BIPOC women that we matter,” she said. “We are making hiking pants that fit plus-size and BIPOC women, pants we can feel good about, which is the first step to getting more plus-size women outside.”
I had the opportunity to touch, feel and try a prototype pair of Ponderosa pants — Alpine Parrot won’t have production pants until August. Still, they’re awesome. The high-rise pants have five smartphone-sized pockets, including one that zips, and a body-hugging, curved waistband.
The two-way-stretch nylon fabric is quick-drying, breathable, won’t pill, and is not restrictive. The forest/olive green pants have playful red highlights on the pockets, a red belt, and even red webbing with a D-ring clip sewn into the waistband.
“Women’s bodies change constantly, during the month, year, or from the bottom to the top of the hill,” Vélez said. “Assuming you’ll stay the same size is silly, so I gave these pants a belted adjustable waistband.”
Comfortable, Easy to Carry
Alpine Parrot fit tester, Kristine Mendes, wore the pants for 2 months. She said they were easy to care for and dried quickly. That proved especially convenient, as there wasn’t a day from the first time she tried them on that she didn’t want to wear them.
“They pack down super small, which will be great for future travel and backpacking,” Mendes said. “And there is some magic in the waistband that hugs my lower back, so there’s no gap when I crouch or bend over. I went from ‘I really should exercise,’ to ‘How early can I hit the trails today?’”
Way More Than Just Pants
Yes, Alpine Parrot is making pants. But for Vélez, providing plus-size hiking pants that fit and feel good are a vehicle for tackling much bigger issues.
“We see you, we know you, we are you,” Velez said. “We are the first brand to put people of color and size front and center. If we want to do the work of expanding diversity and inclusion in outdoor space, it goes hand in hand with getting rid of fatphobia.”
Velez hopes her upcoming sticker campaign and the launch of Alpine Parrot pants will spark conversation as well as a sense of belonging for people who don’t feel seen.
For now, Alpine Parrot’s Ponderosa Pants go from size 14 to 24. Vélez will expand the size range further after the launch. The brand hopes to be shipping pants by August to its Kickstarter supporters. By fall 2021, Alpine Parrot will also be available online and in select retailers.
More Sizes, More Choices
In the outdoor space, there’s a stigma around carrying plus sizes. Some brands make them, including REI, Columbia, and KUHL. But these sizes aren’t always easy to find. For example, Vélez said she can buy size 16 KUHL pants at REI.com, but not at KUHL.com.
“I want people to trust in stores again,” Vélez said. “I want a plus-size woman to be able to walk into an outdoor store and walk out with something that fits.”
On her website, Vélez calls out the outdoor industry for editing plus-size women — and especially plus-size women of color — out of the picture. “It’s time for a company to make outdoor clothing available in sizes worn by more than half the population, featuring models that span races and ethnicities,” Vélez wrote. “Alpine Parrot is that company.”
#HappyPlaceAP Sticker Campaign
Vélez has created stickers in collaboration with illustrator Elayna Speight at Inked Designs featuring plus-size and BIPOC women hiking, biking, camping, and enjoying the outdoors. Vélez is asking these communities to share the virtual stickers on social media tagged with #HappyPlaceAP to centralize the conversation.
Share your story with Alpine Parrot, and the brand will send you a free sticker in the mail (details below). Physical stickers are for sale on Alpine Parrot’s website too.
Want to join the #HappyPlaceAP campaign? Share your story, and the official This Is My Happy Place illustrations, with your friends using the hashtag #HappyPlaceAP (remember to tag @alpineparrot and @thinkinkedart).
If you submit a story between Feb. 14 and 21 and Alpine Parrot shares it, the brand will send you a free sticker. Don’t have Instagram but still want to participate? Send Alpine Parrot an email at email@example.com with your name, story, and an image that captures you in a moment of joy.