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Tell me about Stellar Equipment.

cantunamunch

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I didn't really have a need for any clothing. But Stellar have been pushing their ads onto my media feeds (quite aggressively at that), and the styling and cut looked half decent.

1699562689015.png



And then I saw the aerogel pants. I have a thing for aerogel anything.

1699562849849.png


So. Tell me about Stellar. What am I missing. Or not.
 
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Dfish

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They pumped a bunch of ads into my feeds last year and I looked into them too. I couldn't find out much about them. The reviews I did find seemed fairly positive, prices seem a bit high for a direct to consumer product.

I've been meaning to buy their down pants for a while.https://www.stellarequipment.com/product/m-ultralight-down-pants2-blublack/
 

bob.knox

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I've bought coats and midlayers from them (including that shirt shown above) over the past 4ish years. Absolutely love every piece and it wears like iron. They are under the radar at the moment. If you are looking for very technical gear (materials, construction, form) at a reasonable (for high end gear) price, then Stellar is the one for you. Can't go wrong.
 

chris_the_wrench

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And then I saw the aerogel pants. I have a thing for aerogel anything

Per usual your probably one or two or maybe even three generations ahead of me… Aerogel? Sounds like early 90’s hairstyling product, but I apparently don't know what i don't know…
 
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cantunamunch

cantunamunch

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Aerogel? Sounds like early 90’s hairstyling product, but I apparently don't know what i don't know…

By odd coincidence, that's about right for when the first semi-affordable silica ones started coming out. :)

But they were brittle AF - any sort of constant vibration or rubbing would have reduced them to silica dust and so they were useless for body worn applications.
 

Analisa

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Overpriced. But surgical precision cutting their costs based on gaps in common customer knowledge while nailing all the things customers know and value.

For example, their Stretch Down Hoodie is $349 for 750 fill, 420g (14.8 oz) total. But they use duck down instead of goose down. Geese are larger and are more mature when they're taken for food (all down is a byproduct of the meat market), so they're more likely to have high fill power down clusters. I've personally never seen another brand market 750 fill down. Most reputable brands (Rab, Patagonia) have 700 fill power as the break point where lower fill powers use duck and higher use goose. It's a yellow flag to me as a consumer. And if they did get duck down, it could be *much* cheaper for consumers. Humans eat way more duck than geese, which is why REI can offer a 650 fill down jacket for around $100, but their 850 fill Magma is 2.5x more expensive. Compare that to, say, the OR Hemisphere. MSRP is $40 less. It uses an 800+ fill goose down. It also has more fill weight even though it has a higher fill power. The Helium weighs 15.4 oz. Plus, it has a Pertex Quantum face fabric & lining, which is really water / oil / tear resistant. They're also paying the Pertex licensing. The Helium also has this raglan-sleeve style shoulder panel vs a standard set-in sleeve for the Stellar. That costs a lot more from manufacturing & sewing (not to mention, the panel's ripstop. Mixing fabrics always adds cost, but OR believes in extra durability there). OR has a third pocket, and pockets add production cost. OR's also paying for bluesign certification on their fabrics and responsible down supply chains to ensure no live plucking. Those tests and audits aren't cheap.

I'd say a fair price for the Stellar is probably somewhere around $200-275 MSRP. But the fact that they're well above that and not sharing a cut of that with a retailer (which provides the customer the ability to try-on and comp-shop brands), their margin rate is much too high.

I could do this with almost every piece in their assortment.

1700531078878.png
 

sullywhacker

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Bought the aerogel pants last year (in lieu of the down pants after a very responsive and informative email exchange with their support team) as a cold weather layer under my ski pants - now one of my fave pieces of gear
 
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cantunamunch

cantunamunch

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You're in the Midwest, yes? We're not as cold as you, but I would probably wear them on northern VT/NH/QC trips.

How would you describe the fit?
 

sullywhacker

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Pretty standard > I'm 5'7", 140 (so pretty average build) and got the Small (which I do for most other manufacturers) and it fits well
 

Tony Storaro

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Overpriced. But surgical precision cutting their costs based on gaps in common customer knowledge while nailing all the things customers know and value.

For example, their Stretch Down Hoodie is $349 for 750 fill, 420g (14.8 oz) total. But they use duck down instead of goose down. Geese are larger and are more mature when they're taken for food (all down is a byproduct of the meat market), so they're more likely to have high fill power down clusters. I've personally never seen another brand market 750 fill down. Most reputable brands (Rab, Patagonia) have 700 fill power as the break point where lower fill powers use duck and higher use goose. It's a yellow flag to me as a consumer. And if they did get duck down, it could be *much* cheaper for consumers. Humans eat way more duck than geese, which is why REI can offer a 650 fill down jacket for around $100, but their 850 fill Magma is 2.5x more expensive. Compare that to, say, the OR Hemisphere. MSRP is $40 less. It uses an 800+ fill goose down. It also has more fill weight even though it has a higher fill power. The Helium weighs 15.4 oz. Plus, it has a Pertex Quantum face fabric & lining, which is really water / oil / tear resistant. They're also paying the Pertex licensing. The Helium also has this raglan-sleeve style shoulder panel vs a standard set-in sleeve for the Stellar. That costs a lot more from manufacturing & sewing (not to mention, the panel's ripstop. Mixing fabrics always adds cost, but OR believes in extra durability there). OR has a third pocket, and pockets add production cost. OR's also paying for bluesign certification on their fabrics and responsible down supply chains to ensure no live plucking. Those tests and audits aren't cheap.

I'd say a fair price for the Stellar is probably somewhere around $200-275 MSRP. But the fact that they're well above that and not sharing a cut of that with a retailer (which provides the customer the ability to try-on and comp-shop brands), their margin rate is much too high.

I could do this with almost every piece in their assortment.

View attachment 216158

You know..you need to compile a list of buys/don’t buys in any category of skiing clothing and post it here. I’d totally go by your recommendations.

As you mentioned Rab-what do you think about these beauties here:


Resort skiing with thermal base layer under them of course.
 

Tony Storaro

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I didn't really have a need for any clothing. But Stellar have been pushing their ads onto my media feeds (quite aggressively at that), and the styling and cut looked half decent.

View attachment 215203


And then I saw the aerogel pants. I have a thing for aerogel anything.

View attachment 215205

So. Tell me about Stellar. What am I missing. Or not.

Any other brands that use aerogel? Super interested myself. I see Vollebak has something but I’d rather freeze to death than wear Vollebak.
 

fatbob

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You know..you need to compile a list of buys/don’t buys in any category of skiing clothing and post it here. I’d totally go by your recommendations.

I suspect that goes down under slamming stuff unprovoked. But I absolutely appreciate the insight and detail @Analisa brings. I am now edumacated about down.
 

Analisa

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You know..you need to compile a list of buys/don’t buys in any category of skiing clothing and post it here. I’d totally go by your recommendations.

As you mentioned Rab-what do you think about these beauties here:


Resort skiing with thermal base layer under them of course.

Every brand has some winners and dogs, but there are a few rules of thumb that I personally look out for (ymmv):
  • I'm skeptical of new DTC ecomm brands. Half are following some iteration of an H&M, Zara, Shein model. Products are designed for high turnover. There's a pretty significant step down from the market in terms of quality and there's an emphasis on style. Neither the product nor the aesthetic have the durability to last more than 5 years. But products are priced accordingly. A lot of my preferences here are just that they're not aligned with my shopping goals (I'm motivated by efficient long term use of my money and planetary resources). But these brands are more likely to use some less-than-transparent marketing tactics, like Montec has a legal disclaimer that the items in photography are only representative of their products. And when you compare their site photos with what's on ebay or poshmark, the real life garments aren't as sleek or crisp because low denier polyester wrinkles like mad and the stitching standards are pretty relaxed.
  • The other half of DTC ecomm brands are like Stellar that are from the 2010s, VC backed, and pitching that "we offer more value by cutting out the middle man" message. That was true for a hot second in the early 2010s when customer acquisition from social advertising was dirt cheap. That market's saturated. Privacy improvements have driven down targeting efficacy (and thus driven up costs). All those VC DTCs are pivoting - some wholesaling to retailers, some being bought out by conglomerates, and others filing for chapter 11. Middle men have existing customers. They have retail stores. They pay for a lot of inventory and take on inventory risk before they've got a true pulse on product appeal. The brands with longevity market and provide customers experiences through a diversified mix of channels. VC funding for that type of business model has pretty much evaporated. I am very curious if those market changes correlate with any recent moves made by Season or Peak.
  • I avoid anyone who isn't putting reviews on their website. The plugins are cheap and easy to integrate. They help so much with customer conversion. It's a norm for even tiny brands in the industry. I assume they're trying to hide something.
  • I avoid very small, new brands with a wide and varied selection. Stellar's about the same size as niche down goods producer Feathered Friends. When brands have economies of scale, it really pads the R&D budget. With less than 25 people on payroll, $6M in revenue, and a really diverse product assortment, they don't have the economies of scale nor the manpower to create a super unique value proposition or added innovation. Feathered, on the other hand, just needs 1 person to know a lot about down and design the same product in slightly different shapes. At a 25 person headcount, Stellar's likely outsourcing a lot of design, materials, and sourcing. Those companies tend to skew more mass market. They're making things like private label stuff for Dick's Sporting Goods while the product development team at Outdoor Research is running an R&D project for the US military. Their strengths are inevitably going to be different.

In terms of the Rab pants, they're a basic 3-layer. Nylon face. PU membrane. Not the most waterproof, but probably sufficient outside the PNWet. Overall, pretty similar to the Helly SOGN, OR Carbide, or Marmot Refuge (some minor tradeoffs between a denser polyester vs. a lighter denier nylon, or whether or not they have stretch). Rab's biggest strength is in insulation - down, synthetic puffs, a unique technical approach to fleece (vs. a heavier emphasis on fashion / casual fleece). The broader assortment really holds the status quo with the market across offerings & price. (Which is still a total "buy" in my book, especially with discounted pricing or in a fit that really works for your body type).
 

ejj

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Dec 4, 2015
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Minneapolis
Great posts here that help explain why some things cost more than others.

I'm no expert, but have had good luck with the premium brands like Patagonia and Arcteryx and Norona. I've also had great luck with the mid-level brands like OR and Mountain Hardwear, depending on the piece.

As long as the quality is decent, I buy mostly on fit.
 

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