Trew offers brand experience through lodging.

By Jahla Seppanen

Splash Mountain is well and fun, but active lifestyle consumers will more often than not chose a hike and microbrew over Disneyland.

And as today’s apparel, footwear and gear brands look to infiltrate deeper in to consumers’ lifestyles, we’re seeing creative marketing campaigns that lend experiences along with product.

Take outdoor and winter sports apparel brand Trew, which this past week announced branded lodging accommodations in its home town of Hood River, OR. That’s right, an outdoor brand going into the boutique basecamp business.

The Trew Bunkhouse*, which opens on a trail basis May 20, 2016, is the brand’s way of prompting an experience where seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and newbies alike can have a curated Trew weekend in Hood. The six-bedroom, three-bath house, which can be reserved on Airbnb in whole or in part ($225 to $750 per night) comes equipped with gear for adventure-seeking visitors to get outdoors, hit the trails, paddleboard and kite-surf. The brand will also let guests try out its latest apparel … return your rain jacket with your key, please, and like any good concierge, the brand has curated dining, drink and entertainment recommendations for local establishments including where to find the tastiest tacos, strongest cold brew and best beginner bike loop.

The concept of a branded accommodation and entertainment experience isn’t new. Disneyland is one big brand infusion, and even down the road in Portland, OR, local brewery McMenamins is famous for its hotel/bars, located in venues from an old neighborhood elementary school to a working farm.

The idea is to provide a complete branded lifestyle when consumers are at their happiest — on vacation. For Trew, it’s about delivering what it’s like to live and breathe the active lifestyle.

John Pew, one of the three Trew founders, used to have a house close to the river where the brand would host its friends who stopped into town en-route to their next adventure. If you’re an outdoorist, odds are you can envision a similar stay of your own. Trew’s initial visitors were comrades of the mountain who would buy from the brand’s first store – an RV the gang took to ski areas before they had hangers and tags to call their own.

“It’s an ode,” said Erin Brosterhous, marketing rep for Trew. “A way for them to tip their hat to their heritage.” It’s smart marketing, too. Airbnb, where the Bunkhouse rooms are available, has 60 million users with 500,000 booking a room per night. Tack these favorable numbers to the trend of more people making last-minute weekend vacations to trendy small towns, and Trew may have hit marketing gold.

Although the first weekend at the Bunkhouse is the only one official on schedule for the brand, the goal is to have more dates in the future.

What SGB discovered in our exploration of this outdoor animal house was that its opening aligns with another big brand announcement. Known as a winter brand, Trew is in the process of launching a year-round product cycle in Spring 2016 that will have both a Summer and a Fall line to follow.

No way. The Bunkhouse reveals itself as a smart marketing strategy that gets the ethos of Trew to new and established consumers, while introducing three new seasons to the fold. We appreciate the transparency. Brosterhous told SGB flat out, “It’s a way for Trew to connect with their customer in an intimate and branded way, share their lifestyle and tell their story.”

“A lot of millennial shoppers want to know their brands in a more intimate way,” she added. Trew, “of course, hopes it translates into sales, but right now there isn’t a direct line. They saw it as, it’s a cool place to stay, and you get to try out all the gear you want.”

In the outdoor world, free gear and taco recommendations are worth more than a photo with Mickey and Pluto.

*For more information on Trew Bunkhouse and to experience the beautiful Hood River, log on to

Lead photo courtesy Trew