The situation in the sports market is demanding, that’s one conclusion from the latest Ispo Munich sports fair, which was held from January 24-27, 2016. The classic winter sports brands are struggling with the lack of snow, the outdoor market consolidates, and both are facing the structural changes initiated by the growing E-Commerce. To avoid at least the uncertainty of the weather, many brands and retailers are trying to establish all-season-collections and more fashion-oriented assortments which are not depending on snow. So the search for multi-functionality was prevalent in many products and collections. A ski jacket should also be suitable for the daily stroll; ski underwear can be used as homewear or even as a stylish leggings, such as seen at Peak Performance, Odlo or O’Neill. Sophisticated, multi-layered clothing systems cover a wide range of outdoor needs and can be varied as desired. So Kjus shows a box with seven items of clothing from underwear to outerwear, covering all sports and various temperature areas. Also the 3-in-1 jacket (and more) was presented in many ways. Jack Wolfskin, "Inventor" of the multifunctional outdoor jacket, presented the first Heritage Line for next winter, celebrating his first 5-in-1 jacket.

Also, Icebreaker, pioneer in the segment Base Layer Merino, tries to position its business with more fashionable pieces as an all-season product. Peter Ottervanger, General Manager Europe Icebreaker: "We also put forward Merino as a spring product, we currently see much potential in that." More urban designs and colors were another technique to fight against nature. So many brands showed a more sophisticated color palette, focusing on black, brown, burgundy and gray. In general, darker shades were selected, e.g. as seen by Mountain Force, Bogner and Toni Sailer. In terms of materials, natural fabrics like wool will still be strong, often used as Midlayers or even as padding and lining or technical outer material. Brands such as Mover use cotton in their technical skiwear and Kjus presented a down coat made of silk, in its urban line.

Bench booth at Ispo
Bench booth at Ispo


The changes in climate were accompanied by a discussion about a change in the timing of the season. Many brands and retailers are aware that the current timing in retail is far away from the consumers’ needs. Frank A. Dassler, Head of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) said: "In my personal opinion producers and distributors might reconsider the timing of product introductions." The shift between the seasons in retail and the actual weather outside is becoming even worse when the snow comes not before mid of January like the last years. In fact, the products often hang in the stores for several months before they match the weather. "That motivates neither customers nor the retail staff", Roman Stepek, CEO of Mountain Force said. Offering more delivery windows, capsule collections and stronger NOS programs, such as Brunotti, are currently discussed.

Apart from that, the fitness and health market seems to have a bright future. The ubiquitous athleisure trend brings new swing in the business and is rated by many as a future market. Not only the big players such as Adidas, Nike, Under Armour and also Lululemon are dominating the trend; there will be much more competition in the market soon, as many say. “We had an excellent year”, said for example Sean O’Brien, Senior Marketing Manager at Prana. Originally focusing on climbing, the US-brand is now into the yoga lifestyle and features a very casual, uncomplicated and versatile collection with a focus on natural materials. Also the fashion brands take the trend further. Desigual and Only Play presented their sports collections at Ispo, too.
But many consider that fitness and health will play an even greater role in future. Tobias Grober, Director of the Ispo Group: "The sports sector is just beginning to understand that they can offer new products in this area and attract new target groups. It goes away from the claim: The mountain and I. The mountain doesn’t attract the Couch Potatoes. This is a fundamental problem of the sports industry: It communicates images that are far too extreme for those who sit at home on the sofa. Higher, faster, further - blood, sweat and tears. The initial hurdle to begin or pick up the sport again is, at least by the current design of the advertising, way too high. We need to find a more gentle approach to reach a wider audience."

'Sneakerology' sneaker corner at Ispo
'Sneakerology' sneaker corner at Ispo

Despite the difficult climatic conditions this year in many winter sports regions, Ispo Munich, the world’s biggest sports tradeshow, once again attracted about 80,000 trade visitors, just like the previous edition. They were coming from 120 countries, a growth from visitors from Italy, Switzerland and Austria has been recorded, as well as a plus of visitors from Russia and Ukraine. Also the number of exhibitors has increased again: from 2,585 last year to 2,645 exhibitors now. The high foreign share of 87 percent underlines the internationality of the fair, which was with its 180,000 square meters of exhibition space spread over 16 halls, once again fully booked. Klaus Dittrich, Managing Director of Messe München, said: "After difficult pre-Christmas sales, the mood was significantly better than expected. The variety of innovations and new products, which were shown at Ispo Munich, has further strengthened the confidence of the industry to meet the current challenges posed by climate and structural change."

Impression from the show grounds
Impression from the show grounds