There were sticks everywhere at the last edition of ispo, held in Munich from July 3-5.

The stick seemed to be the key equipment for the future sport. Whether Nordic Walking, Nordic Blading or the fast-forward combination of Nordic Fitness, outdoor and trail running – the industry celebrated its new and hottest trend, which captured much of the visitors attendance and energy.

Informational workshops and fashion shows offered many ways to get all into the Nordic sport styles. "There are high expectations for massive growth rates for the trend sports in the Nordic Fitness segment," said Manfred Wutzlhofer, the CEO Messe Muenchen. And on Monday night, Olympians and other competitors battled in the front hall in the Volvo Nordic Fitness challenge, which combined Nordic walking, inline skating and running.

Since last winter’s very first ispovision, a section that features "fashion inspired by sports," was criticized from all sides, customers were most curious to see the second running of the section. It was indeed much better organized and had been extensively rearranged from the first ispovision. Labels got divided in Lifestyle Categories such as "Bayside" and "Park Village" to present their products, were set up with better clarity and order. The concept also got transfered to hall A1 from former hall A6, so there was no way to miss the "new vision". The section featured higher-end brands such as Bogner, Matador, J. Lindeberg and Bally, among others.

In the boardsports-themed halls, fashion trends included superbright colors and Hawaiian inspired prints and designs from the likes of O’Neill Europe, Chiemsee, Billabong, Quiksilver and Roxy. The beach next year promises to be ablaze in in-your-face vivid pinks, yellows and blues and floral designs that redefine scream loud and bold.

In addition, several special events and competitions entertained visitors after-hours. The Sunday night showing of the Billabong Odyseey Video and Euro 2004 soccer championship match between Greece and Portugal drew thousands of attendees into the new Munich Trade Fair Centre atrium. During the GQ Style Night at ispovison on Monday, the first Global Style Award was given away. Michael Michalsky, design director of Adidas, accepted the Award for "Best Design of the Year", while Adidas Y3 line got honoured for "best brand of the year". Converse won the Global Sportswear Award for Women’s Sneaker of the Year and Dunlop Green Flash earned the Men’s Sneaker of the year. U.S. manufacturer and retailer participation at ispo increased from summer 2003 to 2004. Among the exhibitors were also three American winners of the coveted 10th ispo Brand New Award: overall winner Clear Blue Hawaii, Flybar and Surfsailing. "Ispo exceeded our expectations by far. On the first day alone we made more contacts than on all shows in the States we attended this year," said Steve Palessiro from Surfsling USA, winner of category hardware accessories. Cult Sneakers Zeha from Berlin earned the Style Award for their relaunch of former GDR trainers and the Sportswear Award went to the Australian Label Kite Chicks. The powerful and energetic BrandNew Fashion Show took place twice a day featuring all BrandNew participants in the sportswear and style categories and proved to be one of the major attractions.

A total of 1,211 exhibitors joined the estimated 25,000 visitors from 100 countries at ispo summer ’04. "In spite of the difficult economic situation, which has facilitated a careful review by retailers because of slow consumer buying, the atmosphere at ispo and forecast for future sales were surprisingly positive," Wutzlhofer said. All eyes now focus on ispo winter 2005, which will take place February 6-9.

(www.ispo.com)

— Karin Leiberg