The world’s largest sporting goods trade show Ispo was held for the 70th time from Feb. 7-10 in Munich under perfect snowy conditions. This season’s show drew more than 64,000 international visitors from 117 countries, a 7% increase in attendance. (Messe München GmbH was already forecasting before the opening of the show a growth of 5% and in all there were 2,045 exhibitors.) The number of foreign visitors grew as well by about 2% to 68%. Countries with the strongest attendance, besides Germany, included Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Korea, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

Everybody was curious to see the new Ispo Vision, which was presented in a new design and concept under the direction of Danielle De Bie, the former Bread & Butter executive. Premium sports brands there included Matador, Bogner, Kjus, Luis Trenker, Toni Sailer, and Think Pink. Wearable technology was the main theme of Ispo Vision.

The good season and the perfect mood among exhibitors and retailers could also be seen in the new numbers, with Werner Haizmann, President of the German Sporting Goods Retailers (VDS), announcing at a press conference a growth of 3.5% in 2009 to €7.3 billion. The turnover of sports retailers in Europe also grew 3% to €38.6 billion. In spite of the general crisis in retail, the sports industry and retail were able to celebrate a third consecutive year of growth.

The most important topics of the fair were new technical achievements in fabrics. Polartec presented new technology with a highly waterproof and breathable membrane, something membrane companies are pushing year after year. Stretchy but highly breathable and waterproof fabrics were also among the hot news in the collections, as well as the combination of Primaloft and down as insulation at brands like Peak Performance, Norrona and Kjus. Columbia debuted a new technology to reflect the warmth of the body. Similar to last year, safety products were especially in demand. Helmets and protectors have become absolute top sellers. Therefore, many manufacturers are investing considerably in the development of new products which, in addition to the safety aspect, also take into account the user’s demand for lifestyle features. This category alone grew about 30% in the last year, with retailers showing more interest in the field.

The subject of sustainability continues to be ubiquitious. Recycling, Bluesign-certified production, and natural materials like wool, without compromising function, were important to many collections. The young German eco-friendly brand Pyua won the second Eco Responsibility Award by ispo, together with eco-veteran Patagonia.

While new exhibitors included J. Lindeberg and Nike 6.0, Helly Hansen chose to run special events with retailers in lieu of the show; The North Face and Quiksilver were also absent for the second time. Peak Performance debuted Black Casual, a new premium line of casual sportswear, while Oakley showed its first European collection with styles for the European markets. Armada, the free-ski brand from the US, showed its second apparel collection and was more than happy with its success.

In terms of fashion trends, the overall fit of snowboard collections was tighter with tight pants and longer jackets. Colors are still lively, but not as vibrant as before. And color blocking, violet, new reds and yellows were important fashion statements for both women and men.

—Regina Henkel