The sports industry wants to get cleaner. While functional innovations were the focus of the industry just a few years ago, more and more brands are now combining innovation with sustainability.
With 16 fully booked halls, 2,943 exhibitors and-above all-lots of snow, Ispo Munich (February 3 to 6) welcomed its visitors this year. After a mixed year in 2018, the sports sector is looking to the new season with confidence. The snow, in particular, created a good mood, bringing good sales of winter sports to the trade in recent weeks. The Intersport Association (five-country association of Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), for example, reported an increase in turnover of around 13% for January at the Ispo press conference and demonstrated confidence in view of the disappointing overall result for 2018 with a drop in turnover of 1% (3% in Germany). For competitor Sport 2000, however, 2018 was "the best year in the company's history.” The main growth markets are bike and running. Outdoor and winter sports, on the other hand, have lost out–last year's too warm weather is cited as the cause.
The sports industry faces difficult tasks, not only because of unsteady winters: Functional outfits and a sporty lifestyle are playing an increasingly important role in fashion. This attracts more new competitors to the market. The common response of the sports industry to this has been innovation leadership–especially in function and sustainability. The outdoor industry, in particular, sees it as its duty to make its contribution to a healthier environment. "The industry has the opportunity to take on a pioneering role and set an example before legal regulations make the decision for us. In addition, sustainability today is simply a business model," says Arne Strate, new secretary general of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and former marketing manager at Volcom.
The rethinking manifests itself in numerous measures to sustainably change products, processes and consumer awareness. New exhibitor Tentree from Canada, for example, uses the sale of clothing only as a means to collect contributions to reforestation. "We are not a clothing company but tree planters," says co-founder David Luba. The idea finds sympathizers all over the world. The company has been able to plant more than 25 million trees worldwide through the sale of the collection alone. Fiber manufacturer PrimaLoft presented its new biodegradable fiber PrimaLoft Bio, and laminate manufacturer Sympatex promoted new possibilities to reduce the emission of microfibers with start-up company Planet Care. Shoe manufacturer Ecco also presented its new water-saving DriTan tanning technology. By introducing this innovation to the tannery in the Netherlands, Ecco aims to save more than 25 million liters of water a year.
An innovation in style was presented by the Australian luxury sports label Templa, which presented its new cooperation with Raf Simons at the trade fair. "Being conservative will not work anymore in the future," says creative director Rob Maniscalco, turning towards the traditional luxury brands in skiing. "Brands will have to listen to what the consumer wants more and more.” Many of the brands presented collections not quite as courageous, but nevertheless with a fashionable claim. Numerous brands from Wolfskin Tech Lab to Peak Performance and Houdini presented voluminous down coats. Urban, golden down jackets were presented by Mammut in its urban Delta X line as well as The North Face and Skibrand Vist. There was a trend towards more color across all segments. Neon colors such as pink played a role again, as did various berry tones for women and mossy greens for men.
The next Ispo Munich will take place from January 26 to 29, 2020. This year, Messe München is also organizing Outdoor by Ispo for the first time from June 30 to July 3, 2019.