Winter sports enthusiasts all over Europe gather each year at the ISPO fair for sporting goods and sportswear in Munich. Worldwide known fair is popular even in China, where there were more than 100.000 people following the live stream past Sunday. We also attended the fair, to see what are the upcoming trends and what the competition is doing. We figured out there are four main trends that will shape the winter outerwear industry in upcoming years.
1. High-tech insulation technology
PrimaLoft® changed the outerwear insulation concept some years ago. Last year, they have introduced the ThermoPlume® insulation. It has received a lot of attention and many brands have already applied it. It is a completely synthetic and hydrophobic down alternative.
Similar to the existing PrimaLoft® Gold series, it has substantial advantages compared to down.
- Compressible, lightweight, and soft
- Warmth even in wet conditions
- Thermal output comparable to a 550 CUIN down filling
- Look and feel similar to high-quality goose down
- Using solely polyester fibers means there is no animal involved in the process
According to PrimaLoft®, they are already working on the further development of this product range, in order to adapt and respond even more to market needs. Their fast innovation will for sure reshape and guide the insulation technology in outerwear.
When selecting the optimal rain jacket, a waterproof water column would typically be the main buying criterion. This is supported by arguments like waterproof zippers and tight fit around sensitive areas like the neck, hips and sleeve ends.
Sports outerwear have membranes with a maximum of 20.000mm/H2O. Stronger enough to sustain heavy rain, wet snow, and high pressure. High-quality rain jackets usually have the highest possible waterproofness which is used as the key selling proposition.
There are » rumors « that membrane with 30.000mm/H2O is being developed by fabric innovators. Sounds pretty cool right? Imagine that soon you might be one of the first owners of a jacket with the highest waterproofness there is.
That is not something to be excited about. There is still a lot of work-in-progress. Our R&D department is not keen on using this kind of membranes so far. That would be similar to a 100% polyvinyl membrane with complete waterproofness and zero breathability. We believe that using a waterproof rating of 20.000mm/H2O and breathability of 10.000g/m2/24h is the optimum performance level of the Climate Control membrane.
3. Mountain safety
More and more attention is given to the safety of individuals in the mountains, especially from avalanches. There are a lot of new products and brands appearing each year with innovative solutions for this cause.
Avalanche essentials like shovel, sensor, and probe are still dominated by two players, Ortovox and Pieps. The must-haves they produce save many lives each year and are already quite standardized in the minds of consumers.
In the past 8 years, this has been changed with great innovation in avalanche backpacks and Recco safety technology. Firstly, ABS did a revolution in the niche of avalanche backpacks. Their product was reliable but very expensive. Competitors came up with cheaper solutions and easier restoring process, once the airbags have been activated. Orthovox and Mammut already have better solutions. This year a new player called X Reactor entered the market. Its main unique selling proposition is the automatic reload system.
Secondly, Recco has been working hard on its RECCO® SAR project. The upcoming year will be a year of expansion of its coverage to new countries and larger areas. We are certain that this product will gain importance, not only winter, also summer. They envision to position it as a standard for outdoor safety.
4. Ski touring gone wild
The basic principle of the product life cycle has four stages: introduction, growth, maturity, decline. Ski touring has been in existence for ages but has never been the »hot« thing. Since the mass phenomenon of alpine skiing in the 1950s, it has remained a sport for tough mountaineers. Now it is witnessing a high growth level, the same as freeride skiing did a few years ago.
Due to great innovation in ski touring safety and ski technologies, it has become a recreational sport. There are estimated to be around 500,000 ski tourers registered in Austria and 300,000 in Germany.
It is a winter sport for runners, bikers, and swimmers. Hikers and freeride skiers can take it as an opportunity for increasing stamina and strength in their »natural habitat«.
Tour skiers worship lightweight, breathable and waterproof products that are appropriate for demanding ascents and extreme descents. Weather in the mountains can change really fast, so technical outerwear is one of the essential safety components. Safety is also endorsed with avalanche safety gear, emergency kit, and mountain training programs. Here Recco is very likely to gain on its importance.
There haven't been any revolutionary innovations this year. We have seen many improvements in technical outerwear technologies and plans for the future. Our discoveries do not influence our R&D that much, because we are already on track with the trends.
We finished the day at our Scandinavian competitor Haglöfs, who was so kind as to offer us some snacks and delicious smoothies.