By Chris Ann Goddard

Every January I become a trade show warrior – attending CES, Shot Show, Outdoor Retailer and ISPO. Fifteen flights, 27,600 air miles, 65 miles walked on hard floors, and 45 non-fat lattes, give or take. Why subject myself to bad airline food, countless delays and trade show exhaustion? Because, CGPR makes it a priority to stay abreast of trends. This year, what was on display both dazzled and surprised, and interestingly, showcased profound similarities in Las Vegas, Denver and Munich. This two-part series outlines high-level observations of trends in apparel, footwear and technology.

  • CES (Las Vegas) was overwhelming with big intros of the latest in 5G, AI and flexible TV screens. The show didn’t disappoint with quirky new intros including technology that folds laundry, bakes bread,and footwear that sends text messages and location coordinates to family members if the wearer falls.
  • SHOT Show (Las Vegas) saw a record number of exhibitors — more than 58,000 industry professionals attended with the number of exhibiting companies exceeding 2,400, a new record. Bluetooth technology was front and center in the tactical world.
  • Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (Denver) attracted 25,000 attendees and approximately 950 brands, celebrating a strong winter with plenty of snow showcasing a clear emphasis on sustainability and technologies to make the outdoor experience more convenient and comfortable.
  • ISPO (Munich) broke a new record for the number of exhibitors, 2,943 from 56 countries with 334 new exhibitors and four outdoor sections. Digitalization, individualization and a focus on women were key trends. Good news — there were more U.S. visitors than last year.

“Espresso version” – Top 2019 Show Trends:

Passions Are Running High at All Trade Shows: An obvious passion drives all of the communities served by CES, SHOT Show, Outdoor Retailer and ISPO – consumer electronics, homeland security/tactical, outdoor, winter sports or fashion. There was no shortage of energy and it was clear that And passion is breeding amazing innovation.

Nite Ize re-engineered the zipper to create the first toothless, self-healing and waterproof closure, conceptualized within the RunOff travel bag series

Technology is Influencing the Quality of Experience and Convenience: Regardless of the category, technology is being fused with functionality, resulting in the best in class experience for the user. Imagine a ski helmet that measures the impact on the skull if a skier falls, blue tooth technology in tactical glasses, heated jackets and gloves or the first Made in USA, toothless waterproof zipper. Smart apps were everywhere, enabling consumers to be in charge of their experience. 

Helly Hansen, Houdini, L.L.Bean, Norrøna and Vaude will debut their first styles with PrimaLoft’s technology fall 2020

Sustainability and Traceability Are Driving the Fashion Community: There was no stronger vibe in Denver and Munich than sustainable insulations and fabrics. On both sides of the pond, apparel and accessory manufacturers understand that the world of fashion has a responsibility to think smarter, be cleaner, and be more transparent. PrimaLoft garnered significant awareness for the introduction of its first 100% recycled, biodegradable synthetic apparel insulation and performance fabric. First adopters?



The Blending of Fashion and Outdoor Is Here to Stay: Outdoor brands showed beautiful tailored down skirts and clean elegant lines –reminiscent of Prada, while the fashion brands, e.g. Emporio Armani, continued their pursuit of the fashion devotee but used state of the art technology. Fashion brands want to be “outdoorable”. (We were completely awed by the Armani ISPO booth.) 

Athleisure, Outleisure and Urban Are Driving Apparel and Gear Trends: The outdoor experience doesn’t only take place in the backcountry. It can take place in the city of Denver, in Central Park, or on the streets of London. The definition of the outdoor experience continues to evolve and be inclusive. Athleisure is not going anywhere, outleisure is as strong as ever and urban dwellers are propelling designers to develop apparel, gear and accessories that can easily transition from their favorite dive bar to their local climbing gym.

To be continued….