Having just returned from Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, Grab ‘N Go is clearly the mantra for the modern outdoors – especially for an industry that is smack in the middle of a robust, dare I say, monumental evolution.
Regardless of the product, it better be easy to carry and set to up (think hammock in your back pocket), incredibly versatile, encompass the comforts of home, have a traceable and sustainable supply chain, offer UPF and odor capture technology, have an insulated beverage cup holder, look great on a runway, be rich in color and, oh by the way – showcase the best in class technology via a mobile app in 30 seconds or less. Now is that so much to ask?
Apparently not. Manufacturers are stepping up to the plate to meet this revolution because they have no choice. Whether it be an apparel manufacturer or gear brand, if they don’t accommodate this rising tide, they will quickly be left in the dust. The old definition of the outdoors has been kicked in the butt and is not likely to return any time in the near future. It is gone for good.
Today’s outdoor consumer wants everything his or her way and they want it now. Sally and John are more likely to engage in several activities in one day and want to look damn good while doing it. More importantly, they want to be able to grab a beer or their favorite class of Chardonnay at their bar without having to change clothes after they indulge in their outdoor passion.
And right alongside of them are the “casual consumers” that simply purchase the footwear and apparel, but actually never use it for its intended purpose. It doesn’t really matter why they use what they purchase, because they too are driving the market forward.
Here is our take on the trends – enjoy the read:
Homegrown adventures: Consumers are not traveling far for their outdoor experiences; they are going to the neighborhood park or their own backyard.
Gear and apparel are multifunctional: Specific purpose gear and apparel is a thing of the past.
Athleisure Approach Is top of mind: Athleisure approach is more of a reflection of the way people live and work today.
Outdoor Experiences Include the Comforts of Home: Glamping is alive and well. A key trade for the outdoor industry said, “camping does not need to be a suffer fest.”
Perfect Fabrics Are Standard Operating Procedure: Designers are paying attention to performance attributes more than ever and incorporating technology info fashion.
Athleisure Merging with Outdoor Apparel Along with Its Attributes: Consumers want and are asking for comfort, cooling, stretch, breathability, chemical free fabrics and even stretch denim. They want sophisticated products.
Natural Fabrics is Key: Natural fabrics are big and being groomed for performance – there are big advancements on the eco front.
UPF Protection, Odor Control, Odor Capture and Insect Repellency Are Expected: Consumers want protection from the sun, want to smell fresh, and have Zika on their mind. They expect these performance features in their apparel and footwear.
Smart Products Engage Consumers: Smart products that engage users emotionally and physically (and are sustainable) with good looking design and mainstream price points win.
Tech + Fashion = Lifestyle: This combination results in apparel that people want to wear – this can be viewed as a sporty wearable attitude.
Increase in Social Athletic Endeavors: People are gravitating towards group events, e.g. Tough Mudder and the Warrior Dash
Color, Color, Color: Colors, bold blue, oranges, coral and greens are king, along with surprising prints.
Insourcing is Resonating: Manufacturers understand that product must get to market faster and is fostering new supply chain technologies, a radical acceleration of the supply chain equation – bringing this process closer to home.
Sustainability and Traceability Are a Must: Transparency is critical to the supply chain because consumers are indicating this is becoming a more important part of their decision to make a purchase.
Cross Industry Collaboration is Fostering Creativity: Think Google and Levi’s, Patagonia and Bold Threads and TNF and Spiber.
The Outdoor Consumer Has Four Profiles: Millennials looking for experiences, boomer weekend warriors, the core adventurer and the city dweller.
Having Less is More: Think tiny houses and apparel without all the bells and whistles.
Women’s Apparel Is Exploding and It is Fashionable: Manufacturers are paying more attention to women, developing significantly more options for the outdoors that look equally good on a runway.
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