CGPR attended the recent Outdoor Retailer Summer Market for three days and we were impressed by the overall mood and the striking sense of optimism at the show, especially given the recent economic doomsday predictions. Attendance in all categories increased by double-digit percentages compared to Summer Market 2009 (i.e. total attendance, unique buyers, and unique stores). Exhibitor-wise, the show was sold out. Ask anyone who attended the show and the response is likely to be the same – that it was upbeat, energetic and that attendees and exhibitors both felt the future was bright.

At this veritable ground-zero for outdoor retail activity, CGPR delved through the infinitesimal options of the menagerie to bring you some key trends that we have identified:

For footwear you are looking at the following trends:

  • Huge surge of barefoot, minimalist styles, perhaps the largest and fastest growing trend right now
  • Outdoor brands are entering the rubber boot category with great enthusiasm and tons of color
  • Light and fast is still important Color and whimsy is front and center
  • Surf/skate is penetrating the world of outdoor footwear along with boat shoe styles
  • Recovery or technical flip flops are infiltrating the marketplace
  • Sandals are becoming more niche
  • Repurposed footwear, using recycled components is surging
  • The sneaker look is definitely penetrating the brown outdoor world as outdoor brands are offering crossover styles
  • High-tech comfort is hot
  • Partnerships between heritage footwear and heritage apparel brands

In apparel, you are seeing the following:

  • Athletic dresses have become a staple for women’s lines, using technical fabrics (and hoodies)
  • Hoodies are everywhere
  • Skorts are a growing category
  • Traditional preppy still strong
  • Buzzword for next several years of textile development is “ingredient”
  • There is an influx of fashionable options for cycling
  • Outdoor brands continue to expand into lifestyle apparel (even jeans)
  • Heritage and collaboration still very strong

General lifestyle trends include:

  • Americans increasingly riding to work; urban cycling will be key trend
  • Today’s consumers are simplifying their outdoor experiences by taking shorter  but more frequent outings done in a day
  • Lighter gear more compact
  • Stand up paddling very strong
  • Apparel and footwear manufacturers are adapting their lines specifically for commuting
  • Bleisure (business and leisure) travel is growing as Americans looking to pack more into their daily lives; having apparel and footwear that can serve both purposes will be important, e.g. “sheakers”