Not to be outdone by Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 taking place in two weeks in Salt Lake City, OutDoor Friedrichshafen previewed outdoor gear, apparel, accessories that will arrive at retail in Europe and beyond for Spring 2016.

We come here to see the trends because, for the most part, they start here and we like to be ahead of the curve. And while I did not see any outstanding innovation, the incredibly bold bright colors and fashion flare did not disappoint.

Fun, Whimsy, Enjoyment and Making It Count

The differences between this show and Outdoor Retailer in the U.S. are many, but the most glaring is the way product and information is presented. Here, there is a certain lightheartedness that is obvious in booth displays, fashion shows, the dining venues and the inclusive attendee experiences including a slack lining pool and the W.L. Gore & Associates beach between the exhibit halls. Here, the pure joy of the outdoors seems to be front and center, not the lone attempt to ascend the highest peak.

Big Bear


Stackline Tools

Schoffel reminded us to get away from our desks by putting offices in the entry way of their booth: “From meeting to meeting, from appointment to appointment, from filing cabinet to Internet, from desktop to workshop, you will take 150 million steps in your lifetime – make more of your steps worthwhile.”

And we can’t forget the incredible fashion shows looking like they are right off the runways in Paris or Milan.



The show is narrower in focus than OR (fewer brands on the sideline, e.g. energy bars, dog accessories, yoga mats or Croakies), yet abundant in energy – maybe that has something to do with the vast quantities of espresso being served, not to mention the Prosecco.

Established Iconic Brands Work in Tandem with Upstarts To Keep Things Fresh

Of course the anchor outdoor consumer brands were here, but there were a number of new entries in the marketplace that adeptly and creatively combined fashion, performance and detailing that I had not seen before. Top on my list is a brand called Maloja, abrand that has chosen the theme “rock” for climbing and “role” for cycling for Spring 2016. This brand, using distinct fabrics and established component brands, could be a target for Paragon in New York or specialty stores in Aspen or Vail.



Component Brands Are Driving Designs and Enabling Brand Partners to Enter Into New Categories Being Driven by Consumer Demand

The component giants, e.g. PrimaLoft and W.L. Gore & Associates, were here forging stronger partnerships with their brand customers. Their technologies for warm weather, e.g. Gore-Tex Surround Footwear, and PrimaLoft Silver Active, continue to play a larger role in product design, as consumers around the world are asking for more versatility and style from their apparel and footwear. After relaunching the brand about two years ago, PrimaLoft is seeing solid momentum with both Performance Down Blends, and by Fall 2016, will likely have over 50 manufacturers that have adopted Active.



PrimaLoft Booth

Sustainability, Authenticity and Innovation are Top of Mind for Consumers

But back to the trends. Here at the show, there was the Hall of Vision, which predicted that there are three themes to watch according to the “Trendbook: Outdoor2Go”: Sustainability, Authenticity and Innovation.

Sustainability: “Brands today produce in a sustainable manner and consider the whole production chain from the fiber though to the textile. Recycling old materials is essential to rid the environment of ballast.”

Authenticity: “The coming generation (and the next consumer), asks, What endures in our fast paced digital world? What does the future look like? Where will the journey take us and what role do I play in it?”

Innovation: “Innovations are the soul of outdoor products. Nowhere else do we need more performance based on fabrics, materials and materials. Outdoor will continue to grow, albeit in a different direction. Ecological innovations are required. Not everyone needs everything. We need appropriate finishes suited for the urban lifestyle as well as the 8,000m peak in the Himalayas.”

Color Color Color

  • Inspired by nature with tradition standing next to modernity.
  • Typical outdoor color catches the eye, such as deep burgundies, dark blues and rich green.
  • Trend is away from color blocking to focus on new harmonies.

Four Key Trends Specifically

City Life & Travel: “Meetings all day, deadlines. Everything always needs to be quick, as if in a constant race against the clock. We are in the city but we long for tranquility — which is why we seek out green oases, nestled between city buildings or an outdoor climbing wall or a climbing gym, a green field or the waterfront to alleviate stress or go for a run.”

“Urban outdoor apparel is more than a trend; it is sensible apparel. It is what manufacturers call their lines that meet the requirements of both city life and traveling — clothing for active people pure and simple.”


City Life and Travel

Mountaineering & Climbing: “Mountaineering and rock climbing require experience, great athletic abilities and keen technical knowledge to maintain safety. Alpinism has its own rules, requires serious equipment and functional clothing. Focus here is classic clothing systems, a sensible multilayer look and coordinated features that complement each other to keep the body warm in ice cold temperatures and dry in hot weather. In this category, styles and silhouettes change only marginally and best in class technology is required.”


Mountaineering & Climbing

Trail Running & Biking:“The trail running boom continues unabated. Trail and mountain running have become athletic alternatives to road races, competitions and even marathons. Apparel must be lightweight and abrasion proof with functional hybrid designs for jackets and waistcoats with intelligent ventilation holes. It’s all in the details.”

Trail Running and Biking

Trekking & Hiking: “Hiking is an escapade where speed is of no consequence. We ramble along hiking trails, enjoy blue skies and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Trekking is the trend, however. When all belongings are carried on the back, hikers and trekkers must limit themselves to the bare minimum. Clothing must protect from the wind, keep sudden rain showers from soaking the body and balance the fluctuating temperatures early and late in the day.”

Trekking and Hiking

The Chosen Direction

According to “The Trendbook”, manufacturers have evolved to develop new functional materials and with good reason. Waterproofing, breathability and moisture wicking are no longer enough to impress consumers. The buzzwords for Spring 2016 are top functionality with aesthetics, feel, lightness and wear comfort. A soft, natural feel is now expected to go hand in hand with performance materials and have a pleasant natural fiber look. And all of this has to be manufactured as sustainably as possible, with long lasting, eco-friendly product made in fair working conditions.

You can see the progress here and my guess is that we will absolutely see this at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, as American consumers want the same thing – apparel that more than does its job, excels in the worst conditions, whatever they are, looks great and is eco-sensitive.

And not only will you see this “less is more”concept in apparel, you will see this trend in gear across the board, which has to be lighter, easy to transport, incredibly easy to set up and take down, is mobile friendly for fast getaways and is green, green green.

In the U.S. however, there is one more trend worth noting – the talked about responsibility by the outdoor industry of appealing more to the main stream, working with mass retail distribution outlets.

The Last Word?

Regardless of fluctuating currencies, world heartbreak, weather disasters, major mergers and acquisitions, Greece’s nightmare, or U.S. politics, including the upcoming presidential election, the outdoors, no matter what your definition, provides solace for most human beings trying to get through their daily lives.

It seems to put a big smile on peoples faces – and that is a good thing.

See you in Salt Lake City.