February 16, 2010

The era of the “sky is falling” is definitely taking a back seat this year, at least from what I have seen at the most recent trade shows including SHOT, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA, and ISPO (and PROJECT this week).

At each show, compared to last year, manufacturers, vendors, buyers and media seemed fed up with the gloom and doom that was abundant at last year’s shows. Now is the time to dig in, move forward and make it happen. What did I see? I saw incredibly animated dialog, reunions, innovation, bright fuchsia, yellows, greens, fur, faux fur, fashion shows, street hockey games and coffee bars, tons of coffee bars. Most of all I saw hope.

At SHOT, during which we handled media appointments for Woolrich Elite Series Tactical, the tactical side of the show was on fire — there was strong interest in performance apparel, especially apparel that could easily transition from casual streetwear to undercover. There were over 50,000 people in attendance — security is big; hunting…well not so much.

At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, color was everywhere and the mood was lighthearted. Fashion continues to play a role in performance apparel and performance apparel is regularly crossing into the world of fashion. Outdoor activity passion remains strong as the world of the outdoors not only provides a refuge from financial woes, but also addresses the fervent desire to be healthy and fit. Bottom line was the fact that people were just glad to be there.

At SIA, which moved to Denver from Las Vegas this year, the energy was good. Despite the fact that people had to become accustomed to the new venue, the love affair with winter sports is far from over. Freeskiing and all its bells and whistles continues to lay a steady foundation for the future. Apres ski apparel was center stage along with mountainboarding and other tricks of the trade. Attendees liked having  a show close to (imagine this), winter sports venues.

And then there was ISPO, saving the best for last. The merger of winter, outdoor, fashion, apres ski, fitness and everything in between that takes place every February in Munich, this show was incredibly alive and set an attendance record with fantastic fashion shows, cappuccino machines buzzing in booths; better yet, enormous bars in booths, along with sit down restaurants, tons of music, slacklining, parmesan cheese and hunks of bread …and then of course the frequent bonjours, ciaos and guten tags. This was an international “hallelujah!” for the active sports world.

How refreshing!! I am am heartened and look forward to what is around the corner.