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Functional all-rounders: the new requirement for outdoor clothing

Functional clothing is on the way to being a standard part of everyday life. The outdoor industry talk is of a "megatrend”, a new "attitude to life”. It is unlikely that anything in the foreseeable future will change people’s enthusiasm for experiencing nature. The outdoor sports industry is correspondingly optimistic about the leading international fair, OutDoor, which takes place from 15 to 18 July 2010. Three key clothing themes will be highlig

7th July 2010

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Friedrichshafen

Sports/​Outdoor

Functional clothing is on the way to being a standard part of everyday life. The outdoor industry talk is of a "megatrend”, a new "attitude to life”. It is unlikely that anything in the foreseeable future will change people’s enthusiasm for experiencing nature.

The outdoor sports industry is correspondingly optimistic about the leading international fair, OutDoor, which takes place from 15 to 18 July 2010. Three key clothing themes will be highlighted this year: versatility; lightweight materials; and sustainability.

"The outdoor trend continues,” says Bernd Wodarz, Sales Manager Germany for Mammut. Like many of his colleagues, he is convinced that it will continue to develop over the coming decades. Peter Schöffel, Managing Director of the family-run company, Schöffel, explains:

"Time for leisure, hiking and travel are emotional aspirations for large segments of the population.” Stefan Rosenkranz, Managing Director of Salewa, adds, "Today people like to be seen as having active everyday lives, and identify themselves with outdoor clothing that’s increasingly combining functionality with style.”

The option of wearing functional clothing for outdoor activities as well as day-to-day is a major factor for consumers. Outdoor sports clothing offers them this versatility, while also providing added comfort and everyday lifestyle benefits such as waterproofing, breathability, moisture management, UV and odour protection.

Mark Held, Secretary General of the European Outdoor Group (EOG), the association of major companies offering outdoor products in Europe, sees the industry as having a duty. "It’s cold, windy and rainy in cities, too. City-dwellers are not immune to the weather.” It therefore doesn’t make sense for urbanites to buy non-functional clothing either. Softshell clothing is playing an important part in versatility and the possibilities are far from being exhausted. Gerhard Maier, Managing Director of Maier Sports sees "an enormously developing theme, above all in terms of retail pricing and diversity of fashions.”

A long-running issue in recent years has been the effort to develop ever-lighter functional clothing. Philip Schröer, Managing Director in Germany for Odlo explains: "Making clothing weigh less mustn’t be an end in itself; it has to offer the consumer a real benefit.

” The German Managing Director of Fjällräven, Alex Koska, is also aiming for a combined approach: "Lightweight and durable products are certainly the ideal,” he says, while identifying an opportunity for the outdoor to earn a reputation for quality.

The sustainability factor also plays a part here, thinks Christoph Bösl, head of key accounts and marketing at Arc’teryx. "Functionality, durability and aesthetics are the key criteria for long-term product use in the outdoor sports field.” This highlights the third theme of OutDoor for the 2011 season: sustainability. Environmental responsibility is seen as a major challenge for the future. And the outdoor companies are taking up this challenge at the industry association level:

"Our industry is moving quite rapidly toward a structured and transparent system of sustainable production,” Mark Held explains. "We’ve developed a concept that offers guidelines and suggests solutions to companies as to how they can implement their sustainability obligations sensibly.

” Eva-Maria Hartwich from PR and marketing at Patagonia sums up the outdoor industry as follows: "It isn’t a matter of simply producing fashion, but of manufacturing top-quality products that offer a high degree of functionality and a broad range of use. Our products should be durable and timeless. This, along with using ecological fibres, is an element that should be a given when it comes to sustainability.”

For further information, visit www.outdoor-show.com

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