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Beyond the dazzle at ISPO 2016

Adrian Wilson

ISPO is a useful place to discover new textile trends, performance materials and fabric innovations based on advanced processing and design.

1st February 2016

Adrian Wilson
 |  Munich

Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable, Protective

ISPO, the Winter sports apparel and gear show which has just taken place in Munich, Germany (from January 24-27), is a vibrant event which befits its role as a showcase for high-end brands who more often than not, rely heavily on a combination of image, differentiation and customer loyalty to justify the price of their products.

Beyond the surface dazzle of the brands, however, it is also a useful place to discover new textile trends, performance materials and fabric innovations based on advanced processing and design. Show organiser Messe Munich is extremely good at signposting these through various showcase sections, including its ISPO Awards, ISPO Trends and ISPO Brand New areas.

The ISPO 2016 Product of the Year was deemed to be the AVA avalanche airbag manufactured by Germany’s Ortovox. At a weight of just 640g, and with a volume of 1.8 litres, this is now the world’s smallest and lightest of such systems, made possible by a new seamless airbag welding technology and a reduced, closed venturi unit which keeps out dirt, ice and corrosion completely. Ortovox has also recently introduced some very nice apparel ranges which are based on a combination of Toray’s Dermizax NX laminate  – currently the benchmark in this industry – and nonwoven insulation produced by Germany’s Baur Vliesstoffe from the wool of Swiss black sheep. The result is a winning combination of modern, clear ultrasonically-bonded lines and traditional wool embellishments.

The ISPO 2016 Product of the Year was deemed to be the AVA avalanche airbag manufactured by Germany’s Ortovox. © ISPO

The ISPO Trends area breaks down the layers of sports apparel to examine what’s in each and discover interesting new fabrics. In terms of membranes, Portugal’s LMA was singled out for its development of a product based on regenerated cork and hydro-repellent yarns in a pique fabric. For outer layers, a fabric by another Portugese company, Tintex, based on 50% polyamide, 40% polyester and 4% spandex in a 700gsm double knit construction was highlighted, while in mid layers, Trueway of South Korea’s two-tone 239gsm brushed jacquard fleece took the spotlight. For base layers there was a recommendation for the 90gsm jacquard construction of California-headquartered Global Merino, while the 100% polyester nonwoven Thermore Stretch impressed as a high-end insulation at 100gsm, with four-way stretch.

Thermore was promoting its Thermal Booster technology, which has been scientifically-proven to become 20% warmer as the temperature drops. © ISPO

Thermore was also promoting its Thermal Booster technology, which has been scientifically-proven to become 20% warmer as the temperature drops. It is based on a proprietary ‘fibre migration system’ that activates in crucial zones of the material within a jacket construction, and as such, is not reliant on battery-driven heating or phase change materials and can be machine washed without affecting performance.

As far as the ISPO Brand New section was concerned, 2016 key trends were identified as Virtual Reality – with devices that are on the verge of changing the perception of many sports activities – and unsurprisingly, Wearables. Athleisure, however, was also said to be growing, representing the increasing crossover of functional fabrics and sports styling into everyday apparel.

Portugal’s LMA was singled out for its development of a product based on regenerated cork and hydro-repellent yarns in a pique fabric. © ISPO

Notable, was the Arquas range of polyamide-reinforced denim activewear fashions being exhibited by Isko, part of Turkey’s Sanko Group.

“This is a lifestyle direction that isn’t a passing fad or seasonal trend,” said fashion forecaster Louisa Smith at the show. “It’s a lifestyle direction and consumers are increasingly buying in to fashion-based products with the added value of performance.”

Fedas, the European sporting goods retailers’ federation, reports that the market increased by 2.5% in 2015, which is unusual in that no mega-events such as an Olympic Games or World Cup were held last year.

Arquas range of polyamide-reinforced denim activewear fashions was exhibited by Isko. © ISPO

Intersport International – which has around 850 shops involved in Winter sports across Europe and works with around 5,400 stores in total – reported even bigger growth of 5.1%, pushing its sales to over €11 billion. The company’s CEO Franz Julen has observed that this bodes well for 2016. Sales in January have already been in double-digits as a result of the very good winter weather conditions, and the UEFA Footbal Championships, in which the company will be very actively involved, will provide a further boost.

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