In its core, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is a business trade show. Over the course of several days, manufacturers display products inside Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center to buyers for retail stores who must decide what to stock on their shelves. However, the products alone do not compose the entirety of the Outdoor Retailer experience. In fact, the products are merely a small segment of the Outdoor Retailer experience. What truly makes this trade show special are the people and storylines behind the brands that influence the products that consumers will soon see on retail shelves.
Reflections on ORWM…
As always, once our team returned home from Salt Lake, we took some time to reflect on our time at this winter’s show. Last week, we posted our Best in Show awards which point to some of the newest and most unique products poised to hit the shelves in 2014. However, at the end of the day, it’s often the untold stories that not only leave the biggest impact, but remain the true influences behind what you see on the shelves and wear on the trail…
Sierra Designs Brand Relaunch
In an industry often rife with hype and hyperbole, essential purpose and function can at times get lost in a sea of technical jargon and jumble. In the midst of the mayhem, Sierra Designs has taken a cross-grain, counter industry approach. Going well beyond a simple rebranding effort, Sierra Designs has spent the past two years refocussing and redefining the brand by reimagining their gear and apparel offerings for 2014. In short, they’ve stripped it all back down to the essentials which is great news for backpackers and hikers alike.
Despite all the industry hype, there has actually been very little new thinking when it comes to backpacking gear and apparel. So this iconic outdoor brand set out to provide backpackers with true innovation and real solutions for backcountry comfort and performance. Through the process, the minds at Sierra Design have challenged every bit of conventional wisdom as it relates to clothing, shelters and sleeping bags. The result is a reinvigorated line of purpose driven gear the outdoor enthusiast will love.
KEEN Partners with Veterans Expeditions
Ask anyone who’s ever attended, and there’s no doubt that they’ll make note of the daily Happy Hours at Outdoor Retailer. Every day right around 4pm the frantic buzz of meetings and appointments starts to slow as the proliferation of steel pints, foamy pours and social merriment begins to pick up. With limited exceptions, every brand hosted Happy Hour benefits a worthy cause which is supported through the purchase of reusable steel pints.
Perhaps our favorite stories from this year’s show was KEEN’s partnership with Veterans Expeditions. Founded by Keen Ambassadors and National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, Stacy Bare and Nick Watson, Veteran’s Expeditions is a Veteran Led organization that gets veterans outside to climb mountains, run rivers and explore the backcountry. Not only does it build community, but it helps veterans overcome challenges associated with military service. We would encourage everyone to learn more Veterans Expeditions, and their partnership with KEEN through their website.
adidas Outdoors entered the US market in the fall of 2011 with its line of outerwear, base layers and footwear for men and women and an extensive footwear line for children and infants. The German athletic footwear and apparel brand, which keeps its North American headquarters in North Portland, Oregon is continuing a massive and impressive push into the outdoor market.
The outdoor category for adidas has been growing at an impressive rate. In large part the growth is directly attributable to the fact that their Road Map has been consistent and authentic, and resonates with the passionate outdoor enthusiast. In a sea of plug and play outdoor products, adidas Outdoors displayed a range of new products demonstrating their commitment to new technologies and unique designs. From PrimaLoft Performance Down blend jackets to speciality footwear that fits every and any outdoor niche, this brand is set to impress outdoor enthusiasts.
Champion & Duofold Join Forces
As the saying goes, sometimes two heads are better than one. So when two brands merge bringing together over 100 years of innovation in performance apparel, it means good things are on the horizon for the consumer. A case illustrated by the recent merger of the Champion and Duofold brands, who’s partnership will manifest itself in an athletically minded lightweight layering system for Fall of 2014.
The forthcoming Duofold Varitherm Performance Base Layers and Champion Performance Max blends the best of both brands to offer comfortable warmth in cold weather. Even for our self-professed merino wool advocates, the new Varitherm layers have been impressive and offer an affordable performance alternative for outdoor enthusiasts who want to be penny-wise but not performance foolish.
Icebreaker Merges Merino Wool & Art to Protect Winter
Icebreaker, the New Zealand company that pioneered the outdoor merino wool apparel category, has partnered with British artist Simon Beck who creates intricate, awe-inspiring artwork using a vast snowfield as his canvas. The partnership marks the launch of Icebreaker’s new “The Art of Nature” product series, an ongoing, annual collaboration with artists who respect and work in nature, and who use objects found in nature in their work.
The collaboration will include twenty garments with Beck’s designs, all of which were created as he walked in the snow of the Alps with snowshoes and compass. What makes the partnership truly unique however, is that a dollar from the sale of each of these beautiful merino pieces adorned with Beck’s design will be donated to Protect Our Winters (POW), a leading global non-profit dedicated to engaging and mobilizing the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. By teaming up with Protect Our Winters, Icebreaker underscores their commitment to sustainability and actively joining in the battle to protect and preserve Earth’s winter playgrounds.