For 4 days every January, the world’s greatest brands and manufacturers, large and small come together at ISPO (International Sporting Goods Trade Show) in Munich, Germany. The event showcases the most desirable creations and the latest innovations to retailers across the globe.
Industry-changing ideas, new technologies and products are discovered at this show and it's a key opportunity for our team of buyers to start the challenging process of selecting ranges for winter 2014/15.
The show is divided into 16 halls (each hall is the size of a football field) – you can find everything from skis to silk to tennis rackets in these halls and it’s quite overwhelming at first! Each hall is then divided into categories - snowboard, ski and outdoor brands. The brands create magnificent stands that range from the secretive (by invite-only access) to the flamboyant.
There is a serious side to the show and our buyers are under pressure to scrutinize the clothing and equipment to ensure it’s of the highest performance and quality. Even after 3-4 days of solid decision making there is still much to do.
Orders are still to be considered and finalised, skis and snowboards must be skied and ranges of clothing will be looked at many times before being confirmed – it’s a tricky process and one that our buyers take very seriously indeed.
So what can we look forward to in 2014/15? There were some stand out products at the show, trends and ideas that you’ll see on our shelves later in the year and here is a brief roundup of what was being talked about at ISPO 2014 from our buyers…
Accessories buyer Luke Scrine says:
"With an increasing number of mobile devices being used by explorers and adventurers around the world the need for unlimited, off-grid power has never been greater, so it’s really exciting to see Powertraveller stepping-up to answer this demand with the innovative new Powermonkey Expedition. With multiple power generation options including solar, wind and hand-powered crank, this is a world first in portable power generation and is set to become an indispensable piece of expedition kit."
Avalanche Airbags – In recent years there has been an increase in the number of brands offering an avalanche bag system; Mammut’s Snowpulse or The North Face’s Patrol pack. This trend continues with Black Diamond and Scott revealing two 'game changing designs'.
Steve Wells is our ski hardwear buyer with many years experience of skiing and buying and he got to see the latest skis and boots whilst at the show and had this to say:
"Custom fitting ski boots that deliver in store wow-factor is the holy grail of boot brands and they’re getting ever more impressive in the results. Shell shapes improve and so do the plastics used that can provide simple moulding techniques to deliver improved fits – without the need for mechanical tools. The Hike and Ride sector stays strong with plenty of brands giving a lot of time and space to boots with walk-mode adjustments.
"All-mountain skis continue to make the bulk of European sales and whilst nothing radical is happening for next year there are plenty of little developments, often focused on weight saving without performance loss. The smaller brands continue to drive the materials evolution and there are plenty of very impressive skis using carbon in the construction."
On Outdoor clothing and footwear, our Purchasing Director, Richard Shepherd, was impressed by what he saw with the strongest innovations being in materials rather than brands - down and synthetic blend insulations, that offer speedier drying for example, and he also saw an increase in the use of water resistant down technologies too – making them better placed to cope with damp, cold environments like the UK!
"In Shells, GORE-TEX continues to dominate the market – and rightly so, although all shell fabric suppliers are being challenged to provide ever improving DWR (durable water repellency) despite recent restrictions on treatments that can be used, as suppliers are pushed to develop a more environmentally friendly approach to production.
"Colours are calming down for Autumn 2014 too, having seen some radical colour mixes in the past two winters, driven by brands like Norrona, which couldn’t get any brighter!, have now begun to swing towards colours that will look great in seasons to come, still saturated brights in some cases, but not so harsh on the eye.
We saw a good amount of outdoor footwear innovation too, with footwear becoming lighter in weight, whilst offering the same, if not better performance in use. Sole and upper bonding technologies improve season on season, allowing precise control on flex and foot stability, plus sole patterns become more evolved for even better grip on difficult terrain."
On ski and snowboard clothing our buyer Dave Whitlow has over 30 years of buying experience and was impressed with next year's collections:
"Athletic form-flattering alpine skiwear is still the major trend for next winter and new collections from Salomon, Eider and Spyder deliver a great choice. Backcountry is also a major theme for next season and whether engineered for true big mountain terrain or 'backcountry influenced', these easy-to-wear styles also offer great slope to street wearability."
Obviously our buyers don’t want to reveal everything just yet - it's nice to keep some of the surprises secret until the new season starts - but you can guarantee that the Ellis Brigham focus continues to be based on the selection of the world’s best, most desirable mix of mountain sports clothing, equipment and footwear to be found anywhere. We’ve done the hard work for you, selecting only the elite ranges, products and brands, meaning anything you buy from us is high quality and high performance.
Put simply, if it doesn’t make the grade you won’t be seeing it in our stores!