ISPO is a bit like an alarm clock. Every year it rings and collectively wakes up the entire sporting industry, sending a timely reminder that another year has flown by, and it’s time to showcase the next 12 months ahead.
This behemoth of a trade show takes place in the Messe complex, East of central Munich with more than 2,400 international exhibitors presenting their latest product lines. This ranges from Outdoor and Ski to Action and Performance Sports. 81,000 visitors from more than 109 countries take part. There are big brands, small brands, new brands and old brands. One minute you can be inspecting the latest effective edge snowboard technology, and the next a new hiking coat for dogs. There are cringey fashion shows, flanked by the hippest of hipsters discussing the evolution of neon. They all go to town on their brand booths and there is an air of healthy competitiveness around who can come up with the most innovative or distinctive set-up. Some simply opt for sheer scale, and others with smaller budgets need to get creative often spending sleepless nights hammering and screwing in fixtures themselves to stand out. The Quiksilver booth for example resembles a giant multi-tiered post apocalyptic nightclub, whereas the Volcom delivery opts for live bands, a midi skate ramp contest and a free flowing bar each day.
Action Sports have a huge presence at the show, and take up three hangars. Most brands that operate in this space are here regardless of the tough economic climate. From hard goods to soft goods, media owners to events, it's a networkers dream. It truly is an opportune moment to do business, with every facet of the industry represented. It’s also the one show where the US owned brands fly out their management teams. They rub shoulders with their European counter parts, discuss the latest trends, and get an all-encompassing view of the current industry landscape via panels, talks and workshops.
As with every year in this dynamic industry, some clear trends emerged from this year’s show. Primarily based around personalization of experience and technology, there is a push to get the end consumer closer to the product he or she is buying. Brand trust is important, and great experiences are key to earning this. More and more brands are sourcing flexible production techniques to be able to create both hard and soft goods to the exact specifications of the customer.
On a more ground level, roller skates seem to be making a come back! A few new brands have popped up touting these retro speed boots. They seem to have been embraced by the rockabilly community, who blend tattoos, leopard print and a rock n’ roll ethos with wheels on shoes. We're definitely backing this trend, and will actively encourage our staff to roller skate to work when at all possible.
Stand up paddle boards also seem to be a growing trend. With surfing being so dependent on the elements, SUP’s provide a fun and active alternative that can be taken to lakes as well as the ocean. Their sheer size make them difficult to travel with, something the canoe and kayak industry seem to have been observing. Totally foldable canoes that fit in a suitcase were a real talking point.
Lastly a lot of development in technology around outdoor sports was apparent. Safety was a key focus, with GPS trackers getting smarter, and avalanche safety packs making big leaps forward, especially around air bag deployment. The Go-Pro revolution continues, and more and more ‘me-too’ brands are producing variations of these camera’s, which incorporate smarter features, or unique components to get the best footage.
Vision Nine had their place at the show proudly picking up an award for their work on a feature film they concepted and produced with burn Energy Drink and Grain Media. We Ride the Story of Snowboarding picked up a gold ISPO award for ‘best brand communication film.’ The film is viewable on burn’s YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0nMxxRU6Js
Once it’s time to pack up, the show continues late into the night, with brands throwing parties all over Munich. With so much going on, it’s an exhaustingly productive and busy few days that we highly recommend. On that note, we’re off to bed, but have already set our alarm clocks for ISPO 2015…