Hot Takes from OR+SIA, Part 2

It’s far from a scientific study, but we have some indication of how the move from Salt LAke to Denver impacted the number of retail buyers coming to the show. Every OR show for the last several years, a few thousand attendees have stopped by the Inside Outdoor booth to spin our prize wheel and get their badge scanned. This year in Denver, 37% of visitors to our booth were registered as retail buyers. This percentage is down slightly from the past several years, which tends to hover around 40% with a high of 43% retail buyers at OR Winter 2015. Again, this is just a random sample, and may not be reflective of the entire show attendance (just those that came by our booth and elected to spin the wheen for a prize), but for what it’s worth, retail buyer attendance seems pretty much in line with the past.

A recurring theme at the show — along with women’s leadership and the expected focus on sustainability and public land issues — was the influence of 1980’s styles and colors (as well as some 1990’s influences). That includes graphics reminiscent of 1980s motorcross and video games, a “punk edge,” counter cultural mentality, the return of baggie (MC Hammer) pants, and bright traditional colors. It also includes a comeback of the “dirtbag climber” sensibility, a longing for “authentic,” and a resurgence of the “extreme outdoor” experience.

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Elsewhere, there are some who are signaling the end of the twice-a-year buying cycle, replaced by some type of quick turnaround or “on-demand” inventory . And there is certainly some pushback to “fast fashion,” which is leading to excess inventory and a feeding of landfills.

There was also some indication that women are dominating the design of outdoor apparel. At the very popular and highly informative, fast-paced Promostyl session on apparel, textile and fashion trends, the audience of designers and apparel line managers was 90% women, if not more, by unofficial count. But a picture is worth a thousand words:

Stay tuned for some cool product introductions …