Getting to ISPO was a bit of a challenge this year, due to long lines of lorries and piles of snow occupying one lane of the Brenner Autostrada, followed by the slowdowns as vehicles crept through the Austro-German border and heavy snowfall in Southern Bavaria. The snow and intense cold made it a test of fortitude and iron will to cut across the Munich Messe courtyards in order to get quickly from one immense hall to another….needless to say, not that many people lingered to check out the Nordisk tents that occupied part of the outdoor area….
Most of the major outdoor clothing and accessories brands have started paying attention to sustainability, not just from an all-important environmental perspective (what would our nature sports be without a protected environment!), but also focusing on larger circularity concepts and fair work and social issues. The increasing mainstreaming of sustainability in our sportswear and equipment is a positive trend, also reflecting the fact that consumers have started demanding more from their products than just functionality, performance and good appearance. There are brands like Patagonia and Schoeffel that pride themselves on their lifetime product repair services, understanding that the message of reuse rather than replacement may actually sell more clothes—or make their customers feel better about spending the extra euros on such products.
The message of sustainability was also seen in the new materials that have come on the market—one example is “THINDOWN” the world’s first and (as of yet) only down fabric that is 100% made in Italy. The fabric can be used in the place of poly-based fibre fillings in puffy jackets and winter clothing. THINDOWN is made entirely of down fibres from ducks and geese and can even be made with recycled down (THINDOWN RECYCLED), consequently is a 100% natural and biodegradable fabric that numerous clothing manufacturers are starting to incorporate. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try any products incorporating the fabric, it apparently has outstanding performance in terms of lightness, warmth, moisture wicking, comfort, breathability and thermal insulation.
While we are on the topic of down, Alliance Down has set a standard for the sourcing of down from ducks and geese which ensures that the animals producing the natural fibres were not mistreated. In fact, all of the Alliance down standard product comes from the food industry, mostly from China, but also from Europe. No live plucking is allowed
Another type of product that was made with a new material and won an ISPO award this year is the KUPILKA® outdoor cup. Made in Finland, using a Kareline® Natural fibre composite (plastic+wood) that is apparently carbon neutral, manufactured using renewable energy, the product is dishwasher safe, light and durable and the hot drink in the cup won’t burn your fingers. While a far cry from some of the sleek water bottles and high-tech drinking cups offered by other manufacturers, the cup has a certain primitive charm (it would not look out of place in Oetzi the Iceman’s lair or in a rustic alpine hut).
We all need to do everything we can to save the planet. Sustainability is key. The outdoor industry is leading the way in sustainable products. A growing number of companies have a sustainable culture and the sustainable wave is spreading worldwide. As consumers become more aware of sustainability, demand for sustainable products will become mainstream.
by: Julia Culver