Mega-Trend: Outdoor Clothing is Practical and Fashionable

It's chic and functional: No wonder outdoor clothing is in such high demand. These practical and casual garments have become popular for both mountain tours and everyday use around town. "Over the past few years, the entire nature sports movement has really taken off, making it a driving force for trends and fashions, " says Stefan Reisinger, Project Manager for OutDoor. Today, the international trade show features the entire range of outdoor clothing, from extreme mountain climbing gear to casual wear. OutDoor takes place 17-20 July 2008 in Friedrichshafen and is open exclusively for trade visitors.

Over 800 exhibitors – roughly 80 percent from abroad – will be represented at OutDoor 2008. Some 18,000 trade visitors and more than 800 media representatives from around the world are expected to attend this year's event. Over the past few years, the European outdoor market has grown rapidly and continuously expanded its range of products. Although the outdoor sector used to focus mainly on equipment, clothing has been rapidly gaining in importance. Nowadays, outdoor fashions do more than just meet the functionality requirements of nature sports - they are also making inroads into the world of urban streetwear and setting new fashion trends.

Clothing now occupies over 50 percent of the exhibiting area at OutDoor. "A few years ago, the focus was primarily on alpinism, expeditions and climbing - the target group was a fairly manageable number of 'adventurers' who placed top demands on their equipment, " says Reisinger. Now outdoor clothing has entered the fast lane of the industry. The innovations developed here directly benefit the world of leisure fashions. Virtually everyone enjoys spending their free time in a chic yet windproof, waterproof and breathable jacket. This has helped outdoor fashions to develop into a strong growth market with a huge market volume in Europe.

Outdoor dealers and the outdoor lifestyle market in Europe reported a 2.6-percent increase in sales in 2006 to 5.49 billion euros. Germany is Europe's largest outdoor market with 1.66 billion euros. According to a current industry analysis by consulting firm BBE Retail Experts, outdoor sales in Germany are expected to rise by nearly seven percent (over 100 million euros) by the year 2011. In the largest submarket alone, the outdoor clothing sector, experts anticipate sales to soar by nine percent over the next three years to 978 million euros. "The demand here is significantly influenced by the fashion factor. Functionality remains important, but the fashion aspect is gaining in importance, " says Hansjürgen Heinick, who wrote the current industry analysis.

At the industry's top international exhibition, nearly all the relevant brands are showing their latest collections. The clothing ranges from high-tech and functional to light and casual. No other event offers such a complete selection of products. "Functionality and fashion are merging. Today's top outdoor brands are offering fashion-oriented collections, while fashion labels are adding functional characteristics to their products, " explains Reisinger.

OutDoor 2008 has once again seen a considerable increase in the number of exhibitors compared to the previous year. Two main trends have become apparent: Established outdoor companies have expanded their stands and young, trendy brands have joined the show. In addition to the daily fashion shows, the clothing industry will be looking forward to the presentation by the IDEAS Active Sports Design Network, a designer association that is making its debut appearance at OutDoor this year. The 22 international freelance design studios in the organisation specialise in sports products and will reveal to purchasers the trends for outdoor clothing in the summer of 2009 (from the collections created by these designers for leading brands) along with the new colours for the clothing trends of the summer of 2010.

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