With a little over 2 months until ISPO 2016, I thought I’d list some of the brands who I think will be worth checking out at the show. You could just take a look at the ISPO award nominees and winners to get an idea but sometimes it’s not an individual product that is necessarily significant but the overall concept or feel around a brand.
Anyway – here are the brands I reckon will be worth checking out in Munich at the end of January.
Let’s start with a biggie. The really big brands in our industry tend to wax and wane. They’re always there but form comes and goes and sometimes some of the big players are more relevant than others. Patagonia are on form right now, for sure. Last winter the Nano Air Hoody dominated apparel media, this winter the snow clothing is looking really strong and the Jumbo Wild story is everywhere.
For such an established brand to shine in the way it currently is – from both a product and media perspective – is testament to what I presume is ongoing good decision making within the bowels of the company. There are many brands out there that are similar to Patagonia in terms of size and resources at hand but few are shining like Patagonia are. It’ll be interesting to see what’s going on at Patagonia next year – I’d be willing to bet things are still looking good for the California based brand.
Another North American company – Smith are in the ‘optics’ dog fight and have started to catch my attention recently. Many eye wear brands successfully mix technical performance with a lifestyle vibe. I’m not sure Smith do this better than anyone else but I do think they offer something extra – something solid.
Smith produce at least some of their eye wear in America – a real challenge to the ‘it’s expensive ‘cos it’s brand X but actually it’s made on the cheap and won’t last very long’ kind of comment. Smith changed their logo recently to great success and the brand as a whole is looking and feeling really strong. They have history to draw on and a number of successful and highly thought of products in the winter market place like the I / O Goggle. Defo one to keep an eye on.
Jones Snowboards had a relatively small stand at ISPO 2015, it was more of a booth, really. Yet every time I wandered past (and that was quite a few times) the stand was busy and there were always people floating around the flanks, trying to catch a word or get a selfie with Jones himself.
Jones Snowboards are so relevant in snowboarding right now for a few reasons. Firstly, a wide age range of riders can relate to Jones himself. Second, backcountry snowboarding and splitboarding in particular has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years (something, incidentally, that Jones Snowboards have played a huge part in creating). Thirdly Jones are embracing the massive surf inspired movement that’s running through snowboarding at the moment. One of the most exciting products from ISPO 2015 was the Storm Chaser board that was shaped by Jones alongside legendary surfboard shaper Chris Christensen. For 2016 I’m sure Jones Snowboards will continue to grow and for any snowboarders at the show their stand is an essential visit.
There are soooo many Merino brands out there nowadays eh? Mons Royale are the ones to watch though. Like most Merino brands they claim a strong connection to New Zealand and in this case it’s fully justified.
Mons Royale have a big presence in the ski and snowboard markets and have strong, progressive branding and products that cross boundaries with ease. They also add a little spice into the baselayer market which, considering this is underwear we’re talking about, is no bad thing to do.
Last year Black Crows unveiled their first foray into outerwear, alongside the usual line of freeride skis. It was another chapter in the brand’s story that should, given a little time, see them break new ground from a commercial point of view.
Black Crows are a brand that make great skis – skis that get people talking. They are also impossibly cool. They seem to be able to remain aloof whilst at the same time maintaining a certain self-effacing humour to their identity. They’re kind of cool and uncool at the same time, which makes them all the more cool. It should be interesting to see what the brand have to show in January.
I’ve got to be honest – I’m not 100% sure Arcade will actually be at ISPO but if they are, go check them out. As far as I’m aware there isn’t another belt brand within the outdoor market and Arcade have filled the gap really nicely. Although just a small accessory, I’m convinced that the humble belt is under represented as a product within our trade.
The company is owned and run by pro skier Cody Townsend who wanted to make belts to wear whilst skiing that looked good but most importantly worked really well. Arcade Belts are stretchy and durable and work well even when wet. As you’d expect they also look cool and have a strong brand identity.
ISPO 2016 will be held in Munich from 24th – 27th January 2016.