The 2020 Outdoor + Snow Show brought together influential buyers, manufacturers, and innovators to see and experience the latest and best from the outdoor industry. Our Head of Research, Dr. Gayatri Keskar, provides an exclusive recap of her experience as an Outdoor Retailer presenter and judge at the second annual Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards.
I was very excited to attend the recent Outdoor Retailer last week, not only as an avid outdoor enthusiast but as a speaker and an innovation award judge. It was very encouraging to see the open culture, collaborative spirit, and continuous improvement mindset of this community that brought together more than 9,000 retail buyers and 1000 exhibitors in Denver, Colorado. My journey with OR started late last year in October when I was selected to join the esteemed panel of 20 judges for the second annual Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards. We were soon asked to evaluate 174 noteworthy entries. I must admit it was a daunting task that took multiple nights of deliberation, but experiencing the latest innovations made it worthwhile.
It wasn’t surprising that a large number of entries were centered around sustainability and brand-new products focused on enabling young families to spend quality time outdoors. In the past, the OR industry has sometimes struggled to communicate sustainability to its consumers, but in 2020, the year of transparency, it is going above and beyond with new technological advancements and seminars from industry leaders that are pushing the boundaries of performance and sustainability, while driving sales. I was thrilled to be part of this ongoing education by drawing parallels to the successes in other industries highlighted in my “New Approaches to Material Sustainability” presentation.
Some of the remarkable Innovation Award winners included: mountainFLOW, which launched North America’s only plant-based biodegradable ski wax that performs just as well as a conventional ski wax; Salomon’s Recyclable Concept Shoe, which is made completely of TPU, that can be ground down at the end of its life and then combined with pre-consumer material to construct an alpine ski boot shell; and OPTIX iMirror by Nobal powered by Allied Feather & Down, which provides multi-channel, real-time traceability for down insulation in garments.
With Optix, each cluster of down is treated with a reflective coating that can be read through the shells of the products with a dedicated IR reader. This full-length, in-store mirror can not only read the down inside a garment as a customer stands in front of it, but it also allows them to take a journey of traceability back to the exact region, and in some cases even the exact farm, from which their down was sourced. In addition, the users can learn about its performance characteristics and after-care instructions and can even make purchases on-screen.
Finally, a new standard in manufacturing technology, P.U.R.E.™ from PrimaLoft, allows the use of air, instead of heat to produce the PrimaLoft® insulation, thus reducing carbon emissions by as much as 48%. This process has enabled its first adopter, Patagonia, to use 100% recycled PrimaLoft fibers in their new Nano Puff.
All of these innovations are embracing the new ‘design for the end of life’ philosophy and reaching new levels of sustainability by significantly lowering carbon footprint via higher use of renewable and recycled content to make for a healthier, better future.
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