"My first impression is very good. Above all, because such a great focus is placed on sustainability," commented Antje von Dewitz at the opening press conference. Vaude's industry leader and CEO brought the mood to the point. At a time when the industry is, according to figures of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) from 2018, stagnating with a loss in sales of around one percent, new impetus is needed.
"Nothing is the same as it was five years ago. And the pace of change is accelerating," said EOG General Secretary Arne Strate. OutDoor by ISPO is designed to make brands and retailers fit for the new age. And not just on the four days of the fair until Wednesday, but as a year-round platform 365 days a year. The project will also include the new platform Outdoor Society as a supplement to ISPO.com. "We want to open up new target groups for the industry and thus open up growth opportunities," Dittrich announced.
The more than 1000 exhibitors from 35 countries hope for the same - a great participation for a premiere fair. Six exhibition halls were originally planned for OutDoor by ISPO, now nine are occupied. In total, the exhibition area covers almost 100,000 square meters. Dittrich: "This shows that the industry is very popular." The concept, developed in close coordination with the outdoor scene and EOG, involves supplementing the outdoor concept of classic content such as hiking or trekking with activities such as water sports, mountain biking, trail running or urban outdoor.
A hot spot at the fair will certainly be the indoor climbing hub, because according to EOG figures the climbing sector is growing strongly in the middle of a rather challenging situation in the industry. In addition, the outdoor industry is to be linked with other sectors such as electronics or environmental technologies, thus tapping innovation potential.
This is particularly important when it comes to sustainability, which, like many stands in the exhibition halls, dominated the big kick-off press conference. Antje von Dewitz urged the industry to take responsibility. "Nature is the field where we do business. And we are jointly responsible for many of the problems that exist. The textile industry causes about a third of the microplastic that floats in the sea. And worldwide, 25 percent of pesticides are used in the production of cotton. It is therefore our responsibility to find solutions."
The world still has about ten years to go before it can mitigate the even worse effects of climate change by reversing the trend. The words were uttered on a day when trade fair visitors were looking for shade on the open-air grounds at well over 30 degrees Celsius. Other important challenges are the topics of climate change and the disappearance of many species. What business can the outdoor industry still do in the future if nature is inhospitable, polluted and populated by fewer and fewer animals and plants?
Ryan Gellert, General Manager EMEA at Patagonia, spoke clearly into the conscience of the outdoor industry: "I have the utmost respect for the 16-year-old girl who leads the movement to fight climate change. But we as industry should be ashamed that we can't do better." Sustainability is rewarded by the consumers - 75 percent of them consider the topic important. This is why brands such as Vaude and Patagonia are also successful in the market and are shining with good growth figures.
According to von Dewitz, the focus on sustainability in production in the supply chain causes about ten to 15 percent higher costs, but only about five to eight percent can be passed on to consumers via higher costs. Therefore it is important that the industry stands together and works on a change of the whole system in favor of sustainability. OutDoor by ISPO sees the Vaude boss as the ideal partner for this. Not only because of the "Code of Conduct" developed jointly with the industry.
"Messe München has committed itself to taking the path towards climate neutrality. That's why I'm proud to be part of this fair," said von Dewitz. Klaus Dittrich emphasized that Messe München is already one of the most sustainable trade fair organizers thanks to the use of photovoltaics, geothermal energy and rainwater recovery. According to Dittrich, he is even doing something against the death of insects: "For half a year there have been beehives on the site. Recently I collected my first honey."