"The retail atmosphere for today's performance sports apparel is being tested, as store closures for this year alone are in the 9,000+ range, and 25% of the U.S. malls will be closing in the next five years!" stated Matt Powell, VP/Industry Analyst - Sports for the NPD Group, at the semi-annual NPD seminar at ORSM'17.
The outdoor market is becoming increasingly challenged, as specialty stores close and consumer demographics continue to change amid a downturn in buying power. The Millennial and Gen-Z generations currently make up over 50% of consumers and since they have less disposable income to spend, they want to understand what they are buying and want to have a shopping experience. Therefore, understanding these consumers, and how they buy sport-specific apparel is imperative for fabric developers, apparel designers, and retailers going forward.
According to NPD, total Outdoor Industry sales for the 12 months, ending May 2017, was $18.8B. While there was an average price increase of +1.2%, sales declined by -2.8% in dollars and by -4.0% in units sold. Gender-specific performance apparel and footwear showed the following numbers: Men's - +$8.2B (up +1.6%); Women's - up +$4.2B (down -6.7%); and Kids' +$1.4B (down -12.0%).
Based on the NPD report, the Top 5 Outdoor Categories for sport-specific apparel are: Outerwear ($2.9B and a +5.8% Year-Over-Year % Change; Performance Running Footwear ($2.6B and a -9.7); Sportswear Tops ($1.8B and a -3.3%); Active Bottoms ($1.8B and a -14.1%); and Outdoor Footwear ($1.3B and a +4.8%).
The FabricLink Network looks at several fabric suppliers for the outdoor market, exhibiting at the ORSM'17, that are seen as important for upcoming seasons.
Cordura debuted a series of product collaborations and new fabric technologies, remaining from engineered fabrics to performance naturals, that are dedicated to helping consumers “Live Durable™", underscoring its commitment to developing groundbreaking durable fiber and fabric technologies. As part of its “50 for 50” anniversary tribute, the CORDURA® brand has a list of exciting new product adoptions from leading brands who rely on CORDURA® fabrics:
Drirelease® introduced its new GEO Cool proprietary hydrophilic active particles technology, derived from metal oxides, which have a thermal conductivity 3,000% greater than that of polyester polymer. The active particles are added during the dyeing of filament polyester fabrics or yarns, and are locked into the fabric structure to provide permanent performance for the life of the fabric and garment. The active hydrophilic particles effectively transport moisture through the fabric, with the energy to drive the moisture out by absorbing heat from the body. The GEO Cool technology provides thermoregulation by effectively managing heat and moisture transfer in the fabric, thus providing superior comfort to the wearer.
Lubrizol Corporation introduced its x4zol™-J, a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) at ORSM'17. The new fiber technology is a new elastomeric monofilament that is manufactured differently from spandex, resulting in unique qualities that provide comfort above and beyond traditional stretch fibers. X4zol™-J is also created through solvent-free melt extrusion, which is a cleaner process that produces a finer and stronger elastomeric fiber than traditional spandex.X4zol™-J is a monofilament compared to multi-filament spandex, and also has a higher molecular weight. This combination translates to a thinner, stronger/durable and softer fabric. Fabrics containing X4zol™-J can also provide improved body temperature control vs. those containing spandex. Additional benefits include: comfortable compression, breathable/fast drying/cooling quality; balanced 3600 stretch for enhanced fit; sustainable benefits (solvent-free, lower process temperatures, and recyclable under certain conditions); and chlorine and UV resistance.
eVent's® DVstorm fabric provides light and fast
all-weather protection,and Direct Venting technology.
eVent® FABRICS showcased DVexpedition series, its most durable waterproof membrane. DVexpedition is a “Direct Venting™ Membrane” that provides a durable waterproof fabric built for those who continually push the limits. Developed for extreme weather conditions, the DVexpedition series provides outstanding waterproof protection without sacrificing air permeability, and is ideal for high-altitude adventure, snow sports, hunting and workwear.The DVexpedition series is available in two versions: DValpine, is the most versatile membrane in the collection, offering all-weather protection and high breathability. DValpine laminates are perfect for mountaineering, backpacking, snowsports and a broad range of outdoor pursuits. DVstorm is built for light-and-fast pursuits. This version features a lighter weight, more breathable membrane paired with lightweight face fabrics and 10 denier backers for an ultralight laminate. DVstorm is ideal for high output users in moderate weather conditions, such as hikers, runners, cyclists and backcountry adventurers.
Dyneema®, the inventor/manufacturer of Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene fiber, and branded as the world's strongest fiber™ with maximum strength and minimum weight, featured a variety of applications for the Dyneema® fiber at ORSM'17. The Dyneema® fiber is available in a variety of fabric constructions including circular knits, warp knits, raschel knits, composites/laminates, ridged wovens/stretch wovens, denim, hybrid composites, and flexible composites. Current applications for Dyneema® are a component fiber in ropes, cables, and nets for the fishing, shipping, and offshore industries; safety gloves for the metalworking industry; fine yarn applications for the medical sector; bullet-resistant armor/clothing for police and military personnel; as well as in denim, apparel, footwear, sports equipment and lightweight outdoor products and accessories.