Blog: Leonie BarrieOutdoor brands in innovation buzz

Leonie Barrie | 2 February 2015

Innovation and technology were the buzz words at this month’s Outdoor Retailer trade show, where leading outdoor brands unveiled new ways to encourage emotional as well as functional participation by consumers.

“Value is the new currency,” contended Julia Clark Day of NPD Leisure Trends at one of the show’s educational seminars. “Consumers are looking for transparency and authenticity, and will identify with companies who resonate those beliefs.”

Some of the trends are also picked up in a new report from just-style. According to the research - 'Outdoor performance apparel: peaks, valleys, and green fields' - global sales reached over US$25bn in 2013, driven by double-digit growth in emerging markets.

And in a major move, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) has today published the country's first ever Code of Conduct – aiming to set out responsible and ethical business practices for its burgeoning apparel industry.

H&M Hennes & Mauritz has acknowledged that its retail prices may have to fluctuate to reflect challenges created by the increasingly strong US dollar, which is hurting sourcing costs for the Swedish apparel group. Raw material prices, supplier capacity and transportation also weighed on first-quarter gross margins, the company said last week.

Canadian men's wear company Kanati Co has pulled its production from Pakistan after spending “far too much time, effort and money” in the country. A number of delays and disruptions have prompted the firm to move its entire manufacturing back home.

?Hanesbrands is also investing US$1.5m to expand and upgrade its Clarksville, Arkansas, sheer hosiery plant as it brings some offshore work back to the US. The move will see all finishing and packing carried out at the facility.

And changes are afoot in the US retail space. Jones New York is to close all 127 of its stores and end its wholesale business as it seeks “strategic alternatives.” And Kate Spade & Co is to shutter its Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade stores as it focuses long-term investment on its flagship Kate Spade New York brand.

While US clothing giant Gap is making changes under incoming CEO Art Peck, who officially begins his new role today. The retailer is to close its Piperlime unit in order to focus on its core portfolio, and has made a number of leadership changes including the departure of creative director Rebekka Bay.

The global apparel industry is expected to grow 3.5% to over $500bn this year, matching a similar gain in 2014 and consolidating a three-year recovery, according to the International Apparel Federation's (IAF) new president Rahul Mehta. Speaking to just-style, he also urges brands and retailers to issue standardised manufacturing inspections and auditing schemes.

And a new fashion consumer with new values and new connectivity is redefining fashion - and the industry is responding with new business models structured around customer demand.

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