It’s inevitable. Hit the Snow Show and immediately want to replace every piece of winter gear you own. The four-day event at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo.,last week welcomed more than 18,000 members of the snow sports industry and nearly 1,000 winter sports brands.
Retailers, manufacturers, reps, media, resorts, and athletes gathered to see entire lines of gear, clothing and accessories from the big boys like Salomon and Rossignol to newcomers like Roces and Purnell.
You could see every potential piece in their line but if you weren’t at the show you’ll be at the mercy of the buyers from your favorite ski shops. They’ll have the final say as to what makes it into their stores for 2016/17.
True to form, the population in the snowboarding section created a four-day frat party with trash strewn everywhere, loud music, crowds spilling into the aisles, beer guzzling and the scent of bacon filling the backend of the showroom floor proving they aren’t going anywhere.
The lanes in the main (and much larger) ski section remained relatively tame. The action was taking place inside the booths despite the seeming calm. Ski brands were pleasantly surprised and excited by the flurry of interest in their wares.
“It’s crazy how busy it just got,” said Julia Blumenfeld, Marketing/Communications Manager at Head USA when her booth went from a few to packed in less than ten minutes. “The buying won’t happen until later [in the season] but the interest is definitely there.”
Buyers browsed the new frontside carvers while a massive snowstorm was encroaching on Bronco territory. Four seasons of poor snow conditions and decreasing retail sales, and manufacturers are finally stowing the fat skis in the backroom and attempting to reinvent the perfect turn with a mid-waisted (70-90mm) corduroy eater; only to see nearly two-feet of fresh snow fall at the on-snow demo in Copper Mountain. Ah, the irony.
Though the event showcased what manufacturers hope to be the trends we’ll buy into this fall, the Snowsports Industries America Snow Show is more about the high-fives and reconnections with industry friends.
Of course, that could all change when the show moves to early December in 2017. Stores normally have already bought their softgoods inventory by late January so we expect a completely different vibe when both sides have to get down to business.
Still, this 2016 show was the media’s first glimpse at next season’s trends which include more boho/hippie styles, subdued earthtones, the waning of crazy patterns in jackets and pants, and the increased use of mixed textures.
The push to create versatile pieces that can function just as well on the slopes as on the street dominated the softgoods side. Many brands continue to locally source their materials and share an eco-story while finding new ways to utilize materials like alpaca and merino wools.
Expect to see frontside skis with colorful, sophisticated topsheet designs, alpine bindings that can easily accommodate both backcountry and alpine boots, lower-priced point helmets with multi-directional impact technology on the hardgoods side. Backcountry/sidecountry gear continues to infiltrate alpine resort skiing, blurring the distinction between the two.
It all kind of feels like Christmas morning but your purchasing frenzy will have to wait until the fall when the dazzling array of new clothes, new skis and boards, the boots, the helmets, the gadgets and more, seen at this January’s 2016 trade show finds its way into stores.
Photos: It's a wrap in Denver (Ryan Freitas)