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Outdoor footwear is a reliable runner

Comfortable shoes sell strongly – Outdoor footwear offers functionality, comfort and trends – high-quality leather in demand

Outdoor footwear accounts for some 25 per cent of sales in the outdoor industry. The category has been performing at this level for years – much to the satisfaction of retailers and manufacturers. Outdoor footwear is highly regarded for its quality and comfort. The 25th OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen from 17 to 20 June, 2018 provides a clear indication of where the trends are heading.


“We’re happy. There is strong demand for high-quality, functional footwear.” German footwear manufacturer Meindl is optimistic about the 2019 sales season. Thomas Gröger, Managing Director Hanwag, says: “We are delighted to see healthy growth in all categories.”

No surprises from the two specialist mountain bootmakers here though, given the continually increasing hiking trend in Germany. Competitors from further afield are also reporting good sales, despite the fact that the German market is not always straightforward for them. Scarpa Sales Manager Jonas Gerhäusser is “very happy” with the 2018 financial year. The same goes for Dr Oliver Wieser, Managing Director Dachstein, who says that the “season went well.”


Lowa have experienced a strong increase in growth rates, especially with their multifunctional shoes,” comments Head of Design & Development, Alex Nicolai. Keen Key Account Manager Selim Say reports “record repeat orders for sandals in all categories,” while Scarpa is enjoying “significantly increased growth” with climbing shoes and approach shoes,” adds Jonas Gerhäusser. “Footwear is a tough segment” comments Mathias Basedow, Country Manager Germany for Swedish brand Icebug: “Demand is generally healthy, but there is a danger that too many goods might get pumped onto the market.”


To see off competition from outside the industry, outdoor footwear manufacturers are continuing to rely high quality and high comfort. AKU from Italy are expanding their anatomical Elica system that makes their boots “even more comfortable” in 2019, according to Export Manager Fabio Miotto. Fellow competitor Tecnica is presenting its first customized-fit, low-cut hiking shoe at OutDoor 2018. The new technology that Tecnica launched with its classic hiking boots at last year’s show has enabled the company to grow 2018 turnover by 35 per cent, says Marketing Manager Federico Sbrissa. Hanwag boss Thomas Gröger is happier talking about quality, durability and sustainability than new trends. He sees it as important to drive growth by further refining models with innovative, new technologies.


“Urban outdoor” remains a definite trend and Selim Say says that it fits Keen’s brand philosophy perfectly. Dachstein interprets “urban outdoor” as the “fusion of fashion and sport”. By contrast, Meindl sees itself as more traditional. “Mountaineering and trekking boots remain our core area of expertise,” asserts Head of Sales, Stefan Müller, adding that “high-quality leather is an important trend”. Thomas Gröger agrees: Hanwag only uses leather from European tanneries, with the exception of its yak leather, which the Bavarian bootmaker sources from a development project in Tibet.  


Sustainability is becoming more and more important for the shoe market. AKU have produced the first shoe with an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD): it is chrome-free, has regionally sourced leather, zero-impact lining and a footbed made of bamboo with coconut activated carbon. Hanwag too is expanding its collection with its PFC-free Eco-Shell membrane technology. In addition, Icebug is also focussing increasingly on sustainability.

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