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Outdoor Footwear: Setting trends in the mountains and around town

Footwear sector enjoys stable growth and ever greater variety

Friedrichshafen - The outdoor industry footwear category has been enjoying continued steady growth for a number of years. Consumers hold outdoor footwear in high regard for their quality of workmanship, fit and durability. At OutDoor, Europe’s largest industry show, 18 to 21 June 2017 in Friedrichshafen, footwear is a definite feel-good factor.

According to research by the European Outdoor Group, footwear is responsible for over 25 per cent of the industry's turnover. Hiking boots might be one of the most long-lasting of all outdoor products, but the trend is now towards owning four pairs of footwear rather than three. Why? Outdoor footwear is more than just hiking shoes. It means multifunctional shoes for everyday use and travelling, sporty shoes for trail running or workouts, sandals for summer, warm footwear for winter and footwear for a range of other activities. Valentin Strohmaier, marketing manager at Mammut sums it up like this: "Customers expect more technicity and functionality from outdoor brands than they do from normal shoe retailers.” He firmly believes that multifunctional shoes that can be worn in the mountains and on city streets are going to become more and more popular.

Unlike clothing though, the term "urban outdoor” is a matter of debate when it comes to footwear. Thomas Kramm, key account manager at Teva, prefers the term "modern outdoor”: "We are talking about shoes aimed at a younger target group that offer both fashion and functionality. This is not urban outdoor; those shoes might look like outdoor footwear but offer little functionality.” Keen also supports the idea of "modern outdoor”: "We feel that the term "urban outdoor” is out-dated”, because it does not differentiate enough. In biggest demand are lightweight models in fresh colours and versatile outsoles,” says Selim Say, senior product manager EMEA at Keen. Oliver Wieser, managing director Dachstein says that he does use the term "urban outdoor” but clearly draws a line between their offer and normal shoe brands: "Dachstein urban outdoor shoes are a stylish option for urban adventures, but also provide the functionality and materials of an outdoor shoe.”

Multifunctional outdoor footwear has become very segmented and highly specialized. From travel to water sports and trail running, to everyday wear and approach shoes, there many different types of shoes for all customer tastes, that cross over into all areas of everyday use. Marc Fischer, senior director Adidas Terrex Western Europe, explains: "The Adidas Terrex footwear collection clearly focuses on multifunctional and trail running shoes, at the end of the day though, it’s up to the customer what they use them for.” La Sportiva sees things similarly. "Urban shoes are being influenced more and more by outdoor trends. Our approach shoes and trail running shoes are also being purchased more and more for leisure use,” explains Luca Mich, marketing manager at the Italian brand. La Sportiva concentrates on trail running and approach shoes.

And what about classic hiking boot? "One might assume that sales are falling, because multifunctional segment is growing over-proportionally. However, at Hanwag, we are clearly focussing on our core competencies: mountaineering, trekking and hiking,” explains Andreas Settele, head of development at the traditional Bavarian bootmaker, while talking of steady sales. The competition has a similar opinion. "Classic, cemented construction boots and shoes form the DNA of the Lowa brand. They are very important to us. The market might not be experiencing great steps forward, but it is not the case that sales are falling,” observes Matthias Wanner, head of sales and distribution Germany, Lowa. Stefan Müller, head of sales at Meindl, is upbeat: "Our hiking shoes and trekking shoes with a younger, dynamic optic are enjoying positive growth. They have the same quality and functionality as our classic hiking and trekking models. They are modern classics, as it were.” Andreas Settele adds: "Today’s trekkers are much more demanding when it comes to weight and material combinations.” Lowa is also bringing its collection of trekking models with purely synthetic uppers to the OutDoor.

The 24th OutDoor is open to industry visitors only from Sunday 18 June to Wednesday 21 June 2017 (Sunday to Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For more information, such as the directory of exhibitors or programme overview, visit: www.outdoor-show.com.