Wrapping up the SIA Snow Show's third year in Denver , the industry seemed hopeful for spring storms and starting fresh next year. The 2012 SIA Snow Show, which ran from January 26-29, brought together snow sports industry reps from around the world to experience the once-a-year energy of 19,000+ attendees, 900+ brands, 3,340 booths, 114 new and returning exhibitors, and over 90% of the supplier market only found at the Snow Show, according to the latest report from SIA. See a detailed breakdown below of how each category faired at the show:
"Show went incredible for us. The vibe was good, there was a lot of interest on our new product line and the business side went very well. Even though it was a bad winter, the retailers seemed very positive going into next winter," said Keven Addy, North American Sales Director Flow Snowboarding.
With spatulas in-hand, SIA Board Members flipped pancakes Sunday morning to send attendees off with a hot breakfast on the last day of the Snow Show. During the Show, attendees spent four days experiencing the hottest snow sports trends, innovations, educational seminars, product presentations, personalities, events, concerts, meetings and parties. With parts of the country experiencing a mostly brown winter, retailers and exhibitors were honest about this season's challenges but also showed a surprisingly upbeat attitude.
"The Show is very well organized and Denver is a great city that has proven to be very welcoming to us as a community. There are a lot more start-up companies I'm seeing here each year, which is very exciting. I also really like what you are doing here with the Backcountry Experience area. This is certainly an important segment of the market," Brent Trgaskis, GM for Big Bear Mountain Resort.
"We met with and spoke to a number of our current accounts and realized our sell through, even though it was a holiday season to forget, has been very good and that reputation has generated a number of new accounts for us. Just imagine if it had snowed this year?" said Jake Thamm, President of Cresent Moon Snowshoes.
"I was on the hour every hour with my appointments. Retailers showed up and were ready to do business and surprisingly they were in a good mood and had a good attitude," said "Sweaty" Scott Downing, sales rep for Capita Snowboards, Union Bindings, Coal Headwear, Von Zipper, Holden Outwear, 32 Boots and Etnies Footwear.
Trend chatter among attendees included the snowboard segment's push into backcountry, accessories with tricked out digital features, waterproof down jackets and plenty of style and color to keep consumers looking good on/off the slopes in Winter 2012.13. Being at the Show is the best way to get a feel for next year but here's a quick look at some of the major trends, highlights found at the 2012 Snow Show.
Snowboard apparel reflected a nature-inspired color palette far from boring or mild that featured muted jewel tone accents and menswear influenced fabrics and patterns such as plaid, corduroy and tweed. Workwear, military uniform-styling and a more tailored fit for women were some of the urban-influenced trends in snowboard outerwear. Some attendees noted a lack of all-over prints but plenty of bright color statements. And to address the growing number of riders who want outerwear to appear more like streetwear, many brands are blending street style with technical features resulting in technical hoodies, flannels and lightweight shells.
Last year, sales of insulated jackets grew by 29% in early season sales and the trend continues to hold strong in outerwear. Throughout the Show, exhibitors had many versions of the puffy jacket with amazing technical features including lightweight compressible, water and tear resistant qualities and combining down with other high-tech materials and designs to prevent over-heating.
A luxe note was struck in many styles catering to women's sense of individual style incorporating metallics, fur trim and non-traditional snow sports fabrics such as denim and Ultrasuede. Brighter colors in pants have taken over for basic black and instead brighter colors such as greens, purples and bright blues are becoming very common in women's outerwear. For the family and kid segment — electric pastels for girls and bright patterns for boys will be strong trends next season.
The dominance of rockered boards, ease-of-use features with hybrid lacing systems and binding technology advancements were found across the Show. Riders want the performance of new lacing systems as well as the feel of a traditional laced boot.
The latest crop of snowboard bindings are even lighter and more responsive materials plus more rider-engineered designs ranging from revamped highbacks to quick-draw straps to adjustable canting and trimmed down baseplates, offering various levels of rider customization.
There was a lot of talk among attendees about the increase in backcountry use by snowboarders. Once considered the domain of AT and telemark enthusiasts, this new crop of backcountry riders have diverse interests and needs-creating new opportunities for retailers an brands. The Show's new Backcountry Experience exhibit pulled together the best of new products and experts in this category.
"It's cool to see all that backcountry stuff in one place. It really shows you the realm of possibility of what's out there and what's available to the retailers. It's hard to have a conversation these days about skiing and riding without the word 'backcountry' coming up," Brent Watterson, Rep for Eira.
As rocker innovations continue to make it easier for soft snow skis to float and butter turns, manufacturers are adding more all-mountain features, such as increased stiffness and more advanced camber-rocker mixes underfoot. For women, the trend is wider skis and wider-wasted skis – with new technology these skis are becoming easier to use in both powder and in hard or variable conditions.
"The Show was super successful and busy for us. We had a strong presence with a new booth. Retailers were very excited about the products, new categories and Atomic's overall position in the market," Kathryn Smith, Brand Manager for Atomic.
Backcountry skiing continues to be snow sports hottest categories with AT/randonnee equipment sales up an amazing 90% in dollars and 87% in unit sales. Many new products were introduced at the Show within this category including extensive new boot and ski lines and high profile AT binding collections. Additionally, many more traditional ski brands are expanding their lines and embracing styles and products that have traditionally been linked to the "outdoor" market.
"Go into any core alpine shop across the nation and you'll see people carrying backpacks, probes, transceivers," said Dave Mahoney, Outdoor Research, director of sales.
Manufacturers are finding a strong demand in everything from top-end race gear to touring equipment for the general consumer and beginners of all ages. Waxless, metal-edged touring skis were in high demand and fun, bright colors and patterns are being incorporated to appeal to younger participants.
With concussions becoming a top concern in variety of sports, manufacturers are working overtime to ensure skiers and riders are protected. Better protection, lighter materials, custom fit and enhanced plug-in technologies and goggle compatibility were the top trends offered by helmet companies.
Big trends in hats included slouchy beanies, full-fleeced lining providing style on the outside but technical function on the inside. Brimmed hats for women and oversized pom-pom hats, which have been popular for a couple seasons, will continue into next year as well. Multifunction hats were also popping that double-up as a neck warmer and a hat.
Goggle companies were rolling out all the stops when it comes to integrating data storage and display technology. Goggle companies are also offering consumers better goggle and helmet compatibility.
Sunglasses were seen with popping colors, better eye protection across the Show floor. New lens and fit technologies continue to surface, helping drive the category from 5% growth and $56 million in sales in 2011. Metal frames, specifically aviator versions, are staying strong as far as trends.
For handwear, manufacturers of mittens and gloves are incorporating new technologies melding fabrics and improving touch-screen technologies melding fabrics and improving touch-screen capabilities for electronic use.
Despite the warmer temps this year, snow sports enthusiasts are still looking for new baselayers in fun, bright colors and prints. Sweater designed baselayers brought back vintage ski style and everyday lifestyle pieces have double-duty technical features.
"People are buying baselayers and using them for multiple purposes. We feel that the more technical outer fabric becomes, and more breathable, the more you have to wear something that wicks moisture quickly," said Gretchen Quigley, softgoods buyer for Danzieisen & Quigley Sports Specialists in Cherry Hill, NJ.
After the Show doors closed yesterday, attendees packed up headed off to the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest at Winter Park Resort and Devil's Thumb Ranch, where the industry will get together and demo the gear they've just seen at the Show and to ski, ride and slide together. The Demo is a great way to wrap up everyone's Snow Show experience – two days of demos, races, parties and catching up with industry friends.
For more news and highlights from the Show, read the official 2012 SIA Snow Show Dailies. And, for
24/7 updates, be sure to visit the SIA Social Dashboard and stay connected through the SIA Facebook page, SIA's Latest and on Twitter – we'll be sending highlights before and during the Show to keep you in the know. When tweeting about the Show, please add #SIA12 to join in on our Twitter feed. Plus video stream from the Snow and Demo also appears at siasnowshow.com and SIA's Facebook page.