Highsnobiety – a fashion and sports consulting platform with a strong presence online, on social and soon with a digital store – conducted, together with Boston Consulting Group, as it does every year, a research on the evolution of taste in the fashion world, contacting what they defined as ‘cultural pioneers‘ in an attempt to identify the evolution of the sector, the one already underway and, above all, the one that will characterize the coming years by changing our reference landscape.
From the research emerges a future-next market increasingly composed of ‘super-consumers‘ in constant search of novelty. It is estimated that by 2026, 61% of the luxury market will be composed of Millennials and Gen Z, up 39% from 2019. For 86%, this type of consumer believes that the products they wear determine being culturally aligned and informed.
Let’s continue with some numbers to understand how these cultural pioneers live and what they think:
69% of them go outdoors for physical activity, while 9% are engaged in competitive physical activity. 9% say they wear outdoor and performance products to be on trend, and even 68% say they are more interested in outdoor brands than they were before they became a popular trend.
What’s more: 67% of respondents confirm that applying technical materials (Michelin, Polartec, GoreTex, Vibram… just to name a few) to garments, represents a form of luxury. 80% are interested in outdoor brands that take creative directions or activate unexpected collaborations. Finally, 49% of people say they are happy with the interaction between fashion brands and the outdoor world.
Numbers aside, let’s better understand the phenomenon we are talking about by exemplifying the concept of a fashion world meeting the outdoor universe
Let’s take the new outdoor-spirit proposed by the Moncler Trail Grip. Shoes that are born from the encounter between Moncler’s alpine DNA and a contemporary, casual style that tells of metropolitan spaces. In a perfect marriage of performance and design, the shoe line is defined by a distinctive rugged sole, inspired by mountain bike tires, and flexible carbon fiber inserts for responsive cushioning and dynamic support.
Let’s continue with examples:
In 2023, the well-known Icelandic outdoor brand 66°North announced a collaboration with London-based designer Charlie Constantinou. Together, they created a capsule collection that combines Constantinou’s expertise in technical fabrics and dyeing processes with the values of practicality and functionality to create a collection of functional outerwear infused with a vivid sense of imagination. Made primarily from waste material from 66°North’s factories, the capsule underlines the brand’s ambitions for an increasingly circular business model.
After these case histories, research by Highsnobiety and BCG highlights the different consumer profiles we can expect to encounter in the near future.
Who knows if any of us will recognize ourselves in some of these?
There is the FUNCTIONALIST who is closely associated with the concept of Techwear and prefers hyper-functional outdoor clothing. He is likely to find activities such as trail running, water sports, and snow stylistically interesting.
The TASTEMAKER, on the other hand, is interested in the New Age Players in the outdoor industry and the brands they collaborate with. He is attracted to the style that applies to mountain biking, cycling, and hiking apparel.
As in any self-respecting trend indication, a more traditionalist moment cannot be missed. Here, then, is the CLASSICIST. It appreciates brands that present a minimal style and harken back to the heritage of the past, all seasoned with a casual aesthetic. Soft hiking, bouldering, and camping the activities from which he draws inspiration.
Much stronger is the approach of the STORM HUNTER, which is captured by looks in which the performance and technical aspect is well in view and the design and colors lend an innovative flavor.
The roundup closes with the LEGACY LUXURIAN who seeks the luxury outdoors. He is attracted to innovative designs and materials but engages in activities that have more to do with relaxation and the playful aspect of outdoor life.
During the conference where Highsnobiety‘s research was presented, it was at the Outdoor Business Days in Riva del Garda (Italy), other industry players also spoke.
Polartec, the brand that invented fleece more than 40 years ago, has basically confirmed how the outdoor world will continue to influence fashion in the coming years, especially in light of the fact that the new Gen Z consumers are looking for sustainability and transparency, values that are typical of the outdoor/performance segment.
More than 50% of their consumers ask brands to pay attention to the aesthetic aspect without neglecting the functional one. The application of performance technologies or materials is in demand as it can provide comfort and protection from the elements even on an everyday urban stage.
In this context, ingredient brands play a crucial role. Only they are able to transfer performance content that gives the required level of functionality even on products that have always been designed to make aesthetics a priority. This was confirmed by the exponents of HDry – producers of a membrane, applied with 3D lamination, capable of keeping water out of footwear, gloves and whatnot.
Their collaboration with Canada Goose or Tropicfeel only reinforces the concept of an ‘everyday’ brand seeking contacts with the more technical segments of the industry.
For Vibram, the topics dear to Millennials (sustainability, climate change, and outdoor activities) push them to look for less conventional alternatives to the gym and, thus, they are increasingly pushing for nature-based experiences. It is precisely this spirit and these needs that give rise to very interesting projects capable of blending the everyday style and performance: Zegna x Norda or La Sportiva, Snow Peak x Danner or New Balance, Balenciaga.
Claudio Marenzi, President of Herno Spa and CEO of Montura Spa, also has his say:
The trend is undoubtedly related to contamination. A trend that is destined to continue.
One thing seems clear:
in case you have to buy a new pair of footwear and you want to be sure that it will resist the volatile alternation of trends, bet on hybrid models, able to give emotions in terms of look, but also level performance, in case you want to climb some mountains or face the harshest weather.
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