Outdoor Retailer Rundown

Nina Berg

After a mad dash trip to Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer to support Bemis, we went through our iPhone photos and picked our top takeaways.

1. Feed the Crowd.

A lot of thought and money goes into how brands present at trade shows like Outdoor Retailer. The investment can run a company 100s of thousands of dollars and manifests in huge booths with Trump-like walls, massive screens, and even fake snow. We gravitated towards the more open booths and were often led there by our noses. Take Vasque, for example, who smartly paid attention to the simpler things, like pancakes, which they served with imported Vermont maple syrup to all passersby. Our New England hearts sang.

2. Look different.

In 2015, Winter Outdoor Retailer introduced Venture Out, a section of the show dedicated to smaller lifestyle brands. It’s one of our favorite areas because it provides a younger counterpoint to the established industry giants. 

Within the Venture Out area, one brand stuck out the most: Maloja — a Bavarian brand that showed racks of men’s and women’s garments with a distinctly 70s feel. From ombre zippers and star-shaped bonded baffles to hand-drawn illustrations and a color palette Mad Men fans would love, their brand resonated through every detail. In addition to their lifestyle pieces, Maloja develops racing kits for professional ski and bike teams.  

Fun fact: their design team of 10+ creates 300 pieces twice a year. From the comforts of a beautiful farmhouse nestled into the side of a snow-peaked mountain, of course.

3. Make a mess.

Another highlight was the #BemisBagBar, a happy hour hands-on event that Bemis ran in collaboration with Cotton Incorporated. Invitees were greeted with a cold beer and a blank slate — in this instance a denim tote bag. They were given open access to Bemis’ Design Lab and all of the Sewfree samples they could dream of.

We sat back and watched as people filed in and then spilled out of the Design Lab, clamoring over tacking irons and waving over the help of Bemis’ design techs. 

At a show filled with designers and developers, we’ve found the opportunity to create is a sure-fire way to fill a booth.