Drayton's specialist recruitment consultant in the apparel & footwear sector, Wayne Mabbott, analyses the latest key sportswear trends from ISPO 2019 and, along the way, encounters the latest in sustainable fabric technology, a plate of pig’s knuckles, a curious Bavarian doing odd things with a whip and the rise and rise of 'slow fashion'.
“If something works and can't be improved upon, we keep it just the way it is.” I don't know who invented lederhosen – the three-hundred-year-old traditional Bavarian costume – but I imagine that sentiment, or something like it, must have been part of the original philosophy behind them. Funny then, that, in fact, it's a line lifted straight from the website of sustainable Swedish sports’ brand Fjallraven. A very 21st century company.
And, stranger still, this curious parallel occurs to me as I’m sitting in Munich’s famous Hofbräuhaus am Platzl – eating pig’s knuckles, drinking from a foaming stein and watching a slightly strange German man cracking a whip. (More of him later.)
Lederhosen, originally durable workwear for the Bavarian farmer, have certainly stood the test of time. At this year's ISPO, I came across many brands who had put sustainability at the very core of their strategy in an attempt to do exactly the same thing.
High-tech but sustainable seems to be exactly where the industry is, these days.
Fjallraven is a company that clearly believes in putting its core principles into the very centre of its business plan. They use recycled materials whenever possible and build their products to last.
As their website says, “It’s not enough to ensure materials last a long time. If a product looks dated in two season’s time you won’t want to wear it. So, we designed with timelessness in mind.” Fjallraven’s ideology is, in fact, the exact antithesis of fast fashion.
Another company that puts sustainability at the very heart of all its processes, which also had a strong presence at ISPO, is Ortovox. Based in Taufkirchen near Munich, itself, Ortovox says “protection” is their central core brand value. But, for them, protection doesn't just mean the practical protection against the elements its jackets, gloves, and socks provide but something more profound – protection of mankind, the environment, and animals.
Made from the finest merino wool, which comes from the company’s very own Tasmanian farms, as well as protection they also talk about the concept of ‘full transparency’ – “We know exactly where our merino wool comes from. Transparency and traceability are important to us.”
Back in the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl – after a long day walking the halls doing product research and meeting both new and established Drayton clients, like Helly Hansen – the man cracking the whip turns out to be nothing more malign than another Bavarian tradition – he snaps out a tune to ump-pap-pah music. Quirky, it may be, but it has obviously stood the test of time. So, too, I suspect, will – what you could perhaps call –the ‘slow fashion’ philosophies of Ortovox and Fjallraven.