EVO Execs Report On Outdoor Retailer

Bryce Phillips and Atsuko Tamura of EVO

Bryce Phillips and Atsuko Tamura of EVO

Have you ever been to OR before? If so, how long has it been?

AT: Yes, I used to attend each Winter and Summer show [with REI]. Two shows have passed since I went to my last one.

BP: First time.

What trade shows do you usually visit over the course of a year?

AT: SIA and I will be going to Surf Expo hopefully this year.

BP: SIA, Agenda, and our buyers used to go to ASR and still attend Surf Expo.

What were your first impressions of the show? (Was it what you expected to see? Why or why not?)

AT: The same impression I had when I first went to OR still holds true today, with some differences:
=More color and style than I had imagined since the product assortment carried at REI tends to be more subdued, focusing on function over fashion.

=There seemed to be less technical and product innovation than I'd seen at other shows.

=More difficult to differentiate between brands—styles, color use, notions, are starting to look the same (seams, colors, functionality, etc). You could take a Marmot jacket and put Mountain Hardwear on it and it would be hard to see the difference. Arcterx used to lead in the more sleek, fitted innovative styles and the gap in difference between them and these other brands seems to be lessening as the other brands have done more similar presentations as ArcT.

=Still seemed "older" —baby boomers, yet saw more younger attendees, women and less fit people. It's nice to see that evolve get that so the industry can still be inspiring a fit active lifestyle, yet be welcoming to "growing America."

=Would have liked to have seen even more women and more ethnicity, although it has progressed— but at a slower pace.

=A big difference: the booths were less secretive than two years ago. Four years ago booths were more open and people could wander in and out. Two years ago there were high walls and "gatekeepers" at the front, supposedly to discourage product knock-off artists. This year, it was back to being open, welcoming, feel free to browse. I suspect the growth of the web, cell phone technology, etc. made it a requirement to be less secretive because people will find product design ideas much more easily. And there's less to knock off.

BP: It was what I had expected for the most part but we knew that there is strong momentum in the way of what we view as the important trends including convergence of snowboard, ski, sidecountry/backcountry etc.

How would you describe the overall "vibe" of the show floor? How would you compare it to other shows you regularly attend?

AT: There was more energy overall than before, and more enthusiastic chatter, less conservatism over business and growth, but not blindly optimistic.

=A desire and attempt to bring more energy, youth, hip, and cool to the overall industry and products and in the imagery. Didn't quite hit the mark though, but it’s evolving for sure.

=Overall, though, it was positive and had a refined energy to it, a sense of community—loved that and it was really nice to be there again.

BP: Very positive. Clearly this has been a good year for everybody, both retailers and manufacturers.

Considering that your store focuses on action sports lifestyle, what crossover brands and product categories did you see on the floor?

AT: It was great to see the brands we carry in the context of the Outdoor Lifestyle, and what still "fit" in both and what seemed like they had a different twist in the outdoor context.

=Several brands made sense in either category and made similar brand statements and presence—TNF, K2, Dakine.

=Some brands had a more powerful presence—Black Diamond, Arcterx, Patagonia.

=Some had a more subtle/small presence—Skull Candy.

=Some seemed more broad and stylish here, but wouldn't necessarily be in the center for our store.

=Some of the larger ski brands had a smaller presence, which was surprising to me.

=very interesting to solidify what brands DON'T fit into evo too.

BP: K2, Patagonia, TNF, Mountain Hardwear, Flylow, Nau, Smith, Dakine, G3, Black Diamond, the list goes on.

Did you spot any new brands or products that you'd like to bring in your store? If so, what?

AT: Mountain Hardwear was surprisingly cooler and edgier now than before.

=More of the nau outerwear for womens streetwear (not the center but certainly a strong fringe brand for our customer) and more of the horny toad apparel for women could be brought in.

=There were some long underwear/layers brands that could have some more appeal to the evo customer than some of the ones we currently carry so I'd want the buyers to check out some of the brands.

BP: We carry most but will be growing significantly with all of them. New brands that we plan to add are G3 and Voile after having a really good year for sales with all backcountry related products.

What was your favorite booth at the show, and why?

AT: Black Diamond—They continue to balance out technical innovation and cutting edge application, amazing use of color and design, balance inspiration and accessibility, and balance function and fashion to make a strong statement that they know what they are doing, and what they are about.

=Keen —had good energy, incorporated their brand elements in the materials and presentation of their booth. As a brand that definitely has a distinct style of its own, they did a nice job bringing a high energy, more hip and broader aged vibe to the booth and products. I think the new Prez has a lot to do with this, being formerly with Salomon.

=Teva—they had high energy and presented their product with a whole surf/water/action sports lifestyle approach—different than what I remember in the past. They had loud upbeat music that was genre agnostic.

=The wood carving one—interactive and engaged people walking by. Can’t remember the brand name.

=Clif Lodge—featured samples and how they made Clif Bar product in a way that was more fun than before.

BP: K2 had a ton of innovative products that relate to the backcountry/sidecountry. Their tools including packs, shovels, probes are new to K2 and looks really good. Their split board and high performance BC/Alpine skis are also awesome.

What brand(s) were you most surprised to see exhibiting at OR?

AT: I was surprised not to see more triathlon focused brands and products. I was surprised to see such a large running shoes and apparel presence—that has grown. Surprised to see the dedicated space to treadmill running.

BP: There isn't one that comes to mind as most surprising.

Did you find the show easy to navigate? If so, what make it an effective show floor. If not, what would you change?

AT: Yes. Would not change much.

BP: I'm directionally challenged so for me, no, it wasn't easy to navigate.

Overall, how would you describe your overall impressions of the show to other retailers?

AT: In need of more young, hip, fashionable, still functional customers. Room for apparel brands to represent more of the lifestyle aspect of outdoor and active customers. There is a place for evo!!

New Technological application in fabrics like Cocona—I'm curious to see how this stuff does to fabrics and brands like Eddie Bauer and Reef who now have exclusive use of it in their products.

BP: It was a great show and I look forward to attending to the next one. It's very relevant for evo given our passions (ski, snowboard both in and out of bounds) and it's great to see the industry moving in the direction that it is.