As a keen cyclist, I often think how easy I’ve had it over the last year. Very little has changed with regards my leisure pursuits. We cyclists still get to go out for long rides, we still stop off for coffee, we still get to see our mates (within the social distancing limits of course) and still are able to experience the great outdoors. For those whose lifestyles have been curtailed by social distancing, the great outdoors life hasn’t gone unnoticed and more consumers have recently been seeking refuge in the countryside, getting into nature and above all, enjoying the fresh air. As the malls, festivals and concerts have emptied, the parks and trails have become inundated. In turn, the outdoor gear industry has surged and with this upswing, we’ve noticed some interesting trends in the bag business.
Picnicking has gone big
We’ve noticed a distinct spike in orders for picnic gear and this is corroborated by our trend analysts who’ve spotted a rise in #picnic tagging on social media platforms in the last 16 months. We’ve seen some cool innovations, as the market expands. We spotted KeepR – it’s a cocktail caddy / mobile bar, and the modern-day version of a picnic basket, carrying like a bucket and resting flat on surface. Igloo have been doing nice stuff too – they offer an eco-friendly Packable Puffer cooler bag, made with recycled plastic bottles from the inside out.
Materials are highly technical, and sustainable
As consumers become increasingly immersed in the outdoor lifestyle, their demands for resilient materials has increased. The market has responded and also R&D – we are seeing more materials with resistance and protective qualities incorporated into practical, versatile and everyday styles. Spending time outdoors seems to have led to a greater appreciation of nature, leading to more consciousness, and therefore more demand for prioritising recycled nylon over virgin materials. Danish brand Ganni's collection is made of 100% certified recycled polyester paired with a recycled rubber trim, and we’ve spotted recycled PET from post-consumer waste being used too, notably by Econyl.
I love a good collab, especially between two brands I admire. Next generation cycling brand Rapha (in a world steeped in tradition) and Japan's Snow Peak just makes sense. Paying homage to cycling’s long-standing relationship with adventure and exploration, Rapha teamed up with outdoors aficionados Snow Peak to make a lightweight capsule of bike-packing essentials (with the notable inscription “seems appropriate”). It comprises lightweight bikepacking essentials, including a bottle, spork and mug. I want to go bikepacking, right now.
When I first read about Gucci and The North Face pairing up, I found the union quite jarring. I am sure I wasn’t the only one. But when that wore off I started to look closer at the ready-to-wear, accessories, footwear and equipment they’re doing together. The jarring part may well have been intentional, on the brands’ part – after all, most ground-breaking fashion and art shocks at first (it’s been going on for several hundred years and historically it’s worked well for the Italians). The collection is represented by a unified logo melding The North Face’s unmistakable Half Dome and Gucci’s Web stripe and the shapes and gear itself is inspired by original designs from The North Face in the ’70s. Pretty cool and no doubt more will follow.
It seems that every outdoor gear brand’s imagery depicts super fit, lean athletes scaling a peak like it was a flight of stairs. The brand iconography belonged to a certain bodytype. But there’s a shift now thanks to the brand Gregory. With more people taking to the outdoors (not all fit and active) there’s a new novice sector that has different size requirements. The brand has introduced the industry’s first line of plus-size backpacks, designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts of diverse body sizes and shapes, ranging from 2XL – 6XL. Gregory has been making some of the best backpacking bags available for a while, and the company worked with Unlikely Hiker and come up with new sizing and specialised designs on shoulder harnesses and hip belts to make the bags comfortable and functional, for everyone.
More brands are supporting activism initiatives
Patagonia is the shining star of sustainability and others are joining. Like Bally – the Swiss brand has a long history in the outdoor sector. They sponsored the 1956 Swiss Winter Olympics team, and made the boots that Tenzing Norgay wore during the first-ever ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. So let’s say they have a strong affinity with the environment and the outdoors. Their mission now is to protect mountain ranges from the adverse effects of global warming and excessive tourism. They’re empowering local communities to do clean-ups of Mount Everest and seven other famous peaks in their 8x8000m pledge, from the Himalayas, to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park.
Some fresh new colours
This is hard to do justice to colours in text, so I’ll take the opportunity to invite you to get in touch with me about the latest trends. Our analysts prepare a full complement of in-depth trend reports each quarter, covering colours, styles, materials and even the macro influences that affect them. Please get in touch with me if you’d like to know more. If you’d like to know more about how we at Ason Bags collaborate with companies in manufacturing bags, subscribe here or email me here.