Outdoor apparel is chic.
For the past few seasons and tradeshows, SNEWS has spotted no shortage of outdoor apparel brands boosting their urban style by combining fashion and function in their pieces. And in the fashion world, outdoor styles are in, merging the two closer together.
Now there’s an opportunity for outdoor companies to break into fashion markets and niche boutiques though a show within a show called Above Tree Line, featuring a contemporary outdoor product section of the Capsule trade shows held several times a year throughout the world.
Most recently, a select group outdoor companies exhibited at the Above Tree Line section of the Capsule show in New York, including Westcomb, Scarpa, Nau, Liberty Bottles, Canada Goose and Birkenstock.
Breaking into new markets
Above Tree Line was launched by Andrea Westerlind said she came up with the idea because of her work with Swedish brand Fjallraven.
“They tried to enter the U.S. [market] once before and spent a lot of time and money trying to do so but never succeeded because the outdoor industry is 80 percent domestic brands,” Westerlind explained. Rather than targeting only outdoor retailers, Westerlind said Fjallraven exhibited at fashion trade shows where the brand was picked up by boutiques and other department stores.
So Westerlind established Above Tree Line for the first time at a Capsule show in January 2012 and it has been a show within a show at another Capsule show and will be again at the upcoming Berlin show. In total there are six Capsule shows throughout the year.
At the first Capsule show, Above Tree Line had 30 outdoor brand exhibitors and at this past Capsule New York Women’s show, which took place Sept. 18 to 20, there were 40 exhibitors.
Westerlind said she’s trying to do for U.S. brands at the Berlin show what the shows in the United States do for international brands.
“Big American outdoor brands have a hard time getting a foothold in Europe," Westerlind said.
In addition to Westerland, Jeff Thrope of Cold Splinters and Julie Atherton of Jam Media Collective are also part of the brains behind the concept.
For Steve Rogerson, an independent sales rep for Nau, the Capsule show’s Above Tree Line section is an invaluable experience.
For one thing, Rogerson said, all the booths are the same size. Plus all the necessary things, such as racks, desks, chairs and other necessities, are provided for exhibitors.
“At OR we have such an expense creating booths and creating brand messages and doing so much with the booth to make it unique and attract customers and tell the brand story,” Rogerson said. “Often I think the products get a little bit lost in some of that. At Capsule it’s purely about the product.”
Rogerson said the Above Tree Line section of Capsule shows would be a good opportunity for other fashion-forward outdoor apparel brands.
“We are seeing that mix of fashion and function in fashion brands and in outdoor brands,” Rogerson explained. “I think [Above Tree Line at Capsule] is a really good way for outdoor brands to reach out to fashion boutiques and also be exposed to larger retailers like Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s.”
Though Nau hasn’t yet been picked up by Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s, Rogerson said buyers have come by to chat and that could be a possibility in the future.
Westerlind hopes to keep Above Tree Line small.
“We have a really good vibe going. We usually have an open bar and we have some activities and we try to build a community amongst the brands,” Westerlind said. “Capsule builds the best of the best. We’re not trying to be one of the biggest shows, we’re trying to present a selection of the best brands in the market.”
For more information on how to exhibit at the Above Tree Line section of a Capsule show, click here.