Withering interest prompts ispo to revamp summer show to “sports & style”

A decline in the number of exhibitors and attendees at the summer ispo show has prompted organizers to go in a different direction, leaving behind the attempt to cover all major sports by category and instead allowing the event to evolve into one with a focus on fashion and softgoods. Now to be called “ispo sport & style,” the show will highlight segments that cross the lines between different sport categories, with an emphasis on apparel and footwear, and its ispovision segment will focus on the high-end style of such sports as golf, cricket and polo. Any attempt to represent outdoor as a separate community will be dropped other than how it and its brands cross-over into fashion and footwear.
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A decline in the number of exhibitors and attendees at the summer ispo show has prompted organizers to go in a different direction, leaving behind the attempt to cover all major sports by category and instead allowing the event to evolve into one with a focus on fashion and softgoods.

Now to be called “ispo sport & style,” the show will highlight segments that cross the lines between different sport categories, with an emphasis on apparel and footwear, and its ispovision segment will focus on the high-end style of such sports as golf, cricket and polo. Any attempt to represent outdoor as a separate community will be dropped other than how it and its brands cross-over into fashion and footwear.

Management said the show is simply adapting to a changing market, and acknowledging that the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen is the leader in the outdoor arena.

“In essence, the logical thing that ispo has noticed is that the consumer is multi-interested and the stores that are healthy are full spectrum, while the specialty shops are struggling a bit,” Dieter Tremp, ispo’s senior associate based in the United States, told SNEWS®. “Most of the money in the summertime is made on style and performance.

“The people who want to come to Munich want to buy for their core consumer, and they are style-oriented,” Tremp continued. “So the show should reflect that.”

Other changes: Trends and innovations will focus on start-up and young entrepreneurs, and “performance” will be the umbrella for team, running, walking and triathlon, as well as health and nutrition. What will now be called “sportstyle” (formerly “sportswear”) will expand to include beach, surf, casual outdoor, fitness and wellness, and other fashion areas. That change will kick-off at the winter 2007 show in February.

The revamped summer show, to launch in 2007 (July 8-10), comes on the heels of a 2006 event that attendees and insiders said was embarassing in its low attendance and lack of energy. One of the country’s leading business newspapers, Die Welt, at that time interviewed organizer Messe Muenchen’s CEO Manfred Wutzlhofer, asking him if there was a crisis in a story with a headline translated as, “ispo braces itself against a crisis.” Although admitting that having big-name sporting goods suppliers such as Puma, Nike and The North Face backout wasn’t helpful, Wutzlhofer denied any crisis.

Reports after the 2006 summer show stated there were 19,000 trade visitors, down slightly from the previous year’s 20,700, and 1,015 exhibitors, actually up slightly the previous year’s 915. At that time, ispo had blamed lower numbers on great summer weather and some lethargy after the just-ended boisterous World Cup.

Those numbers compare to winter ispo 2006 attendance of about 60,000, up some 10 percent over 2005’s final count of 54,433, in a show that filled 16 halls. OutDoor’s 2006 tally showed 15,500 visitors, up slightly over 2005. Note that in Europe, every day an attendee goes through automated turnstiles, his or her entrance is read and counted as a separate attendance, although multiple entrances in one day are tallied as only one.

One of the biggest points of discussion at and after the 2006 summer ispo show was the attendance allowed in one hall – the so-called “action sports hall” – by consumers. It was a first for ispo and was done, the show said at the time, based on requests from exhibitors. But the feelings expressed were strongly split. On the heels of that, Wutzlhofer told a German trade magazine that ispo was going to remain purely a trade show for the industry.

The trend toward more fashion at the show goes hand-in-hand with what the ispo Group called “an irreversible development in society towards a more informal appearance, to be more sporty and casual.”

As Manfred Wutzlhofer, CEO of organizer Messe Muenchen, said in a statement, “With ispo sport & style, we are acting in the interests of current market development. This new platform offers suppliers from the sport sector the opportunity to present their products and collections outside their classical target groups too and thus to open up new circles of customers. On the other hand, ispo sport & style opens up a contemporary platform and a new dealer clientele for trendy fashion suppliers who don’t yet feel at home at a strongly function-oriented ispo or a classical fashion fair.”

SNEWS® View: Not having a summer show partner to its highly successful winter sports show just wouldn’t do for ispo. Yet it could not compete with the outdoor segment that had been pulled away a dozen years ago into its own show called OutDoor. Losing that number of exhibitors and attendees has taken its toll, as has the evolving marketplace. The new organization could at first be a bit confusing since the six halls (seven counting a sourcing show) the summer show is expected to fill will basically be one big show, without hall labels to show what is where, although exhibitors may be grouped by segments such as trends, performance, apparel or footwear. With other fashion shows such as Bread ‘n Butter and SPOGA also offering some competition in Europe, it’ll be interesting to see if the revamp refreshes the summer show.

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