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ISPO Munich 2014:

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This week I made the trip to the wintersports trade fair ISPO in Munich. I’ve been visiting the show on and off since 1998 and last made the journey in 2011. The well known ski brands are pretty much what you’d expect – big pine stands, low on creativity, big on logos. It’s usually the up and coming brands that make an effort. One change was the in flux of fashion brands with a wintersports range gathered together in the “Sportstyle” halls. Particularly Emporio Armani, Lacroix, and Descente, with big video walls and neon lighting. Lighting, particularly neon, was a big trend throughout the show. And colour, much more and varied colour in product displays than was the case a few years ago. Daft-Punk-robots-esque mannequins with gloss and chrome finishes, helmets and goggles. Tech-product innovations becoming ever more a reality – one of the busiest stands was the Go-Pro camera stand… high end AND practical technology.

The traditional aesthetic of skate culture was still present but considerably less than previously. Scooter riders (rather than board, skate or BMX) filled the half pipes. K2 and Volcom stayed true to a grunge language but it looked old, contrived and marginalised. ISPO is not a core skate or boarder’s show but the reality is that board culture has been mainstream for a long time – the visual language hasn’t evolved in 20 years. The market is much less tribal than it was. It is possible to be a pro-skater AND choose not to wear the prescribed skater fashion, or listen to angry garage punk bands. One exception was RIDE’s car breaker’s yard stand, built around an abandoned car with rusting metal parts, cage walls and stone covered floor. Ambitious, well made, good attention to detail and it was popular. It was also noticeable that ISPO’s piped music was from the 90’s – Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, etc. The 20 year old soundtrack at odds with much of the product and stand designs following a glossy modernist boutique style.

EA7 Emporio Armani

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A big black and white stand with mannequins arranged in red, black and white regiments before a huge video screen and giant three-dimensional EA7 logotype.

Lacroix

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Inventive hoops of white neon which turned on and off in waves rising up the models from floor to ceiling.

Descente

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Awarded best stand – a simple curved video wall with mannequins arranged at intervals.

Nike Snowboard

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Neon branding on the walls and on the ceiling.

Uvex

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Both the outskirts of the stand and display booths on it were underlit with a floor line of magenta neon – a consistent visual thread that gave the stand cohesion.

Lighting and Neons

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Neon was a popular device at this year’s show.

Ride and skate culture

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The skate culture visual cliché is struggling to evolve and stay relevant. Its authenticity is continuously eroded due to the relentless exploitation by boy-bands, soft drinks companies and makers of healthy snacks for kids. Consequently it appeals to a progressively younger demographic.

Scooter riders and their audience

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Posted: January 30th, 2014
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