A Natural Revival

Icebreaker displays how function meets nature in S/S20.

Cultural trends like wellness festivals, mindful-fitness programs and doctor prescribed “outdoor therapy” (seriously) are reflected in the Industry’s back to nature outlook. Snow Peak decorated its booth at the Outdoor Retailer trade show with greenery and giant ferns; Muck Boots celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a Garden Party to raise funds for Denver Urban Gardens (DUG).

Within textiles, the resurgence of natural fibers continues for the season ahead with collections featuring offerings of cottons, Tencel, lightweight summer wools, alpaca, and assorted blends. But hemp cornered the market as the attention-getter at Summer Market. The good news is that hemp offers plenty of opportunities. Missing, however, is the ability to process hemp domestically — specifically, textile grade hemp fiber. Once this essential step is developed, execs say, the viability of a sustainable U.S. based hemp supply chain comes into focus. “Ultimately this will result in a win for farmers, a win for the environment and win for outdoor community and consumers” said David Petri, founder, Cynosura Consulting, who moderated an excellent panel discussion on the topic.

North Carolina is leading in hemp research and constructing a local value chain including the ability for hemp to be spun into yarns and blended with cotton or other fibers. “This will give way to a new generation of natural fiber technical textiles,” explained Tom McCall, innovation director at Cap Yarns, and a 40-year veteran of the textile business.

Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, speaking at another panel, had this to say: “Hemp is a carbon sequestering phyto-remediating, fast growing plant. It is a renewable resource that when cultivated with regenerative agriculture techniques can clean and build the soil.”  In today’s outdoor industry Beckerman’s statement is perfectly on trend.