The Outdoor Industry: A Force for Change

The Outdoor Industry: A Force for Change

The snowy mountains of Utah served as a stunning backdrop for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (ORWM) in Salt Lake City, Utah this month. With many changes taking place in the political landscape, attendees may have sensed concern for the outlook of their outdoor playgrounds. However, the “Force for Meaningful Change” campaign that Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) launched captures the momentum that’s in work within the outdoor industry.

Highlights from ORWM that illustrates this force of optimism include:

  • Longevity Milestones
  • Business as a “Force for Positive Change”
  • Collaboration – The Higg Index

Product longevity is a commitment that the outdoor industry has exemplified through decades of delivering against this pledge. Champagne glasses clinked in honor of Invista Cordura’s “50 years of Durability” which they celebrate this year. The Cordura brand has provided an opportunity for brands to deliver longevity to brands for decades. Cordura’s durability story forges ahead with an innovation platform for brands such as Woolrich, Levi’s, Carhartt and The North Face…just to name a few!

Another initiative in support of product longevity is the work being done within the framework of a ‘Circular Economy’ at The Renewal Workshop (TRW). At TRW apparel brands may transform their unsellable or returned inventory to retain the highest value of the products. Designers may now design for repair or disassembly of the products that they create.

“Our voices matter, but actions speak the loudest” shares Rose Marcario, CEO and President of Patagonia, during the Thought-Leader Keynote breakfast hosted by Camber Outdoors. Marcario spoke about the unique role that businesses play and how they can be a “force for positive change”. Marcario added that the outdoor industry is poised as a catalyst for change during a pivotal time in history because of the work that individuals and brands have modeled through their actions.

The Higg Index marks five years since it’s launch and is recognized as the “capstone of collaboration” for the industry. The index is a self-assessment standard to measure environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain. This index empowers brands, retailers and suppliers to identify and drive improvement in sustainability. And now retailers REI and MEC are urging brands to adopt use of the Higg Index to further expand it’s use,

“Time is short and our industry must be ready to make big changes because of the work that’s been done and the position that we are now in” shared Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor at Green Biz, during his keynote presentation at ORWM ’17. Makower added that sustainability is critical to driving innovation, product quality, supply chain transparency and improvement within a resource-constrained world. He shared that today “consumers are seeking a vision from brands about what is possible, and he added that people want to hear about hope and possibilities”. Makower appealed to our imagination by asking, ”what would it take”?

With this force of momentum in action, the industry is well poised to send a clear and united message to our elected officials about protection of our playgrounds.