Wool is Popular at Outdoor ShowASI staff attended the annual Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in January in Denver. While ASI’s policy priorities and outdoor retailers are not always aligned – see Patagonia’s response to the administration’s efforts to reduce Monument designations consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act – the outdoor market is tremendously valuable for the wool industry.
“Wool is a true performance fiber,” said Rita Samuelson, ASI Director of Wool Marketing. “As a natural fiber, it is biodegradable. That alone is appealing for outdoor enthusiasts. Add to that wool’s durability, odor resistance and moisture management, and you have a fiber that can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s ideally suited for an active lifestyle, as both a base layer and outer layer.”
The outdoor apparel market continues to see impressive growth, with consumers spending $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation. Wool is a small part of that, and while it’s difficult to pin an exact number on it, wool is about 1.5 percent of international fiber consumption.
“This is a growth market. Every year we come to the OR show we see new vendors using wool and new concepts for wool,” said Samuelson. “Many of those innovations are from companies we know well and have had a long relationship with such as Pendleton, Duckworth and Farm to Feet. Our job is to continue to tell manufactures the great story of American wool and help them find new uses for this performance fiber.”
Questions around sustainability and animal care are top of mind for outdoor retailers, responding to consumers who demand to know more about the products they buy.