“Burton icons, Kathleen Gasperini shine at Volvo Sports Design Forum”
Label Networks was among the presenters at the prestigious Volvo Sports Design Forum focusing on women in sports design, during the ISPO Winter Trade Fair in Munich, Germany, February 5, 2005. Here’s the latest news report from the forum:
“One day prior to the start of ISPO winter ‘05, more than 720 people packed the ICM theatre within New Munich Trade Fair Centre for the Volvo Sports Design Forum. “You couldn’t have picked a better topic at a better time,” snowboard industry icon Jake Burton Carpenter told the crowd. “Every sport represented here is going to benefit from this conference, which is showing everyone that women in sports are a leading economic force.”
While Jake and his wife, Donna, were the most famous presenters of the day, they certainly weren’t the only ones to connect with the audience. Trend expert from Label Networks Kathleen Gasperini captivated the audience of industry leaders, designers, media, retailers and marketing officials with her forecast of the next five years in girls (ages 14-25) buying worldwide – which heavily emphasized action sports and technology purchases.”
Carpenter’s remark summed up a day of dynamic presentations, interviews and workshops
from a wide cross-section of women’s sports figures at the ICMCenter in Munich. The topic was “If you meet the expectations of women, you exceed the expectations of men.”
From concept car designer Anna Rosen of Volvo to three-time Olympic skier Claudia Riegler, and from ultramarathon superstar Pam Reed to women’s market trend forecaster Kathleen Gasperini, the audience received a day of information and insight that left no doubt about the vast changes women have made to the global sports landscape. Messe Munchen CEO Manfred Wutzlhofer opened the day, while visionary trend forecaster Sebastian de Diesbach of Promostyl steered the conversations along as the moderator.
“We listened very carefully to leaders in the industry when we chose this topic for 2005,” event organizer Reinhard Pascher of Pascher-Heinz Sports Marketing said. “It is clear from the forum that we successfully addressed perhaps the most important issue in sports business and sports design today.”
Added Gasperini, the Senior Vice President of Label Networks, “Girls today are so much more demanding and so much more savvy than just ten years ago. Designing for young women today has to include a global perspective. Girls can sense brands that are cool and core. They seek them out and are very brand conscious.”
The six hours of presentations and two hours of workshops featured countless highlights. Among them:
• Amid smoke, lights and great response from the audience, Volvo’s Anna Rosen revealed the exquisite concept women’s sports car she and her all-women design team created. “Just like men, women want performance, a sporty design and comfort. But a woman’s wish list is longer,” she said. “A woman also wants interior convenience, plenty of storage and a car that is user friendly.”
• Jake Burton Carpenter and Donna Carpenter presented a history of Burton as a supporter of women’s snowboarding as well as an overview of their women’s initiatives. “It wasn’t me that made girls’ riding happen,” Jake said. “It was the girls.” Added Donna, “Our restructuring of women’s soft goods was a takedown of the men’s ‘shrink it and pink it’ concept. So now we have a wall between the men and women creative teams.”
• Riegler, a four-time World Cup event champion and three-time Olympian for New Zealand, showcased Rossignol’s women’s ski products program with a fabulous presentation. “You should be enjoying yourself on the slopes and doing what you want to do,” she said. “Like many women, I’ve always been passionate about fashion and style. But I also like making hard turns on skis. That’s the thing – 43 percent of the people on the slopes are female, and not all of us are out there just to look good.”
• U.S. women’s ultramarathon record-holder Pam Reed has beaten men and women in some of the world’s hardest and longest running races – including the 210km Badwater Ultramarathon. In Munich, she won over the crowd during an interview that could have lasted an additional two hours. “I don’t like it when people try to tell me what my limits are,” she said. “I run because I love to run, and I am always trying to exceed my limits and find a new threshold – and then exceed that. It is so important for women in sports to create and break their own limits, and that’s what we are starting to do.”
• Gasperini from Label Networks had the crowd taking notes as quickly as she talked when she displayed a five-year forecast for girls ages 13 to 24 in seven different regions – the U.S., Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain and China. The numbers and choices differed greatly, but one thing was clear: The days of girls seeking out more and more action sports are here to stay. “There is incredible youth energy going on in women’s sports,” she said. “More and more, girls are going to be seeking creativity in their expression – and more sports for this expression.”
• In a presentation that revealed how effective grassroots marketing is shaping the women’s sports products scene, streetwear design innovator Heida Birgisdottir and Runar Omarrson shared how Heida’s need for sporty clothes in her native Iceland led them to close their retail stores and form Nikita Clothing, which now distributes to 30 countries. “We listened to what the girls wanted very closely,” said Omarrson as he projected actual e-mails sent to Heida, “and plus, as a snowboarder and champion motocross racer, Heida knew exactly what she would want to wear herself. Now she has the clothes she needs.”
• Like Anna Rosen, Moni Wolf of Motorola iDEN showcased a traditional non-sports technology – in her case, mobile phones and hand-held communicators – to underscore the importance of products that fulfill women’s needs. “Women do many things differently than men – they think, respond, react and communicate much differently than men,” she said.
• August Stangl of Therm-ic showed up with a product all women want – remote-control hand and foot warmers. His presentation underscored the value of solid research on the woman’s body to create effective products. “We found that women’s faces and feet freeze more quickly than men,” he said. “So instead of just making them have a bad experience on a ski or snowboard trip, why not give them a very easy-to-use product that warms their feet?”
• Barbara Strobl-Wiedergut closed the Volvo SportsDesign Forum with a point-to-point look at Salomon’s “Women Will” initiative, which demonstrated how the more forward thinking brands are creating entirely new product lines, marketing plans and merchandising strategies specifically for women. “We have made women’s products for seven years, but now, for these products, many of our designers, engineers, webmaster and marketing people are women,” she said. “This goes for snow, dirt and asphalt.”
The Volvo SportsDesign Forum also featured a wonderful workshop on color palettes and trends from WGSN experts Danielle Sellwood and Catriona MacNab, as well as a dazzling street art display coordinated by graphic designer Christian Hundertmark. Later, four top street artists auctioned off panels they painted during the day, with the winning bid topping out at 3,500 Euro ($4,500US). The other workshops, which also drew standing room-only crowds, included Interactive Communication with Daniel Spikol, Calle Erickson and Stine Schjott-Quist; and Whiplash – A Pain in the Neck with Lotta Jakobbson.
The Volvo SportsDesign Forum was presented by Volvo and ispo. Plans are already underway for the fifth installment of the event, which will take place the day prior to ispo winter 06 in February, 2006. For more information, go to the event website at www.ispo-sportsdesign.com.