Out and About

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As the temperature heats up, licensees, licensors, and retailers are gearing up for this year's Outdoor Retailer trade show to be held August 12 to 15 in the Salt Place Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT. With more than 920 exhibitors as of press time, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market caters to manufacturers and distributors of spring and summer outdoor lifestyle apparel and products, as well as owners and managers of specialty outdoor, backpacking, and sporting goods retail stores. Total attendance in 2003 rose to 17,909 from 16,848 the previous year, and buyers increased to 5,481 from 5,281. Retail stores saw a slight drop from 2,900 in 2002 to 2,796 in 2003. According to published reports, more buyers and fewer stores could mean several things, from local stores sending a large number of employees and registering them all as buyers to larger stores sending a full team of buyers each with a special category focus. Regardless, the increase in overall attendance is a good sign. "There is a definite vibrancy that has emerged within the outdoor market, evinced by the number of companies that are focusing product launches, new initiatives, and efforts on products and activities for the outdoors," explains Outdoor Retailer Show Director Peter Devin. As well-crafted, outdoor lifestyle and casual apparel continues to gain momentum, attracting more mainstream consumers along the way, it's no wonder that more and more companies are exploring opportunities in licensing.

New Sierra Club product lines and concepts debuted at Licensing 2004 International Show in June and also will be shown at Outdoor Retailer, including men's and women's apparel and outerwear; footwear; notecards, holiday cards, knowledge decks, journals; organic coffees and teas; and wines made from organically grown grapes. In addition, eyewear, watches, small leather goods, and home textiles are target categories for brand extension.

The Sierra Club teamed with ISDA & CO of San Francisco on its women's apparel collections for fall 2004. The apparel is being brought to market in two deliveries—the first of which was last month, while the second will take place in September. The July rollout featured electric brights and sport-inspired fabrications, as well as resin-printed organic cotton, printed knitwear, and unique styling in fleece. The September delivery will offer wool, corduroy, and organic brushed cottons with earthy autumnal browns and cranberry colorations. Sierra Club apparel is available in better apparel and men's furnishings stores, as well as better outdoor stores nationwide. Johanna O'Kelley, director of the Sierra Club's licensing program, explains that the line will allow a broad range of people, beyond those traditionally reached by the Sierra Club, to get involved in protecting the environment through everyday actions as consumers.

The company also formed a partnership with Signature Wines to offer Sierra Club brand wines under the Sierra Club Atira Vineyards label. New additions Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir will join Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay in late 2004. In addition, The Sierra Club inked a deal with Sacred Grounds Organic Coffee Roasters to sell certified organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffees and fair-trade organic teas under the Sierra Club name.

National Geographic will showcase outdoor accessories, watches, and apparel at this year's show. Each collection has been field-tested by explorers, researchers, photographers, and writers as part of the company's "Gear on Assignment" program to ensure the products are authentic and functional. The newest addition to the company's licensing program, via an agreement with EganaGoldpfeil USA, is the National Geographic Explorer's Watch Collection for men, which made its U.S. debut at the JCK show in Las Vegas in June. The collection features seven separate lines and two stand-alone styles. The National Geographic Carabiner Tool, developed by National Geographic and Kershaw Knives, with the help of National Geographic filmmaker Brian Harvey, features a knife blade, flat- and Phillips-head screwdrivers, bottle opener, and carabiner. National Geographic also teamed up with Citiwell Optical on a collection of binoculars and telescopes, and LEKI USA, Inc., on a line of trekking poles available at outdoor specialty stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, the company will highlight its collection of National Geographic men's outdoor apparel made by Block Industries. Features include lightweight materials, weatherproof technologies, and moisture-control fabrics, as well as organizer pockets and detachable compartments.

"From our perspective," explains National Geographic Senior Vice President of Licensing John Dumbacher, "the trend that seems to be more prevalent today than in the past is a blurring of the lines between products for the home, travel, and work. As different facets of people's lives interconnect, so, too, do the products, and people want products that transcend all of those areas." In essence, he notes, "great performance products now have become an everyday staple for people's lives." The National Geographic apparel collection will launch this fall at outdoor retailers, department stores, and specialty stores and also will be available through mail order. For the first time at Outdoor Retailer, National Geographic will present a sampling of its other licensed products. According to Dumbacher, "We will be able to present the entire licensing lifestyle of National Geographic, which provides retailers with a much clearer vision of our program."

Jeep Consumer Products will roll out a new line of watches at Outdoor Retailer, manufactured and produced under license from DaimlerChrysler Corporation. The deal was brokered by The Joester Loria Group, Jeep's exclusive worldwide merchandising agency. Available this fall (suggested retails range from $100 to $250), the family of outdoor-inspired Jeep watches from Pevazi, Inc., will offer six different collections—Trail, Earth Colors, Outdoor, Sky, Retro, and Divers—and more than 100 models for men and women. Certain models will incorporate special functions such as chronographs, world timers, compasses, moon phases, dual time, alarms, aviation functions, and 12/24-hour time indicators. The line debuted at JCK in June. "Based on the response we had, we accomplished our goal of creating a unique lifestyle watch program for both men and women that encompasses the true essence of the Jeep brand," says Jeep Watches COO Frank Salzano.

Woolrich will highlight its spring 2005 sportswear and outerwear collections for men and women. In terms of licensed product, the company will continue to sell gloves (Manzella Productions, Inc.) and slippers (Elan-Polo, Inc.) for immediate orders. Also on tap is a new hat line from F&M Hats.

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