… between megacity and k2 …

What´s next in sports?

The world moves faster every day. Social, cultural and economic changes are driven by technological progress. What themes will influence sports and sports apparel collections in the future?

Sport has become an important social and economic factor in modern societies.
Both the demographic change in many countries and the changes in the way of living have significant impacts on sport.

Within the last decade the developments in sports apparel have been mainly marked by two aspects:

  1. Going to extremes (function & protection are everything)
  2. Inner balance (striving for well-being – emotionally and physically)

Concerning “Going to extremes”: In this area innovation comes mainly from fabrics and the appropriate manufacturing. Ever more perfect, ever more protective. But:
Water column will sooner or later reach its peak and the weight of fabrics cannot drop below zero – what now?

50 years ago future used to be glamorous, bright & shiny with easy travels through the endless space. Now as we are living this future, we see that future has grown old and somehow dirty … Causing problems …

Several mega-trends influence our way of life and therefore sport, too. Let´s take a closer look.

Shrinking markets in the developed countries, old populations

Does that really mean “no future”? It is a challenge for design to take a close look at these fastidious consumers – they may be less dynamic, but don´t they live more sustainable, do they? Their lifestyles, emotions and needs require specific products, also in sports. Why don´t create them?

Diversity vs. homogenization

Though globalization has a strong homogenizing impact on modern life, differences are kept due to specific social, cultural, historic and geographic framework. And within the last decade we have seen that people seek ways to express and showcase individuality.

Endless cities
More and more people live in urban spaces with millions of inhabitants – nature is out of reach in daily life, people stay in town.
What we already see as results of this development:
Sports which have been traditionally outdoor sports go indoors and create new varieties due to the new setting. Requests for more indoor spaces increase.

Cities are perfect stages for the individual therefore we also see new sports developing, using the urban playground (parkour).

Sharing and DIY in a globalized world

Sharing and DIY are movements spreading all over the world. From community gardens to social networks, sharing is the keyword of the moment. What does this mean for apparel collections? The consumer wants to act as “co-creator”. Incorporate interaction with the “user” right from the beginning – thus creating clothes which become part of the personal story of the individual.

Climate change – global warming
Global warming is changing significantly landscapes and vegetation thus provoking serious impacts on outdoor sports.

Sustainability and more …
No need to say more: Sustainability is a bare necessity. But think even further: Imitate also the “closed” lifecycles in nature. Create a product which doesn´t end up as waste but feeds new lifecycles. The clothing industry has a particular responsibility in this field as it fuels fast living and consuming societies across the globe.

Looking at these developments, some predictions for the development of sports are arising:

  • Going to extremes will shrink – nearly all parts of the world are mapped, what hasn´t been done up to now? Only few things remain …
  • In the emerging markets the sport attitude cannot be compared to the classic western way.
  • Inner balance sports will increase due to the need of a counterbalance to highly demanding and insecure living conditions.
  • Soft sports gain ground, easily to perform, without practising them for years

Some recommendations for developing apparel collections:

Changes in lifestyles and living conditions offer new creative opportunities – look at these! Combine creative imagination and technical know-how to work on innovative solutions. Dare to be different and think about design which is more than decorating the surface.

Let´s take the chances!


Nora Kuehner
Presentation at Performance Days shows in Munich/ Germany, November 22, 2011
and Annecy/ France, November 24, 2011.

© Nora Kühner