Alpkit at a show reserved for the Outdoors Industry! Sounds fishy, everyone knows they do not sell through distributors or retail stores. The truth is that we have been going to European Outdoor at Friedrichshafen since way back when. It all started when Nick and Jim were working for previous companies. In those days they had a trade stand, in fact they built their own trade stand and courted buyers, distributors, press and young hopefulls looking for sponsorship. Since starting Alpkit we go for different reasons, we meet suppliers, we catch up with old friends, we see what funky things other brands are doing and we ride the mechanical bull! In many respects the tables have been turned, we get to eat their snacks and for us at least it is a lot more chilled out. Outdoor show vetran Nick and Outdoor noobie Jenni walk the halls.
Trying to ignore all the great parties for a moment the other really important reason for going is to meet our suppliers, talk through existing products and plan new ones, it sure does cut out a lot of travelling. We have a weird relationship with some of our suppliers, not in a terrible way, not through lack of experience, but as we have grown as a company so we have raised what we expect from our suppliers. We have proven over the years that although our range is small and eclectic Alpkit can mosh as good as the next brand, and in the case of some products sell more than many of the big distributors.
The Patagonia and Arc'teryx stands were full of very beautiful and inspiring clothes and equipment. I hadn't realised just how big either brand was. They've simply never really cropped up on my radar when I've been buying kit. Is it because I'm shopping in the wrong places or are they totally under-represented in the UK?
However we just couldn't sign up on the dotted line because they work with REI who sell one of their items for US$80 and all their new European partners where happy to sell this particular item for €85. We have looked at all the shipping costs, sales taxes and duty rates and there is no reason for this disparity in price. The simple reason was these European companies were willing to accept the difference, not one of them questioned it. These are big companies with clever people, but they are happy to pay more for stuff than they need to.
So despite the fact that we didn't sign the deal, we still want to sign then up. And they know it, in fact we told them that, and we hope they are wrong with their strategy. In a strange way we got the feeling that they might think we are right as well.
Good things come to those that wait. For 8 years we have wanted to work with a particular factory, that's a little before Alpkit started but that's just how it is in the world of product development. Anyway finally we are getting to work with one of the best factories of their type to manufacture our products. We got to speak to their Big Cheese and he like the sound of what we want to do, so although we already make these products only now can we really start to kick some butt. It is going to mean an increase in price but it does mean the product will be awesome.
There were lots of men at Outdoor. There weren’t so many women. Is this representative of the outdoor industry? If so, I wonder why this is? Is it because, in order to work in the industry, you often have a background in a sport that you enjoy and that women feel that such activities are more suited for their male counterparts or is it that they are simply not as interested in the outdoors and the associated industry as men are?
New Trainers by New Balance. For me this was just an example of a brand finally making a product that I would by from them. Ever since Chris Townsend talked about using NB575 in his PCT walks. I've always had a soft spot for NB but never actually thought about buying them.
European Outdoor is Europes leading trade fair for the outdoors industry