Accessibility, climate-resilience, new ‘non-negotiables’ in booming outdoor economy

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Brands can prioritize climate-resilient solutions and help people of all abilities and backgrounds find their happy place in nature as accessibility and climate-resilience will be the new non-negotiables in the booming outdoor economy, according to trend forecaster WGSN.

“Rethink production cycles to plan for depleting material resources, and create products that will protect consumers from erratic and extreme weather patterns,” Elizabeth Tan, strategist at WGSN Insight, said in a sample report.
To prioritize climate-resilient solutions, Tan underscored the need to create products that enable consumers to continue their outdoor lifestyles despite sudden changes in weather.

“Brace for extreme living as a result of climate change, which will lead to traditional summer activities extending into autumn. It will also cause the rise of cooler nocturnal outdoor lifestyles in countries where daytime temperatures are becoming inhospitable,” she said.

Tan said it is also imperative to develop production cycles and material usage that is more sustainable as the end of resource abundance nears.

The report cited outdoor brand Salomon which conducted a life cycle assessment of its ski, snowboarding and winter outdoor accessories to measure and track their environmental impact, and then posted the results online, demonstrating how brands can be leaders in eco-accountability.

To make the outdoors accessible to people with disabilities, brands are advised to leverage new technologies to create products and services to ensure people living with disabilities have equal opportunity to experience the outdoors.

“Knowledge is power, so use AI (artificial intelligence) to provide underserved enthusiasts with accurate and tailored information before they embark on outdoor adventures,” it said.

They can also align with the Big Ideas 2025 theme of Flex-Abilities by creating adaptive outdoor gear that meets the needs of disabled consumers, it added.

The report said New York-based Esper Bionics has embarked on a project to build a bionic hand by using machine learning to analyze the way a wearer uses a prosthetic hand.

This information will teach the machine to predict the intended movement in the future, and could be used to help more people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors, it said.

The report added United Kingdom brand Dryrobe’s all-weather Dryrobe Adapt coat is designed for people using wheelchairs. It features tapered hems that do not obstruct the wheels, and an elasticated drawcord to make it easy for the wearer to adjust the length.

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