I read this really interesting article from The Business of Fashion about the rise in popularity of trail-running and the fact that both well-established activewear megabrands like Nike and Asics, as well as start-ups like Norda and Satisfy, are experiencing a booming demand for trail-gear.
There are some really powerful statements in the piece that demonstrate the growing power and influence of performance footwear and technical clothing, like from co-founder of Norda, Nick Martire who says “Performance is a lifestyle now. Particularly in menswear, it’s no longer about the watch you own, it’s about what the sneakers on your feet say about you as a person”.
People taking to the trend of trail-running do not just want to wear performance trail-gear while actually partaking in the sport, they want to wear the shoes and the technical clothing in everyday life as a way of showing that it is a part of who they are. In the article, trail-gear start-up Satisfy’s creator, Brice Partouche, compares trail culture to skateboarding culture for this reason, and you can definitely see a correlation. It is entirely normal for a skateboarder to still wear their half-cabs when not actually practising in the skate park.
I wonder if we will see trail culture become as mainstream as skateboarding culture. After all, these days it is hard to believe that every person you see in a pair of Vans has spent time practising ollies, or that every person in Converse shoots hoops. With the increased durability and quality required of trail-gear to cope with the sometimes treacherous conditions, we’re already seeing this kit break into the mainstream. According to the article, Salomon’s trail shoes are favourites of celebrities like Rihanna and Bella Hadid, casual road-runners are increasingly purchasing trail-gear for the extra durability provided and trends like “gorpcore” are increasing demand for outdoor technical footwear and clothing for every day wear.
Brands have clearly spotted an opportunity to make the most of the trail-running trend, with an increasing number of brand collaborations, sponsorship deals and partnerships with trail-running influencers in this space.
With my trade mark attorney hat on, any brand looking at entering the trail-gear market should check that their current trade mark protection covers what they are planning to do. Considering the variable conditions involved, trail-running does require some specialist kit that might fall outside the “usual” classes of goods and services associated with activewear.