ISPO Munich 2020 Retrospective
by INTERN Techwear Corp.
ISPO Munich 2020 Retrospective
by INTERN Techwear Corp.
More than 80,000 people filled 16 buildings large enough to store commercial jetliners, buzzing like flies around the latest and greatest gear on show from thousands of brands across the outdoor gear industry. From urban wear to mountain gear, yoga clothes to running kit… every category of outdoor adventure is on show. ISPO is the industry's largest trade fair and showcase; the venue where brands connect with buyers, and where the coming seasons clothing and equipment are revealed for the first time to the public eye.
For the consumers watching the trip reports from home, ISPO is often the first glimpse of the clothing and equipment coming to market next year. For those lucky souls who have the privilege of attending ISPO, it's a wild playground of hands-on examinations, discussions with the designers behind the brands, and a peek behind the scenes into the pulse of the industry and the trends it follows.
With over 2000 journalists and bloggers attending ISPO there's no shortage of coverage on the next generation of products soon to hit the streets. INTERN wants to share a lesser told perspective of the show, sharing with you the emerging new technologies on display, the next generation of textiles, the industry's insane new focus on sustainability, and the manufacturing techniques you can look out for.
No waste manufacturing, garments knit on 1 machine in minutes, sew-free constructions, on-demand manufacturing… The next few years of product releases are building a huge gap between what's been done in the past. There was far too much excitement on display to list here, so we're going to touch on just a few innovations and explain how we think they're making big moves in the future of apparel.
Low volume manufacturing
Number one was the incredible volume of manufacturers and suppliers willing to provide low volume support, this shift from the typical requirement of 1000's of units to 100s opens the door to a whole new world where smaller brands and start-ups can have the same access to materials, technologies, and manufacturing that the largest brands have been sharing for years. We can't wait to see the new ideas that come to the market with this new level of access for the common maker!
Whole garment knitting
Here at INTERN we're pretty obsessed with knit technology and keep ourselves close to the latest advances. There are few technologies in garment manufacture as game-changing as the emergence of machines capable of knitting entire garments in a single manufacturing step, on a single machine, without human support once setup. We spent some time with the company leading the charge with this garment knitting concept Shima Seiki, more on them below.
Custom hardware and trims
3D printing is having an impact in a lot of manufacturing markets these days and fashion is no different. The markets we're seeing take the greatest advantage of this, beyond the shoe soles and customized product fits are the hardware, buckle and trim suppliers. 3D printing and rapid prototyping has allowed many vendors to now offer reasonably priced and lower minimum custom development. Custom hardware has always been exclusive to the giants of industry, and a great bit of unique hardware can be the critical component that makes a product stand out in the market. Much like the enthusiasm we have for the access of textiles, this new dawn of custom buckles has us holding our breath for what comes next.
We have a broad range of souls here at INTERN, with varied histories and specialties in the fashion industry, but we all share one deadfast common opinion: we are sick and tired of nylon and polyester… we desperately want new shit to play with!

Finally the industry is responding and the world of materials science is making huge steps forward spurred on by the call for sustainability. Biopolymers, covalently bonded composites, genetically modified silkworms spinning spider silks, liquid crystal polymers… and so much more. Not only did we see new compositions, we saw new abilities on display as well: conductive and illuminated fabrics and trims, reactive textiles that open up pores to breathe better when warm, PFC-free and solvent-free membranes and coatings, just to name a few.
Researchers around the world are throwing out tradition and finding whole new approaches to textile development, and whole new sources for the ingredients needed to make the sophisticated polymers which are spun into the textiles used in technical outerwear. Corn husks, coffee, seaweed, and mushrooms are just a few of the wild new methods being taken to spin the yarns of the future.

For the first time in over a decade it feels like there's a call to arms to innovate and blaze new trails. We can't wait to see how these technologies end up being used in the next gen of performance driven clothing… the future looks bright!
Green, organic, eco, sustainable… words thrown around a lot in the consumer market, so much so they've lost meaning. This is especially true when it's being shouted from one of the largest sources of environmental damage and greenhouse gas production anywhere on earth - the fashion industry. INTERN is here to tell you that beneath all the fluff and bullshit there are some really incredible brands making big moves to lessen the impact clothing production has on the planet.
It was a bit of a laugh walking the floor and reading how nearly every single booth is now recycled, made from waste, carbon-neutral, and so on… at first glance you could walk away thinking that the industry has overcome its challenges already and is now operating in greener pastures… unfortunately most of these claims are surface deep, and although a step in the right direction is still galaxies away from being truly sustainable.
The short summary is: the industry is doing a lot to lessen its footprint, to improve its sustainability, to make right its wrong… it is clearly a huge goal industry-wide and exciting to see the move. In the end, it will take years to change the course of the whole market. We at INTERN look forward to seeing the emergence of fully circular product life cycles, where there is as much effort put into handling products at end-of-life as there is into the product design itself.
Shima Seiki
Leaders in knitting technology, Shima Seiki were showing their whole garment knitting machines abilities. They've developed a machine capable of seamlessly knitting an entire garment in a single step, no cutting, no sewing, no fabric… garments are knit directly from the yarns. In a sort of T-1000 version of your grandma knitting you a sweater, INTERN watched as their machine printed us a shirt in only 20 minutes.
Delta & Time
We ran into the team behind delta & time walking the floor in search of suppliers and manufacturing partners. That evening we found ourselves sharing dinner and (a few too many) drinks with the radical design duo Christo Timeo and Frans Deltas, who are the minds behind an upcoming brand called Delta&Time. In a market where everyone is trying to sell you their version of the ideal product, Christo and Frans decided to flip the card and develop their vision of making any product ideal. With an earth shattering new approach to garment fit and patterning, they've worked for years to develop a new way of thinking about garment construction and manufacture. They didn't set out to make the perfect coat, they built a mechanism to allow any brand or retailer to build their perfect coat (or pant, or sweater, or leggings or whatever else), within a manufacturing method that yields better products, faster for less cost. We're looking forward to the disruption they bring to market later this year, by commoditizing technical design for the mass market and backing it with strong manufacturing support.
ByBorre has developed an incredibly unique approach to textile development for their customers. World leaders in knitting technology, they are now offering an exciting new project they call the TDK (Textile development kit). Participant customers are able to use this TDK process to engineer a blend of yarns, and knit patterns to an exacting performance and aesthetic. Their technology is completely unique, their approach is pretty unprecedented, and the quality of their work is unlike anything we've seen before. It's no surprise that we saw ByBorre all over the show, being used for the newest collections from Adidas Terrex, Woolmark, Descente Allterrain and so many more. We were so impressed with what we saw that we took the train from Munich down to Amsterdam to visit the ByBorre studio after ISPO.
Every so often a new type of product hits the market that is so radically different from what's come before that it inspires a new generation of design, and whole new approaches to solving old problems. Fidlock is every bit this new type of product, and not just one… they offer an entire catalog of radically innovative magnetic buckles, snaps, and hardware. This year they came to show with a large expansion of their product offerings and some thoughtfully considered evolutions to their existing line-up. From hats to clothing, shoes to bags, even bicycles… They have a hardware solution for nearly every need.
Benq X-Pore
Ever since Gore-Tex hit the markets over 25 years ago the outdoor market has been coo-coo for cocopuffs over waterproof breathable technology. There are a lot of brands and options of the market today that offer membranes and coatings that make textiles 'waterproof'. In reality most fall short, and it has become a marketing battle for the best water resistance… we're due a quantum leap forward, an entirely new approach, and X-Pore from BenQ is exactly that. Jet Fighters in the age of prop-planes X-pore is the most exciting innovation to emerge in the WPB market we've ever seen.
Technology doesn't always have to be a constant forward push for reckless innovation, sometimes you find a company that has used all the latest developments in technology to simply improve what they do. Classic style with a high-tech core, Falke is an incredible example of this type of thinking, making great heritage designs with the most modern approaches to manufacture. They've meticulously found a way to pack all the latest performance wants into astonishingly crafted heritage garments, a real standout on the show floor.
Descente Allterrain
Descente has been at the absolute peak of the market since they first stepped into it, every season they show the world what's possible with obsession meets design and a thorough understanding of the capability of some of the best garment manufacturers in the world. On display at the show this year was the finest example of 3D-knit garments to have ever hit the market. A wonderfully over considered sweater/pant combo made using the latest in engineered knit manufacturing technology; in it, a function is engineered into every stitch and zone-mapped to the precise location needed in the garment.
Photo-highlights of ISPO 2020

More articles, reviews and interviews by TECHWEAR INTERN for TECHUNTER are coming soon.

Article and photo credits: INTERN Techwear Corp.
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