Of the many trends that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated in the US and Europe, the sharp increase in city dwellers seeking outdoor experiences represents a significant opportunity for brands. As urban and outdoor lifestyles merge, today’s young urban consumers are seeking to integrate a growing interest in outdoor activities with their city lifestyles. Its objective is to achieve a lifestyle that unites the urban with nature. Currently, after a year of restrictions as a result of COVID-19, the initial intentions regarding permanent flight from cities is being widely refuted. Prolonged visits to natural settings and the increasing popularity of activities such as hiking, bird watching, and cycling are more significant than just being away from cities. In addition, the repercussion of the worldwide movement “Black Lives Matter” has caused a reconsideration of the spaces traditionally conquered by white people, such as climbing, fishing or camping. The creation of a campaign to “diversify the outdoors” dedicated to advocating for blacks in the outdoors has resulted in the emergence of community groups, such as Team Onyx, the first team of professional expedition made up entirely of black people.
With a mission to make adventure sports more inclusive for the BIPOC and LGTBIQ communities, Team Onyx competes in expedition races across the board, including swimming, surfing, rowing, climbing, racing and cycling. . Another major group is Hike Clerb, a Los Angeles women’s interracial hiking club. Its mission is to make hiking more accessible and approachable for women of all backgrounds and classes, with an emphasis on group healing of a community hiking trail. Groups like these are examples of how millennials and Gen Z increasingly demand diversity and inclusion as a core element of cultural identity. Diverse and accessible testimonials, and influencers, free consumers to dare to openly explore their passions, as well as to expand their identities, making outdoor spaces more accessible to new generations of consumers. As the demand for well-being grows ubiquitous, post-pandemic consumers seek activity, connection and relaxation in nature, but without giving up their interests and aspects of identity, so ingrained in urban life.
Urban / nature-loving consumers shop in line with trends and value aesthetic continuity and technical performance across the board. They identify with brands that address their identities, unifying form and function, while at the same time blurring urban sensibilities with those of nature lovers. The pandemic has made city wear more technical, more comfort-focused and more casual. Current trends in streetwear and sportswear converge with a rapidly expanding and diversifying wellness market, and with the trends in outdoor clothing. The outdoor clothing market is projected to grow $ 3.9 billion between 2020 and 2024, as the global consumer base becomes more urban. Currently, more than 34 percent of outdoor gear customers live in cities, and this share is expected to increase over the next few years. This means that the mixing of both spheres will be increased. A recent report on the outdoor activities industry suggests that young people and other urban consumers of outdoor activities are currently the main influencers in the market. Their spending habits are especially focused on clothes for outdoor activities, and they are more likely to influence the buying and activity decisions of their social circles. One of the main conclusions of the report is that these consumers do not consider themselves “traditionally lovers of outdoor activities”, as many discovered these activities in adulthood.
The best examples in their category
As urban culture merges with nature lover culture, a gap emerges between high-performance-focused outdoor clothing offerings and urban sportswear brands. The most technologically advanced brands that are entering this market are having success, considering what separates Patagonia from Nike, there is a niche market between both brand concepts. While urban sports firms such as Nike and Adidas satisfy the aesthetic needs of these consumers, it is also true that they fall short by not offering products and designs with an identity focused on outdoor activities. On the other side are traditional outdoor clothing brands such as Patagonia and REI, which clearly articulate their identities, but are often aesthetically disconnected from urban consumers. In the American market, this gap is covered in a representative way by a small group of brands, such as Outdoor Voices, The North Face and Girlfriend Collective. However, this new mass of consumers seeks to connect with brands that satisfy an urban aesthetic. The current cultural moment demands products made for 7 days a week, both for the city and for the forest.
The Japanese influence on urban clothing and outdoor activities
The hybrid lifestyle of the Japanese, between urban and nature, is a compelling example of what can happen in the West. These brands are born from the traditional Japanese vocation to balance life in the city with time in nature. In particular, many of them emerged in the 1980s, as a result of a reaction against an excessively demanding business culture, as well as the widespread interest of urban consumers in balancing their urban lifestyle and outdoor leisure . Currently, two-thirds of workers experience job burnout as a result of teleworking, while the increase in cases of “nature contact deficit disorder” points to our desire for outdoor experiences.
Japanese brands, rooted in craftsmanship, material integrity and hyper-functionality, express the DNA of clothing for outdoor activities in an urban context with a strong emphasis on aesthetics. For example, workwear with a hint of mountaineering. With a strong aesthetic sensibility, these brands lean towards gender neutrality and offer consumers a compelling vision of what functional and progressive urban and outdoor duality means. In Japan, the successful mix of urban culture with nature-loving culture effortle
ssly attracts devotees of streetwear, lovers of traditional outdoor gear, and unrepresented Westerners. by the orthodoxy and tradition of this segment in the United States.
The urban / outdoor style represents an opportunity in a changing landscape in both the intercovid market and the post-pandemic market. Thinking ahead, it represents a global trend on a larger scale about how consumers are shaping their identity in response to a social climate of inclusion, self-care and integration with nature. By acknowledging the reality of consumers’ lives, brands meet them in their reality, accepting their global identity as urban dwellers and nature enthusiasts. Leveraging the urban and outdoor mindset enables brands to respond to consumer demand for aesthetic continuity in all their purchasing decisions. Products created to be durable and for use in a wide range of activities are more sustainable, attracting an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer base. Similarly, targeting consumers as dual citizens, urban and nature lovers, appeals to emerging markets. Generation Z, the largest and most diverse in American history, is rapidly becoming known for its mixing and fusion of radically heterogeneous identities. As flexibility becomes a central aspect of individual identity, the character of the style that is committed to outdoor activities is increasingly malleable and open. Brands succeed when they demonstrate the ability to match consumer agility, expanding their own identity and design purposes.
Camp Yoshi – outdoor experience
Camp Yoshi, founded in Fall 2020, is a curated camping experience that creates outdoor spaces for black people, so they can connect with nature. Founded by Chief Cultural Officer and designer Rashad Frazier, the team offers accompanied expeditions, equipment, transportation, and meals. Through this all-inclusive model, which is complemented by partnerships with major brands such as Snow Peak and Leatherman, Camp Yoshi wants to maximize the accessibility of outdoor activities.