A small diversion away from cycling on my travels, and a tribute to my Nan’s knitwear output.
I have written numerous times about my visits to bike shows around the world, but this week I have taken a detour to one of to one of the world’s most important sporting goods shows, ISPO Sport in Munich.
I am actually here to attend meetings and events on the side of the show that have been extremely useful for learning about trends in health and physical activity and the business climate in which the global bike industry is working.
But of course I went for a walk around the show. It was enormous, bigger than all the bike shows except maybe Eurobike. There were no specific bike exhibits but lots of familiar outdoor brands and many of the companies that make outdoor and sports gear also cross over into cycling.
But inevitably my eye is drawn to the unexpected. This is especially true of trade fairs where the major purpose of the show is to convince manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to take a particular range, not really to reach the individual consumers.
When I first went to Taipei Cycle Show I was drawn to the booths that just exhibited a single item like bells, or a huge display of carefully colour coded bolts, there so that assemblers could order just the right part to match their bicycle designs. No reason why they should not be there, but the care and attention to detail put in to displaying the humble washer just caught my imagination.
So what was it at ISPO?
Walls of bobble hats.
Fields of bobble hats.
Who knew? If you want to convince the winter sports buying community that your product is the height of technical achievement you top off your display….with a bobble hat, lovingly designed and created by people who have invested a great deal of craft in their product.
Maybe it’s because I don’t come from a winter sports country, but somehow I was highly amused by the status given to the sort of clothing that represented the height of uncool in England because it was knitted by your grandmother in strange shapes and colours. The only exception was your football supporter’s hat that you wore on a Saturday.
Good luck to them all, if colour coded bolts matter to someone then why not bobble hats? My Nan would have seen it as a challenge to turn out another batch from her extraordinary selection of leftover wool.