What’s the hardest part about launching a high end technical outerwear brand in this economy? Lots of things but John Pew from Trew Gear gives us his take on all the challenges they face right now with the launch of their brand. He also gives us their take on traveling around North America in a GnaRV for the winter and getting in touch with the people. Check out what they have to say.
This fall your line will officially launch, at the same time the economy is hurting a lot of businesses. What challenges are you expecting to face and how are you going to overcome them?
When we first started working on TREW, in the early planning stages, the economy was more robust and hadn’t quite gone down the flipping shitter yet. So a lot of the initial planning did not figure in the current retail landscape, especially launching with our first full line when manufacturers and retailers are cutting back. So long story short, the biggest challenge for us is going to be actually selling product. We are only in a couple retail stores so we are going to be pushing online sales and pro-form. The goal is to be able to make enough sales to keep the TREWth rolling for another season and essentially ride out the storm. We’ve found an effective way to utilize the economic downturn to our advantage is with grassroots marketing. Other companies are cutting spending on marketing which has created an opportunity for us to get our name and gear out there.
Hailing from the Pacific North West your gear is heavily influenced by the adverse weather conditions up there. You’re producing high end technical outerwear with a flare for fashion. This ultimately puts you in a slight niche market, but who would you say you’re ideally catering too and what is the image of your brand? How hard is it catering to both skiers and snowboarders?
We all love the climate and culture of the Northwest so much and are stoked to try and incorporate that into the gear we make and the identity of our brand. For one thing, if your gear isn’t highly waterproof it isn’t going to make it up here. The Northwest actually embodies a lot of what TREW is all about in the gear we make: the climate here requires superior waterproofing and breathability, the rugged terrain calls for a thicker, bomber and more durable fabric, and the artistically progressive culture highlights the desire for style and individual expression. We are catering to the person who wants all of these things and doesn’t want to sacrifice function for style or vice versa and from a small, independent company whose values they would be proud to support. Basically, TREW denies no one and loves everybody who shares our passion for enjoying life in the mountains. We don’t care if you ski, snowboard, tele, sled, snowskate, as long as you are having fun and have a positive respect for others.
Your gear is coming with a hefty price tag. Is that a result of where it’s manufactured and material quality?
Exactly. What makes our gear so expensive is the materials and being manufactured in Canada. We could make our jackets in China or use cheaper fabric, zippers, cord locks, etc and sell them for under $400. But there is a lot of extra value to being manufactured in Canada, i.e. proximity to Hood River makes it easy to oversee quality control and deal with production issues, higher work standards ensure that our product is being made in a positive work environment, etc.
Living in an RV with a bunch of guys for that long traveling from resort to resort there has to be some great tales of the road. Spill some dirt? Pick up any sketchy hitch hikers or random run aways?Any late night run-ins with Johnny Law?
Oh boy. We had some crazy insane times on that bus that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, some memories I straight up wont remember and some that ill choose to forget. Not too many clashes with the law, Tripp got the only speeding ticket of the Tour going 36 in a 25. One time we had unknowingly parked the bus right outside the police station in Revelstoke, BC and were having a little late night partay. People were spilling in and out of the bus drinking, people were lighting fireworks in the street, people were going crazy and then knock knock from the Canadian Mounties with just two words “Parties over, eh?”. They were so nice, God bless Canada! There are going to more stories for sure, but you’ll have to check them out on our blog.
Doing the RV tour definitely brings you right to the people and makes snowboarding look more accessible by allowing people to approach the RV. Other than doing the tour and being there to meet the people what are you doing to get and keep people interested in snowboarding?
Showeth the people the TREWth and it will set them free! It was not hard to get people stoked about what we are doing, it seemed to be pretty contagious and then hopefully it leads to people getting stoked on snowboarding in general. At TREW, we try to have a positive attitude about sharing our passions with others. There is no “fuck you if you don’t snowboard”, “look at how cool I am, fuck you you aren’t as cool as me” attitudes and I think people really appreciate and get more excited about things they feel like they are a part of. So instead of trying to be all exclusive, we try and remain open to everything and include everyone.
Being “green” is a huge part of a lot of companies marketing right now. Are you taking part in any green initiatives and what is your take on everyone jumping on the green bandwagon?
Its true a lot of people jump on the green bandwagon these days cause it seems like the “in” thing to do or companies use at as part of their marketing strategy. TREW is not going green just for the sake of going green, but instead we recognize that protecting the environment is an essential part of our snow passion and an essential part of our business. We try and focus on the little things for now and realize that as our business grows so does our potential for a larger impact on the environment both positively and negatively. Positively in that we will have more capacity to support causes like 1% for the Planet (which we already joined) and Protect Our Winters.
If people get one thing out of what Trew is doing and its message what would you like that to be?
Be TREW to yourself and have fun in whatever you are doing. Oh yeah and we have the best gear out there right now, buy it at your local retailer (if they don’t have it tell them they should carry it) or at the TREW website!