A famous German snowsports brand from the 80s and 90s is coming back with a relaunch. Elho have improved their colourful, cosy, heritage collection from 1989 and is now set up for the 2020 winter season. Elho is aiming to remind older riders of the good ol’ crazy days on the slopes and also respond to the new generation trend for bright and stylish outerwear.
Please tell us about the brand’s heritage. How and why did the brand begin? The brand was founded in 1948 and was twice the official sponsor of the Olympic Winter Games and was responsible for the 80s and 90s freestyle hype on the slopes. Elho first patented the Jet Pant in 1958 and brought the first down collection to the market in 1983. Elho is not a retro label, it’s a heritage brand.
What is the thinking behind the brand relaunch?
We’re aware of the opportunity that was paved by retro-brands like Ellesse, Fila, Champion and many others, whose aims was simply to return the brand to the market and be successful (again). But for our inspiration, we looked more at brands like Vans, because they have a phenomenal history and they just continue to do their own thing – delivering a great product with a great image. For sure, this is a pretty challenging goal for us at this stage, but it’s our mindset.
Who are the people behind the relaunch of Elho and what is their experience within the industry?
Firstly, there is Otto, the longterm owner of the trademark. With him, the recently founded Elho AG agreed to an exclusive and long term license agreement. Then there is Simone, who is the head of the AG together with Ulrich and her young, highly motivated team. Simone owned a surf and snowboard shop in Aachen and later worked for 5 years as sales manager for Ellesse in Germany and Austria. Ulrich brought Billabong to Germany in 1992 and has been in the industry ever since. Torsten from Orendt Studios and Christoph from Falkenstein Nebenwerte AG are the other members of the board for the company.
Tell us about the new line.
What you get for Winter 2020 is a homage to the wild times of 1989, but including the functional details that you want today; like a 20,000mm water column and nice details like fully taped seams and lightweight, 100% recycled padding. It’s important that we look at these exclusive and limited styles from the past in two ways. First, for most people beyond the age of 40 it’s a journey back in time, back to when Elho revolutionised the look of the slopes and streets with bright colours. It’s unbelievable how many people just start telling us stories, when they went riding, how they would come down the hill on a snowboard or how they partied until dawn. Secondly, the new generation looks at our style and are super surprised that it doesn’t originally come from New York or Tokyo, but from “boring” Germany. As they love bright colours and the oversized look, they are pretty mind-blown by what they see.
How important is sustainability to the brand?
For the Winter 2020 collection, we use 100% recycled padding in all outerwear. We also started our “Think Twice” campaign on our website to encourage our customers to actively ask themselves, if they really-really want the style. This may lead to less turnover at the checkout on our side, which you’d think we wouldn’t enjoy that much, but it may also lead to fewer returns, which is good for Mother Earth. The most important improvement we can make is to switch our order process from “Push” to “Pull”. Now, with our social media network in place we are able to listen to customers and combine the results with AI-driven data to produce exactly what is wanted.
How are you marketing the brand?
It’s going to be a totally different ballgame in comparison to the nineties. We are already starting to communicate through our social media channels and it’s amazing how much interaction we get. But, life is real, so there will be a few small surprises offline, which we can’t reveal today.
What opportunities do you see in the outerwear market?
We spotted two new trends. Firstly, over the last 10 years we have seen outstanding functionality in outerwear from the leading brands. It was almost too difficult to guess what could be improved for the next season. But now the consumer wants to see a bit more colour and fashion incorporated into winter gear, people are looking for a different touch and feel. That’s why, for example, for our outerwear we use the soft haptic of the past and the Elho logo is aflock. From a functional riding aspect it’s quite useless, but it’s super cosy, especially when out in the cold. Secondly, we have recently realised that kids in German, Austrian and Swiss cities have started to wear outerwear jackets to school again. If this becomes a more fashionable trend and they can show their style via the jackets they wear, then they can show that they are into freeskiing or snowboarding… this could be a game-changer!