Forward header

Forward Outdoor’s Global Brand Director Tony McWilliam Talks Management Changes & Brand Direction

Outerwear brand Forward Outdoor has recently come under new management, so SOURCE reached out to their Verbier-based Global Brand Director, Tony McWilliam to hear all about the new setup.

Can you give us a brief history of Forward Outdoor?
I started the vision for Forward Apparel in 2016 when I was running Faction Skis. I brought Lionnel Ducruet on as an external to oversee product development as he has an incredible wealth of skill and experience in technical outerwear and supply chains, and we started getting the brand ready for launch with a strong vision for what it should be.

I left Faction/Forward in 2018 just as the project was getting started for a couple of different reasons and the project was taken over by an internal team who have done an excellent job – the product is fantastic, quality is amazing, the visuals are beautiful, and they’ve been working with some incredible designers and athletes globally. Things were also going strong with a great network of core retailers.

Then, early in 2023, the parent company hit a hurdle in terms of financing, and they had to shed their other brands to keep the core Faction Skis brand alive which is unfortunate – so the factory took over the intellectual property, then called myself and Lionnel back in. It’s as simple as that. Forward Outdoor

This last 12 months have seen big changes within the company with the appointment of yourself as Global Brand Director and Lionnel Ducruet as Head of Product, please take us through the new set up ?
Although externally it probably looks like big changes, actually what we’ve done is pull everything back to the brand’s core team, the ones that started the brand. We did this with the intention of: clarifying the brand’s direction, giving it the stability and structure it’s been missing, and creating a solid footing for the future with a team that is immensely experienced and capable.

Generally I come in with concepts for products, designs and where the brand should go as a whole, and Lionnel makes them happen. He matches technology to fabrics and tailoring, then oversees the development process with the factory to pull everything together.

How is the brand now positioned going forward?
I’m now in a position to ensure that there is a consistency at Forward, both in terms of the product, the imagery, the communication and through to distribution and messaging through the retailer to the riders who love our gear.

We’re skiers and snowboarders and we believe that we’re all just here for the same thing – the rush, mountain culture and the values that we share and our brand and products reflect that. Forward Outdoor

What sets Forward apart from other apparel brands?
I’ve been part of this industry for nearly 30 years and I still am excited by what’s next and bringing unique ideas and vision to life. I really don’t think anyone combines style, sustainability and performance like we do. We’re pulling from techwear and gorpcore, inspired by modern fashion, which itself is drawing from outdoor more and more; we’re all becoming part of this whole feedback loop. It’s an exciting time to run an apparel brand as everything is getting mixed together, but at the end of the day we have the authenticity and legitimacy of having created high performance technical outerwear for literally decades.

You’ve mentioned that sustainability is intrinsic to Forward’s identity, can you explain in a bit more depth what you mean with regards to your manufacturing process?
Everyone is a long way from true sustainability and there’s a lot of misconception around the topic. There’s a lack of ability within the industry to design a successful way of ‘closing the circle’ when it comes to becoming more environmentally-friendly for a myriad of reasons. The truth is that everyone is further away than where they want to be, but we’re all on a journey to close the loop. Forward outerwear

How is your distribution organised in Europe?
We’ve quickly built a fantastic sales team in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. We work with all long-term industry veterans and who I’m stoked with and just love working with. They know what they’re doing, they have solid relationships with the best retailers around and ensuring they’re well supported to help drive sell-through is key.

What is your marketing strategy for the 24/25 season?
We’re in discussions with a handful of athletes and ambassadors who I’ve known for a long time, and who we feel share a passion for their sport, and whose values that reflect ours. Both skiers and snowboarders here in the EU and in North America. People who I feel are progressing the sport and culture, and have a vision for what the outdoors means for everyone.

View Forward’s 24/25 outerwear ranges:
Men’s outerwear
Women’s outerwear

119 Forward Outerwear


Screenshot 2024-05-17 at 14.07.10


Db Launch Luggage Line

Send this to a friend