Picture Organic Clothing has been one of the big success stories in the boardsports business over the last decade and half. They have rapidly expanded their number of product categories and next up is a further expansion into the Hiking market. CEO Julien Durant sat down with SOURCE to give us the thinking behind this move and to bring us up to date on the brands activities.
Please give us a brief history of the brand since its inception.
We were born in 2008 at 384ppm and since then, our mission has been to change the rules of the outdoor game. All companies are in this situation: they all have an impact on the planet. They pollute, and so do we. But this isn’t the end of the story. In fact, this is the starting point of our sustainability roadmap.
What is currently your best-selling product line, and have you noticed any trends over the last couple of seasons?
Skiing and snowboarding outerwear is still our best-selling line. For surfing, such as wetsuits, and hiking we’ve offered products for many seasons, and now they represent 25% of our total turnover. We are pushing hard to rebalance the brand as an all-year-round business covering the great outdoors.
You’re renaming your Activewear range to Hiking, with a focus on ‘Back to function first’, can you explain a bit more about the reasons behind the change?
The insight comes from our community and athletes. For all of them, the usage of our old active line was for hiking 90% of the time. Whilst some products were versatile, they didn’t always respond to every need while hiking or trekking. This re-naming also helps our design team to focus better on the functions appropriate for hiking. Creating products that are packable, light, with wind and water protection, as well as rock abrasions’ prevention, etc.
SS24 will see you guys launch a new campaign – The Hike, what can we expect from this?
Our consumer is looking for a different approach to hiking, compared to a traditional brand. Style and function can’t be disconnected for the 20-to-30 years old consumer. They want to look good first, in addition to being very comfortable. All their adventures need to be shared on Instagram or Tik Tok. They are gear-geeks and are looking for all the newest products so they can be different. Finally, the most important thing is that they are hiking with their friends and community, and they are sharing moments: this is more important to them than their actual performance.
Can you explain in more detail your Ride, Protect and Share company ethos?
Ride: It refers to boardsports; where the three co-founders from started off. We discovered the great outdoors through our boardsport’s culture and have reimagined how we wanted to play in these new activities.
Protect: It connects to our DNA, being fully committed into sustainability, and trying to lead positive actions for the environment, all the while following our mission. We are changing the rules of the outdoors. It goes through different levels: to producing products differently, to bringing innovation into sustainability, to leading social actions, to increasing the durability of products, to thinking about new way of consumption like rental for example, etc. We must think outside the box.
Share: It refers to our community. We think that the community is more important than individual performance, and that inclusivity is key.
The protect part of that ethos seems like a really important area for you guys with the company involved in many climate-change and sustainability programs, and 2023 seeing the launch of Circular, a program for recycling clothes. How has that been going from a business point of view?
2023 has been a challenging year, with the Ukraine war. Currency fluctuation has been another problem, in addition to global inflation. This has affected our profitability with the loss of 4 margin points and a decrease in sales volume. Even if we have maintained our business in value, the market signals are currently not very positive.
Meanwhile, we have grown in new sales territories, like North America which increased by 40% and where we were named as the fastest growing brand in North America by the NPD Group. Europe has remained quite stable in value. We have had to change some sourcing because of the Ukrainian conflict, this will be in place by the 3rd quarter of 2023. This move has created some delay in deliveries. Anyway, we have been very flexible and are leading in the introducing the right changes and we are very confident for 2024.
In 2021 you also launched a Rental scheme, where customers can rent, not buy, your products, how popular has that been?
Rental is challenging, it is not very popular, but consumers need to be informed on all the different ways of consuming. Buying a use instead of a product is the way we want to push for the future consumption of outdoor products. The trend is good with +100% new customers this year. However, the season 2022-23 only saw 1,000 rents, and our break-even is 1,600 rents. We are investing because we trust the program and we think that consumers should have as much knowledge as possible before they act. That’s why we will invest more in the awareness part of this program, this is key to its future.
What else do you think the industry can do in terms of environmental and sustainability issues?
Work better together. EOG is leading a group looking at how to sustainably power common facilities. We are all dealing with the move away from fossil fuel energy and the move into sustainable energy. That global energy transition is key to fight climate change and together we could move the lines when alone we cannot achieve anything. We have some challenges with the end of life of products and recyclability. The world is facing issues with waste that we all indirectly create: we must find a common strategy to close the loop of circularity.
You guys have a strong online presence and make a lot of high-quality movies, how has that helped the business? Any plans to drop a new edit?
What has always excited us the most is living adventures. As an adventure brand we need to promote great stories and adventures towards our consumer. We invest into these movies as much for Picture as a brand, as we do for the whole industry. Two new movies will see the light of day before October. Both are great human adventures, in the line of ZABARDAST which was our best movie ever. I think we are close to it… To be confirmed by our community.