Dutch clothing brand Protest Sportswear are celebrating 30 years of making the world a better place for boarders. We catch up with the team there to reflect on their 30 years and talk strategy for the future.
Please give us some background on from when it all began to the present day.
Protest was founded 30 years ago by a group of Dutch snowboarders. Since day one, we’ve been doing our part to make the world a better place for boarders – both on the slopes and in the water. We do this by designing fashionable and functional sportswear at an affordable price. By reminding the world that boarding is fun. And by helping people overcome whatever stands between them and their boards. Besides a winter collection, Protest now has a street, beach, surf and outdoor collection for men, women, boys and girls. A cycling collection has also been part of the range for a few years, all based on the mission: ‘To help everyone ride more’.
Can we have some current stats on the brand in its 30th year?
Founded in the Netherlands but nowadays Protest is available in more than 25 countries through wholesale & online channels (including marketplaces). Since last year Protest is also available in Canada and North America. We are always searching for new distributors who demonstrate the same drive and ambition to introduce Protest into a new market and then push the brand to the next level. How is the anniversary being celebrated?
Protest Sportswear is celebrating this year; the brand has been around for 30 years. To mark this milestone, a grand party was organized on Wednesday 24 May in the Netherlands with 700 guests. Together with all international distributors, team riders, customers, shops, suppliers and colleagues, the 30th anniversary was celebrated with the Grandeur Dinner Show in Studio 21 in Hilversum, with the famous Dutch DJ act Kris Kross Amsterdam as the special act and closing of the evening.
Setting the tone for the night, owner Caroline Dekker took the stage to deliver a brilliant speech, resonating with deep personal connection as her father had been the visionary founder of Protest Sportswear. With a nostalgic gaze into the past and a dedicated vision for the future, she shared some anecdotes about the brand’s humble beginnings, focussing more on sustainability as a brand and its current standing. Later that evening Managing Director Wesley van Wijnbergen took the stage, who shared some of the upcoming plans, projects and introduced the Protest FUN(D), an initiative that will launch this fall. The Country of the Year award is presented annually. This year, Switzerland was the winner of this highly desired award. In honour of its 30th anniversary, a series of Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented in recognition of their tireless dedication and major contributions to the success of Protest Sportswear. Tell us about the brand anniversary collabs or special lines.
In honour of Protest Sportswear’s 30th anniversary, a new and epic brand movie has been launched. The brand video reflects the brand’s journey and celebrates the brand’s evolution, dedication to sports and passion for adventure. Through catchy action footage, funny content and the faces of Protest Sportswear, the video captures the essence of Protest Sportswear. It shows how we want to help everyone ride more.
What was the biggest single challenge the brand has overcome to get to its 30th year?
In 30 years, there have been several crises. Including economic crisis that affected not only us but everyone. But the COVID-19 pandemic hit us particularly hard, because our business is winter sports goods and it was completely locked up. Therefore, not just us, but certainly our clients were struggling as well. We worked strongly together with them. Because we are a strong and healthy family-owned company without any help from investors or banks. Fortunately, we came through this very well and since 2022 we are back in business.
Please tell us about the management team guiding the business today.
We’re a proud privately-owned company by CEO Caroline Dekker with Wesley van Wijnbergen as Managing Director. Niels Lammerts is the Creative Founder and together with Gerard van Duijn who is responsible for IT and Logistics they are the Management Team. Over the last 30 years which Protest product are you most proud of and why?
What we, Protest Sportswear, started thirty years ago has helped us “get there”. Nowadays, in addition to our winter and summer collection, we also have a full street, outdoor, and cycling collection. In the past few years, Protest has become the proud market leader when it comes to NOOS items (in both summer and winter collections) and Mix & Match bikinis.
Where do you see the most opportunities for growth for the brand over the coming years?
We never lose sight of our mission: help everyone ride more. In the coming years, Protest Sportswear will focus even more on tailoring our collections to every season and circumstance. From swimwear to technical winter gear and everything in between. Each season, we create ranges of items for all genders and ages to get there all year round.