Holden Outerwear: Building a Crossover Between Urban Aesthetic and Sustainability

Holden Outerwear

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Mikey LeBlanc and Scott Zergebel are the founders of Holden Outerwear and their passion for the outdoors and preservation of the community fueled the inception of infusing sustainable production methods with sourcing eco-friendly materials. Holden Outerwear is driven by the vision of producing clean products with the least amount of impact on the environment. To do so, Holden Outerwear adopts unconventional production methods in comparison to the default practices implemented by other companies in the same industry of their product offerings.

Author

Devansh Nahata

Devansh Nahata

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Trevor Zink

Trevor Zink

Innovation

Holden Outerwear partnered with Schoeller Textiles AG, a Switzerland-based company focusing on the sustainable development and production of innovative textiles and textile technologies. Holden Outerwear used their Corkshell(TM) which combines the natural features of cork with those of high-performance fabrics in their premium fabric shell jacket and pants. Since 2010, the company has also partnered with SCafe® whose yarns are combined with coffee grounds which changes the characteristics of the yarn filament and offers up to 200% faster drying time compared to cotton. The company selected to use all SCafe’s ® fabrics for their jacket linings.

Additionally, Holden Outerwear used Toray Dermizax– a laminate material with a very high-performance membrane that boasts excellent moisture permeability, waterproofing, and reduced condensation. Holden Outerwear used the Chambray Toray Dermizax shell fabric for a few of their women’s styles. Primaloft, another partner of Holden Outerwear, revolutionized insulation in the outdoor clothing industry; their insulation offers real down insulation, water resistance, exceptional breathability, and lightness. Holden Outerwear selected to use the Primaloft Eco Silver insulation for the lightweight and midweight insulated styles. The insulation is made from 70% post customer recycled content.

Holden Outerwear has also partnered with Allied Feather and Down to supply the responsible down used in their warmest insulated styles. Allied Feather and Down’s sourcing and proprietary cleaning technologies allow them to offer premium warmth and durability in a sustainable process. To optimize distribution, Holden Outerwear utilizes TRACKMYDOWN– a new technology allowing you to scan your new garment to find out exactly where your down came from and what its contents and ratings are.

In addition to these innovations, Holden Outerwear strives to meet the Blue Sign Certification standards by implementing approved methods of chemical management and clean processing. Thus, by following the stipulations of BlueSign® Holden Outerwear is able to produce cleaner products during the entire fabrication process, from factory to finished goods. Additionally, Mike Gomez mentioned that “there are instances when these standards are not met, which are dealt with individually and [we] proceed with the best alternative available that has the least amount of impact on the environment.”

The company has implemented certain in-house environmentally friendly practices in alignment with the eco-friendly ethos. For example, Holden Outerwear's headquarters is solar-powered and the company uses bio-degradable packing and also encourages their executives to venture outdoors and nurture their appreciation for the outdoors. Therefore, Holden Outerwear demonstrates a holistic effort to integrate sustainable practices with manufacturing product offerings.

Holden Outerwear: Building a Crossover Between Urban Aesthetic and Sustainability

Inspiration

Mikey LeBlanc, a professional snowboarder, and Scott Zergebel, a designer, founded Holden Outerwear in 2002. At the time, they recognized a gap in the industry - the absence of a combination of urban aesthetic and sustainable production practices. The inception of their business venture was driven by the founders' personal background and passion which is evident in the company's product offerings, material sourcing, and manufacturing processes.

The brand Holden Outerwear was founded out of a desire to bring street fashion to the mountains while filling a market void with progressive aesthetics as a company with a conscience. Driven by their own personal background and preferences led the founders to recognize an open space in the industry, which they attempted to bridge. To do so, the founders aimed to foster an eco-friendly ethos rather than a monetary objective for their company while working towards the greater good for our common home. Therefore, the conception of the company was driven by the personal motivation of the founders to create products via environmentally responsible production and sourcing to sustainably produce consumer-friendly outdoor clothing.

Overall impact

Holden Outerwear's introduction of eco-friendly innovations incites their competition to change their current innovations and be a part of the wave of change. This change is similar to the domino effect due to changing customer preferences and awareness thus creating an industry-wide impact to change practices in response to changing demand.

The modern mentality of sustainability and the greater good is spreading across the industry, but certain companies operate by claiming exclusivity over materials and production practices. Instead, Holden Outerwear makes their production process accessible to their competitors which ables them to also implement eco-friendly practices and create a positive impact on society rather than using their innovation for individual profits.

The brand differentiates itself based on product aesthetics and customer value, rather than production methods and using the practices as a marketing tool. Mike Gomez demonstrates this idea when he states “the business is driven by this differentiation that is evident through its eco-friendly ethos.”

Business benefit

Holden Outerwear has strived to create a brand name and reputation that has “enabled them to partner with material and fabric suppliers [who] offer them a priority on innovation and exclusivity on innovation that is based on goodwill and credentials" according to Mike Gomez.

The employees of Holden Outerwear have reacted positively towards the practices since it has led to employee pride, morale boosts and an overall purpose attached to the job/tasks. Also, the practices have led to overall long-term employee retention and satisfaction. Mike Gomez further added that “nobody wants to leave their values at home and the possibility of infusing personal values at the workplace increases motivation to put in the time and effort to accomplish tasks, which is the right thing to do.”

While there has been positive customer reaction towards their product offerings, Mike Gomez highlighted that their products are not for everyone since certain customers might not want to pay the extra price for the company’s products. While the average customer is motivated to pay less for a cheaper and less environmentally conscientious product, Holden Outerwear staying true to their values would help create brand loyalty with their customers and provide leverage for the company to stand apart from its competition.

Essentially, “every business operates to create a profit, which leads to the rationale behind marking up the products to generate a profitable income over the cost allocated to the goods sold.” Therefore, the business is striving to earn high top-line margins. However, according to Gomez, the prices set by Holden Outerwear exclude certain customers since "the production process raises the costs by 20% in comparison with the default production practices.” Additionally, Gomez mentioned that there are certain costs, including time and energy spent in finding sources of materials that are not accounted for. This makes the cost of producing and selling their products more expensive than conventional products.

Currently, the company is relaunching and recreating itself after their start-up phase and their retained earnings are being reinvested into the company. Mike Gomez mentioned that “The business is investing more than the revenue generated.” As a result, the business model is scalable due to the revenues earned by the high-margins and investments earned for the relaunch of the brand.

Holden Outerwear demonstrates that there is a parallel increase in cost with the addition of purpose to an organization which raises the price points of product offerings. While the mark-up pricing reduces the customer base to a certain extent, the high-margins earned through sales compensates for the excluded customers, aiding to the profitability of the business.

Social and environmental benefit

Holden Outerwear as a business relies on selective materials that pave the way for an alternative method of production aimed at inspiring other companies in the industry to operate and source their materials from eco-friendly sources. Mike Gomez stated, “due to the lack of manpower, Holden Outerwear does not keep track of the positive environmental and societal impacts of their practices.” The vision of the company has enabled it to create a customer base of individuals that are environmentally aware and the offerings have created an awareness among potential customers, ultimately promoting the idea of “greater good” for the society and the environment.

The partner brands of Holden Outerwear are producing materials and fabrics by considering their ecological compatibility and implementing sustainable production practices. Schoeller Textile AG produces materials in accordance with the stipulations of BlueSign® system that consequently enables Holden Outerwear to produce garments that are BlueSign® certified and environmentally sound.

The prescribed production methods eliminate the use of environmentally harmful substances from the manufacturing process and allow for environmentally friendly and dependable production based on the established guidelines. Ultimately the results are two-fold– the final textile meets the customer standards and creates a sense of satisfaction since they are buying a sustainably–manufactured product.

Additionally, the technology used by S.Cafe® has multiple renewability potential as it recycles coffee grounds for the fabric yarn and also extracts high concentration essential coffee oil through their patented manufacturing process. The oil extracted has the potential to be reused in cosmetics, thus fostering the ideology of “recyclable, renewable carbon reduction.” Therefore, the companies ability to utilize 100% of their resources and avoid waste is a step in the right direction for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for all.

Polartec continues producing fabrics from upcycled plastic bottles from recyclable components. In 2010, Polartec with Repreve created 100% upcycled polyester fabrics and transformed 1.3+ billion bottles to the next generation of performance fabrics. This Eco-Engineering initiative aims to establish a new standard for the production of sustainable textiles by further fostering the creation of the world's first entirely recycled and biodegradable fleece, knits, insulation fills and breathable waterproof fabrics.

The use of eco-friendly raw materials, abiding by the BlueSign® certification standards and the in-house practices are in alignment with the organizations' eco-friendly ethos thus creating a positive impact on the society and environment. In summary, Holden Outerwear's synergy between an eco-friendly material and fabric supplier promotes the implementation of sustainable processes throughout the supply chain. Additionally, using eco-friendly raw materials results in the production of green-products that are good for society and the environment because of the reduced impact from manufacturing and material sourcing.

Interview

Mike Gomez, Product Development and Design

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Holden Outerwear

Holden Outerwear

Los Angeles, California, US

Business Website: https://holdenouterwear.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoOC2vuKQ5gIVg8DACh0pjwZYEAAYASAAEgLpx_D_BwE

Year Founded: 2002

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Holden Outerwear makes stylish performance outerwear for unconventional adventure designed with an elevated, urban aesthetic focusing on redefining the natural order of outerwear. They are creating iconic and versatile pieces of unrivaled quality for life on and beyond the mountains. The company is driven by a singular goal: “to make the most functional and fashionable apparel possible, allowing consumers to be healthy and happy in their pursuit of a life well-led.” Therefore, the company overarchingly meets the goal of Responsible Consumption and Production, through its production process and product offerings.