quality control inspection
Photography_LP Labranche
情熱から生み出されるスノーボーディング・ギア「POP HEADWEAR」。
Q. Background - how did the POPHDWR start?
バックグラウンド - ブランド設立まで
Pop Headwear started out as and still is a Montreal based community project that aims to put locally made product and talent on the map. For us owners, Pop was an initiative to keep the passion for shredding alive. “it was clear that none of us would be making a career as a professional skater of snowboarder so instead, we would become professional beanie hustlers – Dan Walfish”. Profiting from the deep connections within the shred community and the knowledge acquired from our university degrees, Pop was finally created in 2007. The core values behind Pop are family, design and quality. The family aspect predominates since everyone working on the project compliments each other. In very specific ways all members of the Pop family are a friends or well trusted hard working sons of bitches.“Everyone’s opinions are valued equally and we all have our say and a chance to bring something to the table We belive in working horizontally and not in an old fashioned vertical way” – Dan Walfish.
As the community support grew, so did the brand. Products started out selling in small independent retailers and we started creating a strong demand through scarcity. One of the biggest turning points was the integration of Pro Snowboarder Marius Otterstad as an owner. Marius’s legendary reputation as a ruthless snowboarder and daredevil party animal gave credibility to the brand in Europe. His tight connections enabled Pop to penetrate the European market and find some reps abroad. This was the first appearance of Pop Headwear products out of North America. Marius was also able to clinch very important Private Label contract, which would further promote Pop Headwear on a more corporate perspetive. The second turning point came with the addition of a Japanese Distribution called Native Products. With the help of good homies Yoshi Toomuch and Toshi Fukuyama, Pop Headwear would explode in Japan. Yoshi and Toshi took the brand under their own responsibility and started implementing the same homegrown vibe in Japan that we had in Canada. This would implicate sponsoring local talent, participating in grass-roots marketing techniques and major tradeshows such as Interstyle. We quickly learned that Japanese people have a fetish for quality products especially Canadian made ones. This would later set the stage for what was to come, a global takeover.
As Pop Headwear sales and hype increased, a new business unit was naturally added to the portfolio. We decided to launch a sub-branch called Pop Customs. The incorporation of a Private Label division consisted of using the same production and design resources as Pop to supply other organizations with custom products. The Private Label business started out with Universities and independent boardshops. This enabled us to gain experience and benchmark our prices and production times for small runs. Soon enough, major clients came to see us such as X-Games, Rockstar, Burn and Redbull as well as many other heavy hitters like the Norwegian Snowboard Association. We quickly found out very quickly that having a superior product combined with outstanding customer services gives us a competitive advantage that we instantly exploited. We also discovered that there is a high demand for Canadian made product on a world-wide basis, especially in our niche market of action
「ボクらは皆、スケーターまたはスノーボーダーとしてプロフェッショナルな経歴がないのは明らか。だからその代わりにプロのビーニークリエイターになる -“ダン・ウォルフィッシュ”」
「チームみんなの意見は平等に評価され、発言権があり、昔ながらの縦社会は存在せず、信じ合い、何か提案があればフラットに持ち込める -“ダン・ウォルフィッシュ”」
トレーベルの契約を獲得し、POPHDWRを大きく躍進させた。次の大きな転機は日本の代理店ネイティブプロダクツとの繋がりだった。彼らはボクたちのブランドイメージを崩さず、100%同じカタチで日本へ伝えることに責任を持ち実行した。地元のライダーを巻き込み、草の根活動やINTERSTYLEなどの展示会を通じ、すぐにカナダ産の高品質なものに魅力を感じてくれる人が多いことを知り、発信した。本国と日本とのすばらしい国際継承の前進を感じた。POPHDWRは成長し、新規ビジネスユニットが次々と書類に追加されていった。次にボクたちは“プライベートレーベル”を作った。これは通常POPHDWRで生産している製品と同じものを使用し、他のブランドにオリジナル商品として提供するプロジェクト。大学や地元にあるローカルショップでスタートさせ、素晴らしい経験を積むことができ、そこから品質と価格の安定も表現できた。その後、X-Games, Rockstar, Burn, Redbull、ノルウェースノーボード協会など大手企業と契約。高品質で、迅速に優れた顧客サービスが可能なことで、ボクらは優位性を見せることができた。同時にこのスノーボード業界の中で、カナダ製への強い需要が存在することを発見できた。
Q. Branding - please explain about POPHDWR.
ブランディング - POPHDWR
Pop Headwear does not sell a product; it sells an experience portrayed through the branding/design it used. All of the logos represent what Pop stands for and where we come from to the fullest extent. The main logo (the fleur de Lys) is the emblem of Quebec, the province in which Pop was born. It is important to us for consumers to recognize that we support the local community and are proud of our roots. Montreal is a city with a unique character and we try to embed it into our branding. The perfect example of this would be the font we use in one of our logos called the Montreal font. Finally, the 100% homegrown logo really captures the essence of what Pop Headwear really is. We make all the necessary efforts to manufacture our products in house and all the branding/labeling/ printing/embroidering in Montreal as well. Our beanies are carefully knitted by experienced staff lodged in our c located 15 minutes from our HQ in downtown Montreal. Moreover, our very talented media team that represents an integral part of the company take responsibility for all of the photography and cinematography aspect of Pop. We try to outsource as little as possible. Our branding hosts a vital importance since it is primarily what people look at first when purchasing a Pop product. The goal is to transmit a feeling of belonging and for consumers to relate to the Pop Headwear sub-culture. Careful attention to details is imperative for this to work and carry out the desired effect. Our branding is also a very powerful marketing tool that will be used in ads and social media outlets. With Private Label contracts, we often use Pop Headwear’s branding style and products to subliminally promote Pop Headwear.
POPHDWRは単に製品を販売するというブランドではない。ブランディング、デザインを通じ、経験を描きそれを販売している。全てのロゴはPOPが何の略なのか、どこからきたものかを最大限に分かりやすく表現している。代表ロゴ(the fleur de Lys = ユリの花のロゴ)は、地元ケベック州のシンボルで、POPがどこで誕生したのかを明確に表している。地元コミュニティーを大切にサポートし、ルーツに誇りを持っていることを認識してもらうために。モントリオールは独特の雰囲気がある町で、ブランディングの1つの方法としてそれらを埋め込んでいる。また、ボクらは“Montreal font”という字体を採用している。“100% HOME GROWN” と記したロゴは、POPHDWRがどのような存在なのかというエッセンスをぎっしり詰め込んだもの。そしてボクらは生産に必要なもの全てに力を注ぎ、ブランディング、ラベル貼り、印刷、刺繍作業までをも一貫してモントリオールで行う。POPHDWRビーニーは、ダウンタウンにある事務所から約15分のところにある約15万平方フィートの自社工場で経験豊富なチームで作業を行なっている。さらに、有能なメディアチームにより、写真や動画に関しては彼らに全てを託している。外注は雇わず、チームで事業を行いたいと考えている。ユーザ―がPOPHDWRを手にする際、誰が携わっているのかとうことは、ブランディングに極めて重要であると思うから。目標は、ボクらがユーザ―とサブカルチャーの中での関係性を持続し、「これからもPOPHDWRを手にしたい」と思ってもらえること。広告媒体やソーシャルメディアを通じてブランドを発信することは強力なツールとなる。そしてプライベートレーベルの契約は、ブランド推進の役割を果たしている。
Q. Style - Do you have some particular about your brand’s appearance with passion?
スタイル – ブランドの方向性と特徴
Pop Headwear’s style is greatly influenced by the skateboard, snowboard and hip-hop cultures. We all come from backgrounds that were subject to these culture’s social environments. Skateboarding and snowboarding provided us with a heaven and a way of life that enabled us to be creative in our own ways. We reflect this in our design to illustrate the passion we have for these sports and also how they define our very way of living. Pop Headwear is much more than a brand or a job over the past 2-3 years. It is now a way of life that we can all relate to and has embedded its self within. Our life revolves around growing the only thing that has true value and that is the key to our self-achievement. The passion we have for the brand can be seen in our everyday life. Work doesn’t stop when we leave the office. No matter what we are doing or where we are, Pop occupies a constant thought in our minds. This is only reinforced
by the fact that us owners are also good homies that see each other everyday. Hence, our personal lives and the business have become one. Personal problems have blended with the business and vice versa. Some might say that this can create delicate situations, I say it creates brotherhood.
Q. Developed Independently - What is the good features of Canada quality, confidence and trust your brand?
独自開発 – オリジナリティ、カナダ品質
Pop Headwear was created under the sworn oath of keeping the headwear production local for many reasons. One in particular is that quality is one of the core values of the company. It is portrayed not only in the physical product, but also in the way we operate as a hole. When working on a specific project, we always make sure we give it our 110% no matter what the scale or importance of the project/client is. We make sure the people we work with are Jg Gagné throwing a massive fs Feeble Photographey_LP Labranche on top of their game and represent the brand to the fullest extent. The result of all this is optimal efficiency and effectiveness. It was also important for us to show that we are 100% home grown and make it a point to stimulate the local economy. All of our garments suppliers are located in Montreal such that biggest asset we have is the relationships with its stakeholders. Of course, we could save costs by outsourcing overseas and therefore increase our margins significantly. However, we would rather invest in local suppliers and benefit from the added value they bring to our company.
Quality and design aspects are what sets Pop above its competitors. With our 150,000 square foot local facility, we are able to insure that our products are 99.9% consistent and built with the best Canadian made high-quality acrylic. As a result our beanies are supremely comfortable and more durable than an overseas made ones. Most importantly, we reduce our carbon footprint by having our office/ showroom 15 minutes away from the factory. This also eliminates shipping delays. Our production manager can literally stand beside the machines while our product is getting knit up in the morning, and back in the office in time for lunch break. An other advantage we have of producing locally is seen in our sampling. With our increased flexibility, we are able to come out with prototype even before we sample in no time. Finally, we can invest a considerable amount of energy in research and development without it being a headache.
On a private label front, producing locally set us at a prime position. Clients usually need their products sooner than later. Fortunately, our lead times enable us to exceed all expectations. For this reason, providing quick lead times makes it easy to satisfy a client’s impatient quenching thirst for his customized product. Furthermore, we are able to customize client’s products based on Pop Headwear ones. They use our Pop products as a benchmark to create their own, something that is very hard to do overseas. For our clients in North-America, manufacturing in the same time zone is something that we value greatly to our advantage. Communication is always key and needs to be taken seriously. The culmination of all previsouly described factors concocts trust between our clients and us. This this reason we have many clients coming back to us for more orders every year. Over all, superior quality and next level design make us a leader in our category, but iour impeccable customer service that sets us on the throne.
POPHDWRは、地元を意識したヘッドウエア製品としてたくさんの“リーズン=理由”を持ち続けていくという誓いを込めて設立した。ボクらは品質において特別な価値観を持っている。物質的な生産ということに留まらず、ボクらは全てを表現している。プライベートレーベルに関しても、規模や重要性の大小に関わらず110%の情熱を与えることを確約する。彼らの求めるゲーム上の“駒”として動き、最大限にそのブランドとしての表現を拡張できるように努める。それが結果的に効率的で最適な方法だと考えているから。ボクらの“100% HOME GROWN”を伝えることも大切であり、地域経済成長の刺激になればいいなと思っている。
Q. An alternating current - How’s grow with both of you and your crew, with riders communication, is it good vibes and reputation feedbacks for the brand?
交流 - ブランドの発信に携わるメンバー
Pop Headwear operates like a family. We did not decide one day that we should build an experience out of our brand in such a way that it represents what we stand for and who we are. This was done organically by working with our homies towards a common goal. Mixing business and friendship is considered a sin by most, but we at Pop find that there is no other way of operating than to do it with
the people you know and trust.
Our media crew is one of the biggest assets we have. Working with photographers Lp Labranche and Renaud Robert (Ren Rob) under the direction of Brian Finn (Art Director) is probably one of the most natural and amazing things to see. They compliment themselves in such a way that when working on a project, they know exactly what they are doing even before the project is launched. With everyone flowing in the same direction, the brand is able to grow and keep itself on track.
Pop took a huge leap forward this year with the addition of an international rep fleat. We now have 6 reps in 6 different countries dedicating themselves to growing the brand over seas. They too are now part of the Pop family. When working with them, I find it very easy to communicate even though some times language barriers and time differences make it hard. Our reps are motivated to get products on the floor and spread the Pop love.
Our athlete team is outstanding. We have a great variety of riders that cover all disciplines of snowboarding from street jibbers to pow shredder to park rats. Our team members are considered family and have been with us since the beginning, which creates a high level of synergy and respect between us and them. By keeping in constant contact and keeping them updated on product development and new upcoming projects, we make them feel like a big part of the organization. Pushing our involvement even further, we take care of most of our riders branding and social media such that they gather the most exposure possible. This also helps them gain more sponsors. Riders also benefit from all the social activities such as explosive parties like the one we through at Shakedown every year!
一方、国際チームにより大きな前進ができた。現在は6カ国に“POP FAMILY”がいる。言葉や時間の壁はときどき進行を妨げるだろうと思ったが、彼らと仕事を進める中で、全く問題ないと感じた。POPHDWRを彼らに届け、並べ、愛と情熱を広げてくれることが分かったから。
そして、アスリートチームも優れている。ストリートジバーからパウダーシュレッダーまで、多種多様なライダー陣。彼らも家族のような存在で、設立当初からお互いを尊敬し、ブランドへの相乗効果も高い。よく連絡を取り合い、常に新しい計画と製品開発を共に生み出す。今後は、彼らがPOPHDWRの重大なポジションにいるということを伝えたい。そして彼らをできる限り露出できるようにしてあげたい。それにより、彼らがより多くのスポンサーを獲得できることに役立つと思っている。カナダで毎年開催される“SHAKE DOWN”など、ビッグイベントを通じ爆発的なパーティーなども経験することで、すべての社会活動の恩恵を受けることもできている。
Q. Vision - Do you have any aiming projects in future?
ビジョン – 今後の活動予定
For Pop Headwear, the ultimate goal is to get a flagship store. We would build it in an area where it doesn’t conflict with existing retailers. Contrary to standard flagship outlets, ours will be multi functional. It will be the epicenter of the Skate, Snow and Entertainment concepts and lifestyles. We will not only be working from the offices located within the store, but also throwing parties, hosting art shows and other cultural events which will pertain to the Pop vibe. Above all, we want the Pop flagship store to be a safe heaven for the entire shred community. Controlling what we can sell directly to end users will mediate the problem of not always being able to sell the in-stock or models that end users want, but that retailers don’t order. Finally having a point of sale system will help us gain vital information and will help us get to know our customers better. The Pop shop will be an experience for any visitor and will appeal to people of all ages.
Also in the works is an epic road trip to Japan. The sole purpose of the trip will be to promote the brand and take it to the next level in the Asian markets.
Q. What is the concept behind the ‘Core Takeover’
コンセプトの背景 – “コアであり続けること”
The concept was initially born last year when we were faced with probably the most important decisions in the history of Pop. As a small company forced to finance its own explosive growth, the mainstream path of business became more and more attractive. Big mall retail outlets were increasingly interested in carrying Pop Headwear products in North America, Norway and Japan. As a result, we had to decide if we were ready to sacrifice brand integrity for massive amounts of money. However, for us the choice was very clear, keep it core. All of our values and business ethics revolve around the concept of keeping it true to your roots. In the past 10 years or so, the industry has taken a dramatic turn and brands are targeting mainstream retailers. Non-endemic brands such as energy drinks have also injected a massive amount inflfluence in the industry and endemic brands are forced to compete when it comes to rider sponsorships an marketing. The independent core retail market is of a dying bread in the face of shareholder driven giants.
Being a “sell-out brand” was never and will never be something Pop wants to be. We strongly believe in working closer with independent shops to increase sell through rates and more importantly, our street cred. The rational behind this reflflect our strategy in keeping it core on the Pop Headwear front, and corporate on the Private Label one. This way, the integrity of the Pop image is kept safe from the burning fifire of “un-corness”. It is for this reason, we came out with the Coreporate Takeover concept. Its purpose is to encourage the kids and educate the masses on what the true meaning of the sport means and how core retailers are at the very foundation of it!
Q. What was your greatest experience
経験 – 大きな出来事
Our cross continental road trip last summer was the craziest experience. We took our 25-foot trailer across the North-American continent with the sole purpose of promoting the brand and opening up potential accounts in the US and Canada. We stopped at select boardshops in major cities from coast to coast and set up our trailer/showroom directly in front. We then proceeded to pitch our summer collection. Sharing our experiences with shop owners and buyers was our way of showing people how dedicated we are to our growing business. Even though we knew we would come back broke and would later on discover that the office would become our home for the year after that, we still hustled our products and would not accept “no” for an answer. The trip also enabled us to study the different micro markets within the US and taught us about the different perspectives shop staff had on brining in new brands. This extensive market research would later set the stage for the SIA tradeshow in Denver in the following month of January.
The experience was epic. We had planned it for over 4 weeks and build the trailer in 3. We brought along our media team such that they too can experience the Pop Moment of Truth to the fullest. Operating the business like a family builds trust between us and in consequence, makes our bond rock solid. Therefore, no matter what happens from now on we know that the last thing we can resort to is our compliance with each other. Our passion for snowboarding and skateboarding has brought us closer and closer to our goal, which is to become a leading headwear and accessory supplier in Canada.