Skatewear brand Element’s European general manager tells Marie Davies why he’s excited about ethical lifestyle range Element Emerald.
Element founder Johnny Schillereff’s ideal back in 1992 was “to be the best we could be in the most honest and ethical way possible”. Does this still resonate in 2012?
Element has always stayed true to its roots; it’s never pretended to be something it’s not. What Johnny said back in 1992 is our brand’s creed. It is what we’re built on and we’ll always relate to it. We’ll continue to reduce our impact on the environment and bring progress to urban youth culture and skateboarding.
This year is a big sporting one, in the UK especially. Is Element getting involved?
Well, since skateboarding isn’t an Olympic discipline, you won’t be seeing us there. But we’ll be active in the UK, with various events and participation in larger skate contests through our skate team. We also host a very big amateur skate contest every year called Make it Count. It takes place all around the world and it’s where we give kids a chance to compete to win a sponsorship with Element.
The men’s lifestyle range Element Emerald is launching fully for autumn 12. How does it differ from the mainline?
Johnny really says it best: “Like so many people from our culture, we’ve matured and so have our interests, taste levels and choices.” The objective of Emerald is to deliver an upscale, select offering of sustainable and organic contemporary product into the action sports market, which appeals to a more sophisticated consumer.
What challenges do you think the streetwear market is facing?
The streetwear market is experiencing big hype at the moment, especially in terms of original skate brands that have been around since the beginning. This is apparent when you can see the big sports brands, like Nike and Adidas, and how they’ve started to enter this market in a way that tries to show association with the origin of the culture. Lucky for us, we’re one of the originals, so there’s no challenge for us.
Do you have separate design teams for the US and Europe?
Yes, we have separate design teams to cater to local requirements but we work as a global unit.
What trends is Element backing for autumn 12?
We’ll continue our influences of the outdoor vintage look, mixed and matched with native Americana workwear. We’ll also further increase our Conscious by Nature items and work with as much organic and recycled fabric as possible. For our women’s collection, the trends will be bohemian ethnic styles, but feminine and comfortable with an indie hand-made feel.
Are you looking to expand into any other product categories?
We’ll continue to increase our outerwear and become more technical but with an urban street approach. We’ll also expand our successful footwear lines.
What are your plans for the UK this year?
More partnership stores and a flagship store.
- Frank Voit is the European general manager of skatewear brand Element
What was the best-selling autumn 11 style in the UK?
Our comprehensive jacket line (Wolfeboro Collection) has sold best. It’s where classic style meets functionality.
Source: NICOLAS GENIN
Do you have a sporting icon?
I respect both [tennis star Rafael] Nadal and [Spanish footballer] Raúl a lot. Both are extremely successful athletes that are focused and committed family men.
What sports are you good at?
I’m a nature guy. I like all mountain sports such as mountain biking, hiking and skiing.
What is your favourite Element piece?
Everything in our Emerald Collection.