Since 2009 Picture Organic Clothing has been on a mission to make technical mountainwear that is mindful of the planet on which we play on, while still keeping their pricing in check for the average punter. We sat down with co-owner Julien Durant to find out more...
How did the idea for starting Picture come about? Who was involved?
Ride, Protect & Share. These three words capture the essence of Picture Organic Clothing. But there is also another story behind the brand: a meeting between three “pals", Julien, Jérémy and Vincent. We all come from different backgrounds, but chasing a childhood dream and united by that shared passion for boardsports and the desire to create something that reflected our identity, we founded Picture Organic Clothing in 2008. Of course a lot of people who believed in our project helped us, like Vincent’s dad and his partner who really helped us in 2009 during a critical moment concerning the first brand cash flow.
Have you always made outerwear, and if not was it always your intention to move into outerwear?
To exist in the snowboard and mountain industry is to developed technical products. We are passionate about snowboarding and after years, we didn’t find outerwear respecting for real our favorite playground. Our first range was a street line which had directly been associated with our first outerwear range.
Picture have ‘Organic Clothing’ front and centre. Was that the goal from day one – to produce clothing and outerwear that tries to limit its impact on the environment? Why was this important to you guys from the get go?
Yes, the goal from day 1 was to produce organic and recycled outerwear. Jeremy has leaded that vision, as an architect. His own company was specialised in designing eco-friendly and sustainable houses. He was convinced from many years that the future can’t exist without commitment and he pushed us to being fully involved in a sustainable direction. That was our vocation since the beginning.
Practically, both from a design, logistical and financial perspectives, how much harder is it to make outerwear that’s less damaging to the planet?
Developing an outerwear jacket means finding 25 suppliers to supply all the raw material. In addition to that you must develop your own pattern with a pattern maker. Finally you are supposed to finance all the production program six months before the delivery. To manage and fix those issues we have been helped by Jonathan & Fletcher and its founder, Georges Pessey. Jonathan & Fletcher is a company dedicated to outerwear development. They had worked for many brands in the past like Salomon, Rossignol, Spider, Burton and more others. They had won many Ispo Awards for outerwear innovations.
"Producing eco-friendly products increase our price by 25% and we decided to absorbed that cost from our margin to keep a very kind retail price to bring sustainable products available to everybody in the market."
At the beginning and with the help of Georges, we had the skills and knowledge to developed an outerwear program but not an eco-friendly one. That’s why we traveled to Taiwan to meet the biggest recycler worldwide to find opportunities to use recycling materials into our outerwear program. We also had signed a strong partnership with Flyingtext and HWA Fune and developed specific fabrics using a minimum of 50% recycling material for all our outerwear program. Those partnerships, which started in 2009, are still running.
In terms of design Jeremy, who was an architect, had (and still has) the creative skills which was not an issue when we started. Cost-wise producing eco-friendly products increase our price by 25% and we decided to absorbed that cost from our margin to keep a very kind retail price to bring sustainable products available to everybody in the market.
In 2008 token jackets ‘made from recycled plastic bottles’ popped up from several brands. In your opinion has the industry as a whole moved forward since then? Or does it still have a way to go?
Nowadays there is a big trend around the development of eco-friendly products and today many brands have at least one of them in their range. Financially speaking it is a not a very profitable move, which also explains why it is not moving so fast. For example, Picture Organic Clothing ensure a minimum of 50% recycled polyester in its products and we also laminated a recyclable membrane, which increases the production price by 25%. In addition to that, our water repellent treatment will become 100% PFC free in 2017, which cost three times the price of normal water repellant. The performance is exactly the same as a non-eco water repellent treatment but many brands are afraid to use margin to go on that direction. The industry follows the trend and with one of our best allies in that cause, Patagonia, we try to be trendsetters pulling the industry in the good direction.
[Organic cotton and Picture's 'We Are' summed up]
In a sport such as snowboarding it’s pretty damned hard to be 100% ‘green’. What are the most important, environmentally damaging processes you’ve scaled back on using, or simply never used?
The worst is PFC, a component that you will find in the water repellant treatment. By abrasion PFC drops from jackets on the floor, goes into water and pollutes sources and lakes. The biggest issue is that PFC is carcinogenic and today, drinking water coming from the mountains means drinking polluted water. Greenpeace is pushing companies to move all their water repellant treatment to PFC free treatment which is unfortunately three time more costly for the company.
Money is driving the world but sometimes the world has to react because our health is in danger. Some changes are much more than marketing. More other processes are also important like dying fabrics without chemicals, printing on garments with solvent free serigraphy (solvents have a very bad impact on workers when they press), etc.
Can you talk us through the ways in which you’ve made your outerwear more environmentally friendly?
We explain in our “We Are" campaign how we made outerwear more environmentally friendly:
-We Are Eco-designed: 100% of our products have been design with the environment in mind, from the raw materials to the end of life
-We Are Organic: 100% of our cotton collection is made from certified organic cotton
-We Are Recycled: 100% of our technical outerwear is made from recycled materials
-We Are PFOA free: 100% of our fabrics durable water repellent treatments are PFOA Free since 2011
-We Are Recycling: together with key retailers we are collecting and recycling textile products through our Picture recycling program
-We Are Taking care: we are closely following the social and environmental responsibility of our supply chain with external partners. All fabrics used in our products are Oeko-tex standard 100 certified and/or Bluesign approved fabrics
"Money is driving the world but sometimes the world has to react because our health is in danger."
We are also proud to show our differences thanks to labels like:
- GOTS & Organic Textile Standard: 95% of Picture products using cotton are made out of organic cotton. 5% left are made of cotton from recovery fabrics.
-OEKOTEX: 100% of main fabrics are fully certified Oekotex 100: the international reference label guaranteeing non-toxicity of products used.
-TAIWAN GREEN MARK: 100% of technical products are made with minimum of 50% recycled polyester. This is a label from the Taiwanese government guaranteeing the traceability of recycled polyester and recycled polyamide.
-Bluesign approved Fabric: The Bluesign® system is the solution for a sustainable textile production. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production
90% of Picture’s products are made of Bluesign approved fabric.
Recycling old clothes is also important. Explain how your Picture Recycling Program works?
Picture Organic Clothing is committed to reducing its carbon footprint to a minimum. In 2013, we created the 100% recyclable Welcome jacket. Today, we go further by launching the Picture Recycling Program: a recycling and reuse solution – for all textile products – which aims to limit the amount of waste that is trashed (incinerated or buried). By dropping-off your old clothes, bags and other textile accessories, you are contributing to reuse and recycling. You will be surprised to see how your old snow jacket can be transformed!
Our program also includes recycling old skateboards. We will reuse the wood of old skateboards and give them a second life! In addition, along with our recycling program, we ask our stores to return our stretched canvases used for advertisement. They will be recycled into shopping bags that we will send back to the participating stores. So we have come full circle!
Thanks to this project, we also developed a Picture Recycling Bin which collected all end of life Picture products (clothing, backpacks, beanies, caps) and all textile products in general, no matter the brand, that can be find in all Picture’s partners stores.
Three second lives are possible for those products:
1. Donation – Picture makes a selection to separate the items that are in good condition. These will be given to charity, to people who are in need.
2. Recycling – Picture is supported by a network of recycling specialists. The collected items that are mono-material (100% cotton, 100% polyester) and no longer wearable will be recycled into bags, polyester jackets will make new polyester jackets and who knows maybe your recycled jeans will be used as insulation for your future house!
3. Re-Use – In partnership with the OWL – Outdoor Waste Lab team, multi-material non-wearable collected products will be recycled in a more creative way to become promotional items or accessories in limited editions for our partner stores.
By all accounts, Picture has enjoyed great success since starting in 2009. What do you attribute this to?
In 2009 there was nothing new since Volcom in the 90s and we came in the
market with a clear redline:
- A NEW DESIGN. Jeremy and his team doesn’t have a fashion designer background but an architectural background, which allow them to think the products differently.
- A NEW PHILOSOPHY. Everything we do is all eco-friendly made with a minimum of 50% recycled polyester, 50% organic cotton or made from recovered fabrics.
- A NEW WAY OF THINKING. Because we are neither a ski or snowboard brand; we are an environmental action outdoor brand dedicated to boardsports.
Today, everything is a question of creation, we imagine the products in a different way, from the end of life to the creation to be as eco-friendly as possible. We will always stretch the limits to find responsible and durable innovations.
"We are working on developing each piece of a jacket like a puzzle made one by one without waste."
Moving forward, what’s next for Picture - both in terms of new outerwear technologies/designs and more broadly for the direction of the company?
We are working on developing each piece of a jacket like a puzzle made one by one without waste. At the moment we are buying rolls of fabric and we cut the pieces we need out of it. This creates a lot of waste which has to be recycled. That innovation is an environmental innovation and production process innovation. Without a value for the consumer but with big value for our planet.
The recyclability of the product is part of the designers’ biggest preoccupations. We launched two years ago the project “2020 100% recyclable" kick off by the Welcome jacket ispo award. Our jacket uses the RPET 100% recyclable membrane. It is composed by the same external and internal material, which makes the product made with only one material which makes the product monomaterial and therefore has a 100% recyclability. That innovation had received in 2013 the ispo award to be the first jacket 100% recyclable in the market. That innovation has been transferred to more than 40% of our products with one aim: transferred/forwarding this technology to 100% of our products in 2020.