By: Jenny Vogel
Holden has arrived just in time for the holidays! Streetwear inspired outerwear that is anything but boring. Holden Outerwear packs in so many technical bells and whistles, even Santa wonders how they fit ‘em all in there.
In 2002, Holden was born from the gutters of Portland. Retired pro-snowboarder Mike Leblanc and Scott Fitzgerald teamed up to bring the snowboard community progressive streetwear inspired outerwear. They blazed the path of eco-friendly technical wear; developing fabrics made of hemp and recycled plastic bottles, which won the company the 2006 Front & Sullivan Award for Product Innovation of the Year. Now they have come full circle to bring innovative outdoor performance back to the street. There are book smarts and there are streets smarts. Holden wondrously highlights both.
Holden Outerwear’s founder Mike Leblanc shares the meaning of Holden, the means to stay warm, and the meaning of life.
J: So Mikey, I hear that Holden is the Teutonic baby name meaning Gracious. Do you know any children named Holden?
ML: We have some fans with Holden as their names. We love it…But when we picked the name we wanted a name that was timeless and unobtrusive and that we could define over time by our actions as a brand.
J: What’s your favorite piece in the 2014 lineup?
ML: I like the Fishtail and the men’s puffy down, depending on the weather, I’ll use these. The Fishtail is a shell, and has a longer back cut which is great on the lift to sit on, and the Puffy is just great on cold days. I love being warm, so that’s my first choice.
J: Any new tech or features this year?
ML: Always some innovation in the eco-realms, really a lot of things under the hood that we add that are not seen by the naked eye, but do have an effect on the impact of the goods and everything.
J: Where do you get your website? WordPress, Weebly? I’ve tried both and mine aren’t as cool as yours…
ML: Thanks for the props… We use a platform now that will scale on any device and also be better for showing the products, videos, lookbooks and customer service. The sites I like are usually driven by great imagery, and we focus on that.
J: Did you know you’re the coolest outerwear company alive?
ML: Haha, no, but we do love and are driven to do what we do, so it’s nice to hear people, like yourself, are appreciating it!
J: One more thing, if you don’t mind. I see your outerwear as having a post-consumerism appeal. Timeless designs that minimize the need for updating ‘trendy’ looks, crossover use from snow to the street… I’m not sure if post-consumerism is a term you’d use, but I’d like to get your thoughts on that approach to sustainability.
ML: We always have and continue to design what we call “timeless quality” garments. What that means is they last both stylistically and they hold up technically over time. We have people say they use their garments for years and they still work great and that’s our goal. We also hear, “Holden is expensive” but I guess that’s coming from a short term perspective, as in if you get a trendy garment that’s almost unbelievably ugly to you a year or a few later, and it fails in the elements as well from crappy quality, what’s the math? If you spend 10 or 20% more on a Holden or another quality brand’s garment, and they last for years, it’s simple to see you’re not buying a new piece every year. So you are saving money in the long run.
J: Thanks for taking the time to sit and chat, very gracious of you. I see you live up to your name…