Ben Mears, global creative director, North Sails, explains how he wants to lead this 62-year-old sportswear brand to the next level by becoming more environmentally friendly as it expands internationally.
What is North Sails concentrating on for the future?
Our love for the sea is what we are made of and why we exist. Everything originates from it. Though, also important is how we want to do it, as our aim is to explore more, but also use less.
For this reason our f/w 2019-20 collection focuses on two main concepts: the ’90s and Urban Style C2 “From Coast to City.” One revamps the ’90s that have a great appeal on Generation Z with its colorblocking and huge logos, as they are new for this target. The other one, our Urban Style C2 collection, brings the same protection used for sailing apparel though adapted for city life. Both souls of our offer are strongly focused on eco-friendliness.
Can you explain how exactly?
In f/w 2018-19 we offered one outer jacket made with recycled materials. In s/s 2019, 30% of the collection was made with recycled and sustainable materials as we added jackets, T-shirts, sweatshirts and bathing suits. For f/w 2019-20, 70% of the collection’s outerwear volume is made with recycled materials. We are working hard to increase this percentage further.
Part of the collection are also jackets made with recycled North Sails spinnaker fabrics and jackets made with a recycled polyester fabric for the outer part and padded with a Thermore Classic padding obtained by recycling five PET bottles.
For jerseys and sweatshirts we’re only using half the standard amount of dye and water as we employ a mélange yarn mixed with a colored yarn.
For our polo shirts we use a compact pique construction. This way we have created a stretch pique that requires no Lycra.
What are your next targets?
Our target is to end up offering 100% of our products produced according to eco-friendly criteria, while keeping intact our protection and functionality standards. This is possible by also keeping our prices accessible. We can achieve our goal by employing alternative fibers to cotton by using, for instance, also bamboo, hemp and viscose. Though before we reach our goal we still have to work intensely.
Where are you selling now and through how many doors?
Right now we are selling through more than 1,000 wholesale customers in Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, and through our e-commerce channel. We also operate in Italy through 18 monobrand stores–including two newly inaugurated ones in Rome and Bologna that add up to the existing ones including Milan, Genoa, Florence, Porto Cervo and Turin. We also sell through 21 franchised stores in Italy and other monobrands in Saint-Tropez (France), Barcelona (Spain) and Hamburg (Germany).