The Secret to Salomon’s Success

How did a 75-year-old skiing label become a major footwear player?

Collaborations have obviously been an important part of Salomon’s journey, and the collaborative partners have to be a suitable fit. “Before brands, we’re all human beings,” continues Lalonde. “If we’re not connecting on values and who we are as people, you’ll feel it in the end product.” For Salomon, driving all of these connections and collaborations are the same ideas on which it was founded. “One of the main things is authenticity,” explains Lalonde. “If The Broken Arm, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Rei Kawakubo and Palace have all come to work with us, it’s because we’ve been staying true to our proposition.”

Fans of the brand, including SEVENSTORE’s Macdonald, are keen to stress that Salomon’s collaboration strategy is only part of the story. “The collaborations add the icing on the cake to the brand,” he adds. “But for me, it’s all about the inline product and the iconic franchises such as the XT-6, XT-4 and XT-Wings. The brand is exceptionally good at colorways and each they reinvent classic silhouettes with innovative colors and fabric mix-ups.”

As well as the popularity that has come from new colorways and collaborations, the Salomon team believes people are attracted to the brand through a combination of the brand’s performance credentials and aesthetic approach. “In terms of comfort and control, the performance aspect brings the basics,” Chirpaz adds. “We approach performance with a progressive mindset, so it has generated technologies, features and designs that are progressive.”

“One of the main things is authenticity. If The Broken Arm, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Rei Kawakubo and Palace have all come to work with us, it’s because we’ve been staying true to our proposition.”

Both Lalonde and Grenet have another way of looking at this, pointing to the XT-6’s origins. “It was designed for pure performance, comfort and efficiency,” says Grenet. The sneaker was originally produced for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 170km race around the trails of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. “So if you’re just wearing it for two or three kilometres of walking in the city,” Lalonde says, “you’re going to be fine.”

The XT-6’s origins in the Alps, and Salomon’s home in Annecy, are also reflected in the aesthetic appeal of the brand. “I like to present our Sportstyle project as a gateway to the outdoors,” Lalonde continues. “When you’re looking at the XT-6, it propels you around the Mont Blanc, it propels you around the trails. If you’re in Paris or London, this is nowhere near your daily routine, but it brings you to a beautiful place.”

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While the brand’s heritage is central to what it does, Salomon is also moving beyond being just an outdoors label. “We are not attached specifically to outdoors,” Chirpaz says. “We are attached to progressiveness and performance.” These values are at the front of the brand’s next chapter, which will see it take on one of the biggest issues of the present moment, beginning with the sustainable and recyclable Index.01 sneaker. “We are in traditional sports that are not the most sustainable, and it’s something we really want to approach,” Chirpaz adds. “We don’t want to make it a claim, but making sure we have a sustainable approach to the outdoors.”

Salomon’s progressive outlook is driven by its Alpine roots in Annecy, and an outward looking approach to collaboration and cooperation it has had since the early days. “Our heart is Annecy, but our position has always been international and about hybridization,” Chirpaz says. “We are in the heart of the Alps, which is a core place for core sports, this is our testing area and I think that’s important. But we are in touch with a lot of international communities, and that’s almost as important as maintaining our heart in the Alps.”

Source Hypebeast