Wilde: the promise of an eco-friendly golf polo shirt


When someone asked on Facebook for a business study about a new golf brand apparel, you answer it. First by solidarity and then because, you may not know what the outcome will be. That’s what more than 500 people did. And today, we are about to see the first eco friendly apparel brand to make its first steps on the market. Above all it’s a french brand. With nothing more to add, I jumped on the opportunity to interview for my french podcast the founder and golf lover Pierre Valette.

 

Nicolas: Changing our mode of consumption and be more environmentally conscious and therefore responsible. This could be the key phrase of my conversation with the founder of Wilde with Pierre Valette. But that’s not all.  Today Pierre Valette, founder of Wilde tells us about his background but also what motivated him to create this new brand of eco-responsible golf clothing. This sports assistant at the golf club of Grasse in France, started to play golf at a very young age.

Pierre: I have been a golfer since a very young age. I started at the age of 5 at school. I fell right into it. I was in the United States for 5 years and came back last year wondering what I wanted to do. I wanted to work in a golf course. I also started looking for a parallel project linked to golf. What can I change in golf? I went around a bit of everything that was done in clothing today so with big leaders like Nike, Adidas, and Golfino who also innovates at the top of the range. I said to myself: Golf is is a sport where you are among nature, where you respect the environment, I see it like that. For me it is really a gift of nature in the open air, all the time and I told myself it is still a shame that there are no brands that are in this line: eco-friendly.

But hey, it’s when you take a look at where it’s made, how it’s not very ethical. I said to myself, what can you do to improve this. I started looking for several eco-friendly materials that do not pollute and after several months of research I came across a material called Tencel Lyocell. It’s a fabric made out of eucalyptus fibers from eco responsible crops in Austria. What you need to know about eucalyptus is a tree that consumes very little water compared to cotton, for example. There is no watering done on these forests. It’s really rainwater. It is more than enough to make it grow and grow. It is also a tree that regenerates very quickly, which grows very quickly. Today, finally for this collection it is the material that I chose because for me it has an environmental impact. It’s really very interesting to combine them with certified organic cotton so it consumes much less traditional cotton.

Nicolas: Ok I can see you coming: Oh another golf apparel brand! Well Wilde is a little bit more and Pierre is going to explain you why.

Pierre: Why Wilde? Because I wanted to return to this wild spirit, this natural spirit. Why an “e” at the end? Quite simply to make it a little more French as it is a French brand also signifying a little the ecological impact that I wanted to bring to this brand. It (The logo) differs depending on the person. Which is funny. People see different animals. I’ve heard foxes, cats at the base it was a wolf it is the silhouette of a wolf with clubs as eyes. Because for me, it is the animal which represents the wild state and the state of nature par excellence. That’s why we made this choice. The development project for Wilde is to launch this first collection this year in 2020. With polo shirts only in three colors so as not to overproduce either and especially to see how this brand takes with the general public. The peculiarity of the polo shirts is that they are Mao collars. I find that for me much more elegant there are the purists who do not like. Some golfers like to have collars to flip them over in the summer. For us it was a decision to also change the classic codes of golf shirts a little.

Nicolas: We really what we want to know where we will be able to purchase them and if the brand is really eco-friendly.

Pierre: The future would be to develop a full range of ready-to-wear with plant material for the winter. For example, there is a material called lenpur. It is also a vegetable cashmere which is very similar to Cashmere but pollute less. I’m trying to see what it is possible to do with lotus flowers for everything that is waterproof rainwear to keep this vegetal side because it is starting to develop quite a bit as well.

You should know that for any order or any purchase of a golf polo shirt, we will plant an eucalyptus tree so that it has less impact. You should know that to make a Wilde polo, it is one eucalyptus tree so it will be replanted for any purchase.

For the collection, there will be women’s and men’s pieces but which will be in the same colors, very simple colors: blue, white and red; a dark blue, a little flash red and a classic white. It is a French brand and it is the bias for three colors. I don’t like to say first collection because that would mean having to produce every year, twice a year for collections. I hope that these will be polo shirts that will remain classics and that we will renew with new colors, maybe new design. I am not at all in this perspective of producing a lot a lot of stock every year. And finally sell it off at the end of the season because it didn’t sell. I really want it to be a timeless piece of clothing and that it is really the approach behind it and the comfort above all because it is true that beyond all the good ecological aspects, time presents that of the super aspects techniques.

I tried them several times this summer while playing golf etc. And it is true that it is a material that dries very quickly. We don’t have that unpleasant smell that you can have in other materials like polyester, things like that too, it’s super soft. It is comparable to silk and it is really a fairly technical job. Casually which was designed really for the comfort of the player of course at first and secondly for this ecological approach that I mentioned.

Also the shipping boxes for Wilde are made from recycled grass to stay in that line, which is super original. It is a kind of kraft paper but really made more than 80% with recycled grass which has been cut biodegradable without polluting. We try to use only one color to allow us to use less polluting inks as well.

Nicolas: Now to recap. Wilde is an eco brand responsible from A to Z from the manufacturing to the packaging. Now what we want to say is where we are going to be able to find them.

Pierre: When I started the brand, I wanted to use the Internet channel mainly. But after a few thoughts about it, I tell myself that clothing is something that you need to feel, touch. It’s a little bit different because people like to try, to touch. On the Internet, it’s quite complicated to do it except for brands like Lacoste. With them, we know the feel of a Lacoste polo shirt, we know its size, etc. We will order it on the Internet because we know what it is. But me at first I am in the process of canvassing eco friendly golf courses in France. We have ten. What they mean by eco-friendly is that they make big closed circuits of water which saves a lot of water. There are others, it’s non-chemical pesticides that are used so zero chemical pesticides on the course. So I was targeting these points mainly mainly to be linked to this brand.

It’s a relatively small stock in the first year so I can’t block 10 or 15 pieces per pro shop either. Because in the end after me I need to keep a little stock also for the Internet platform, target some golf courses all over France to make it discover with people and also a lot of communication on the networks as for this brand we target more an audience of amateurs: we will say from 20 years to 40-50 years because you have to know the sale price of this polo shirt 69 euros TTC.

We are as expensive as an Adidas polo shirt or something. But with properties that are much more interesting to me. Of course, priority is France and Europe and in a few years I hope to be able to open the market to Europe in a few years if the launch is successful.

I am very transparent with this brand. I have 900 pieces in total. My goal is to sell 300 so just a third to cover business and creation costs that have been incurred to date. If I sell more, I would be delighted. If I sell 300, I would also be delighted because the objective will be reached and I hope to be able to reach it I will do everything for. And then we will see above all.
I think there is a certain demand for products like that which are eco-friendly. The main thing is to make yourself known.

For me it is the most complicated thing in this project it is to have visibility and to make known what it is necessary to know is that on this project there I am all alone. I work with other people for example this person who does all the graphic part (Camille Minguet).

She made part of the website as well as the logo. But it’s true that I’m alone so what I miss today it’s partners. Unfortunately I just can’t afford them because it’s still a brand new business. It is quite expensive. For now I would say that these are partners who are lacking in funding. I also want to have some financing via conventional banks who follow me in this project what I am doing for this year. I will try to support some young people who are promising in Golf and to sponsor, offer them clothes etc. So there are already a lot of people who are interested on social networks.

I have had a lot of feedback that people who represent the brand are that have the same mindset. What I ask of players who contact me, not just because they need a sponsor. But it’s true there are many who contact me just because they hope that you will make them a check for 10.000 € give them 3 – 4 polo shirts for the season.

Nicolas: Practically alone apart from his friend Florent Alès or his graphic designer Camille Minguet, Pierre explores absolutely all the possibilities of financing and even that of crowdfunding.

Pierre: Before the launch at the end of the year after Christmas, at the beginning of January, I really want to launch a campaign on a Kickstarter style platform, or Ulule to present the project and raise funds to help me with the launch. Of course it will be expensive, you have to do marketing and marketing is relatively expensive. You have to make tags on the little labels that are hung on your clothes in stores. You also have to think about a lot of small details and in addition to communication which today is relatively expensive. If you want to be a minimum present then it is extremely expensive to create a brand of clothing and to publicize it it is very expensive.

It is true that it intrigues and that it interests a lot of people. As soon as I talk about it a little bit in depth because it’s true that when you just see on the networks as you say I think it’s perceived a bit like a brand. This is a new brand of clothing. So when you dig a little it’s not really what it looks like.

Nicolas: Before closing this episode. I wanted to thank Pierre who during this interview was very open both on his approach and his objectives. In the meantime do not hesitate to go to the Facebook page as well as the site, I will put the links in description.
See you soon. Chao.

This is an edited transcription of the podcast recorded in French.

About Nicolas BYKOFF

Writing about golf? Why not? After having spent nearly 20 years in the game, I am granting myself the right to write about golf. Don't agree? Contact me.

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