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Modern Fashion: Eric Gautier of Polyver Sweden On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadice

Fashion is about emotion. It contributes to making people feel more alive even if nobody really needs fashion to live. We are not talking about healthcare here but it is more complicated than it seems. Fashion is deeply rooted in everybody’s way of life. It is part of the personality, intimately, the number one thing that you need to be successful in fashion is Love. It is true love for an experience, for the people sharing the same experience with your product.

Many in the fashion industry have been making huge pivots in their business models. Many have turned away from the fast fashion trend. Many have been focusing on fashion that also makes a social impact. Many have turned to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many have turned to hi tech manufacturing. Many have turned to subscription models. What are the other trends that we will see in the fashion industry? What does it take to lead a successful fashion brand today?

In our series called, “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today” we are talking to successful leaders of fashion brands who can talk about the Future of Fashion and the 5 things it takes to lead a successful fashion brand in our “new normal.”

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Eric Gautier.

Born and raised in Paris, Eric dreamt about open spaces and adventure. He fell in love with the US during a trip when he was just a teenager. Traveling between Europe and the US, Eric is now in charge of Polyver Sweden — the perfect balance between the American way of life and European design.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I was born and raised in Versailles, the chic lower west side suburbs of Paris. A pretty conservative environment where Louis XIV seems to check every move you make. I had a pretty balanced childhood between culture, arts, good schools and an intensive practice of martial arts. It sounds like a “knight” education, right?

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I originally wanted to be involved in the art business. I am a terrible artist but I always enjoyed the arts very much. I represented some sculptors and painters in the early 90s. Though my work with artists afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, I found the art business to be too focused on capital gain versus creative gain. Hence, I looked towards the fashion world which I found to be very healthy with high-creativity. Fashion is also part of people’s lives. It’s beyond looking good — it’s about representing one’s heart and soul.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have always been impressed by artists — designers, architects, developers, etc. — people that create like we breathe. In my opinion, God exists through arts. There is no other explanation. In the early 2000s, I was driving a project related to sunglasses. We were pretty proud of a new design that we created that included a unique rubber hinge. On this project, I met with an artist who was commissioned to create some paint artwork that we could apply on the frames. He introduced himself as a vehicle of spirits. He said, “ I do not paint, spirits do, they use my body to express themselves”. Okay then, I said, let’s start! He performed four to five major artworks without stopping in less than an hour. And they were all fantastic. I have to say that I did not know what to believe at that moment. This man left and I have no clue who he was and never saw him again.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I am old school. Passion is key. You can make mistakes when you are driven by passion but great work comes from passion — not from focus groups or business plans. Vision is the second one. Forward thinking in other words. The last one is resilience because you need a lot of that to carry out a vision with passion.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Polyver started small. We only made boots for local people in the North of Sweden. When I joined the team, I toured Scandinavia and asked people: “what are the boots good for?” I got so many different answers such as: farming, ice fishing, playing outside, snowmobiling, etc. Then I started to compare with other brands, especially in the US. I always found a pair of boots better than us for each specific activity. So why buy Polyver? I then realized that Polyver boots are unique and people love the brand because they can do everything with it. For example, snowmobiling in Sweden, riders have specific boots but they carry their Polyver boots for when they arrive at their destination. It does not matter if you already have another pair of boots you still need Polyver Sweden boots, like your favorite sneakers.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“imaginer c’est choisir” (To Imagine is To choose) from Jean Giono. That is so relevant.To imagine is the best way to be free. This is beyond being successful in business. It iis about acquiring and preserving one’s own freedom. There are so many great examples of great achievements like Coco Chanel wearing and designing pants for women. Coco was not the first one to do so but she was the first one to make it as a statement and lead this major change for all women.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

Sustainability vs fast fashion is definitely the main topic for the decades to come. Many surveys show that over 60% of the 16–25 age group are extremely worried about climate change. This generation is already changing the way we produce and market products. Reassurance takes over comfort. In order to feel comfortable with a product, consumers expect more than a good cut. At Polyver Sweden, we are fully engaged in that process. We design and manufacture models that are timeless and much more durable than our direct competitors. In Sweden, people wear our boots every winter day (we have a very long winter) and for many seasons in a row. Our design lasts. There is a good chance that our 2024 Classic series will be the exact same model as our 2023 Classic Series. All new models are limited in a number of variations, colors and are designed to last.

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

We say “Enjoy Outdoors” and we believe in that. In Sweden, we have long cold winters with not much daylight but the vast majority of Swedish people spend good time outside everyday, even kids at school. It is our duty to provide the best gear to support this great way of life. Otherwise they would freeze outside and will run back inside to watch a screening device. Being outside is healthy, good for the mind, good for social life and for the body.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

We manufacture 100% in Sweden. We source locally and we recycle production waste into heating systems for the community.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

Fast fashion does not last long because a new model pushes the previous one out. It is more about marketing than quality. There is fast fashion in luxury brands too. We actually do the opposite. The gratification comes from the use of our boots. The more you wear Polyver boots, the more you like our brand. The tricky part is to successfully launch new models because our clients keep buying the old models over and over. We have extremely loyal customers. We are blessed.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

Fashion is about emotion. It contributes to making people feel more alive even if nobody really needs fashion to live. We are not talking about healthcare here but it is more complicated than it seems. Fashion is deeply rooted in everybody’s way of life. It is part of the personality, intimately, the number one thing that you need to be successful in fashion is Love. It is true love for an experience, for the people sharing the same experience with your product.

Passion. A fashion brand has to be true to itself to have loyal clients but it has to be driven by passion to have fans. Luxury car markers have loyal customers because they deliver a promised experience but Tesla or Porsche have passionate fans…that’s a huge difference.

Then comes Trust. As a leader, you need to trust your team with their talents, their commitment to the brand and their ability to imagine every single day. Defiance kills creativity. Trust is the guarantee that you understand and support whatever happens because even a failure driven by passion and imagination is part of the production process in fashion. Fans understand such failure also because they trust you back.

Talent. We understand it when we see it. You can work on it and usually very talented people work on it everyday but it also comes out of nowhere as a gift. Talent is the ability to make a difference when it counts. To see things earlier than others. To create a song, a painting, a story, a design and so on like it is so obvious for so many people receiving it. I try to attract and keep talented people

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I am back to sustainability. Even beyond reducing fast fashion, we have to work much less inventory. Right now, most brands produce products based on purchase programs from buyers but not from consumers. We manufacture, stock, deliver to stores and hope (with some good marketing) that people will love what we produced. We obviously have a lot of room for improvement here. Some new brand business models are actually based on pre-orders only. They also produce locally. This is an improvement.. We are trying to be careful with stock but people are still used to buying winter boots the morning it starts to snow. It is not easy to apply the pre-ordering here but a slower pace to launch new models is already a good system for us to produce a fair level of inventory and limit waste.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

After watching: “Kiss the Ground” on Netflix, I was even more convinced to champion the saving of our planet. We just reached the 8 billion mark in the world population and we will be 10 billion people in 2050, before starting a decrease. The solution is more about healing than hitting softer. I would not start a new movement but instead support strong initiatives like turning seaweed into biofuel & fertilizer. This initiative creates an unlimited supply of energy and regenerates oceans. I would support the fight against big guys killing such initiatives. We all have to do that.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.