PURE Brandz lead the way in eco ski apparel

We Are Gold Coast | June 2016

PURE Brandz is not your usual clothing brand.

PURE Brandz (PURE) is a global innovator that has carved out its own niche and is showing the big names that it’s time to get environmentally and socially responsible.

It is the result of a lifetime obsession with building sport-apparel in a market that is increasingly concerned with the environment.

Husband and wife team Andy and Janet Thomas have been on this journey for 35 years which has seen the duo relocate to the Gold Coast – a place famous for its sub-tropical climate (and absence of snow).

With a shared passion for the outdoors – especially the ski slopes – the husband and wife duo set-out to manufacture snow apparel exclusively for the Australian and New Zealand markets.

“At the time, Australia was an isolated marketplace with a very small industry,” Andy said.

“We could go to the Northern Hemisphere, see what they were doing there, bring it back and customise it to our marketplace.

“We successfully operated like that for over 30 years,” he said.

In recent times, globalisation, the internet and cheap airline travel drastically disrupted PURE’s traditional business model.

Overseas ski destinations – Japan, Europe and Canada – became a more lucrative option, particularly with the introduction of cheap airline travel.

“To be successful we need to be globally competitive and need our own unique point-of-difference.”

“Sixty per cent of Australia’s skiers now travel to the Northern Hemisphere for their primary ski experience, and they are shopping at the opposite time of the year to what we were manufacturing.

“We had to move our production cycle from the Southern Hemisphere season so that we could sell into that marketplace.

“This meant that we could no longer replicate what was happening in other markets,” he said.

What could have been the demise of PURE ended up being the motivation that the team needed to reinvent and innovate to become a global leader in the eco-friendly sport apparel market.

Andy set out on a mission to reinvent and grow PURE with the mantra that ‘growth is integral and customer loyalty requires innovation’.

“To be successful we needed to be globally competitive and needed our own unique point-of-difference,” Andy said.

“We commissioned research through Bond University and found the most important things to our consumers are firstly technical performance, followed by value for money and green credentials.

“We reconnected with our consumers and recognised the constant concern was the environment; people have a growing awareness of the human impact on the environment.

“Coincidentally at the same time Greenpeace put out a report, ‘Chemistry for any weather’, which tested outdoor clothes for perfluorinated toxins and found that 100 per cent of tested jackets contained PFCs – a toxin that is carcinogenic and affects the reproductive system of humans and animals,” he said.

“Our challenge was to build a product that was technically superior, provided value-for-money and was environmentally friendly.”

PURE partnered with SympaTex, a German manufacturer to construct the new PURE range. The result is a new light-weight, higher-performance, fluorocarbon-free and 100 per cent recyclable product.

“SympaTex is made of environmentally harmless polyetherester,” Andy explained.

“The materials provide optimal breathability; superior water and wind proof (ISO811); and are manufactured using completely recyclable membranes.

“We now have a higher performing garment to the standard Gore-Tex and in most cases considerably cheaper,” he said.

PURE didn’t stop there. They wanted to push the brand further and in doing so found ways to take the company from simply a manufacturer of eco-friendly products to a socially and environmentally responsible company.

“Every PURE garment comes with a 10 per cent (of the purchase price) trade back,” Andy said.

“People can bring their used PURE garment to a retailer where they have a choice; they can take the value of the trade back against a new garment or they can donate the value of the trade back to an NGO of their choice.

“We then take these garments and we give them a second life; we give them to a charity to provide warmth for the homeless within that region for a winter.

“Each year, we exchange these old jackets with the most recently recycled jackets and it’s at this point that we deconstruct the old garments and reduce them down into the components to be reused.

“This program isn’t about the money; it’s about encouraging people to bring back their used garments so that we can actually reuse and recycle,” he said.

Thirty five years of business and this is just the beginning for PURE. With the new PURE range setting a standard in technical performance and environmental credentials and challenging the big names in the business, Andy is as passionate and focused as ever – ready to grow PURE globally.

Andy recently took part in the City of Gold Coast, Growth Accelerator Program and Emerging Exporters Program.

The programs, designed to assist businesses achieve growth, rapidly and sustainably, took Andy back to basics, refocused his attention and set him on a new path.

“What was highlighted through the program is that we can take this innovation and apply it to any active outdoor sport,” Andy said.

“There is not a great deal of difference between wet weather jackets, so we can modify our existing product and take it to specific markets.

“Right now we’re expanding with PURE mountain, PURE sailing, PURE golf,” he said.

The Growth Accelerator Program also introduced Andy to a range of Federal, State and Local Government resources to help him grow export markets. What ensued was a Gold Coast Business Excellence Award, connections into Austrade’s international networks and an understanding of EFIC – all proving critical to his future growth strategies and success.

After 35 years’ it’s evident that the world has inevitably opened up for PURE – a business on the cusp of global expansion.

See Business Gold Coast for more.

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