Wild Ingenuity™: Element Brand and its Collab with Hotel Radio Paris, Why it Matters for 2022

We sat down with some of the global leaders in urban culture, streetwear and innovation for this exclusive look at a unique partnership. We hope you have a moment to enjoy some of their insights on how the Vanish pillars Nature, Culture, and Future, influence this work.

// What should people know about Hotel Radio Paris?
JC Leuvrey, founder Hotel Radio Paris

The radio show was created 5 years ago and the idea was to create a platform of free speech where anyone could express himself. Usually we are based in Paris so people have to come to do that but with the radio tour we did with Element we decided to get closer to communities and bring them together around one spot .

// How did this partnership or collaboration come to life?
Rey Gautier, Global Creative Director, Element:

We were at a launch for the Nigel Cabourn + Element collection in Paris held at the now defunct NOUS store, when I met JC for the first time. We simply got talking about skateboarding, music, life and having both spent many years living in London, we knew a lot of people in common.

I had been following Hotel Radio Paris for some time and loved the platform it creates to showcase young, diverse and eclectic talents through an independent web radio.  JC is a skateboarder with great passion for outdoor pursuits, so essentially after this first chance connection in Paris, we continued through a number of project launches with JC who provided the music component. Fast forward six months and we had the idea to create a collection curated between Element and HRP, based on the principles we loved combing skateboarding, music and outdoor culture and pursuits we all naturally practice. I thought it would be fresh to have someone direct the range of products coming from a web radio, it was something different as JC has a great sense of what he wanted whist not being a designer, it was really instinctive and DIY.

The way we set it up was very much like a start up concept, with JC just talking and the design team listening in order to find the right balance for fits, shapes, detailing. It came down to a specific fabric choices also, which is why we partnered with the Polartec brand to cover all the bases in using fabrics from their premium performance materials (Neo Shell, Thermal Pro, etc…) With a few fabrics, we created a capsule that for us perfectly bridged the diverse use the product was designed for, urban to outdoor without having to compromise nor change from one use to another, with a few subtle details crossing over from JC’s love of fishing which we managed to integrate without it being too obvious.

The launches are really interesting as they are in globally strategic cities, combing all the elements we have as the foundation for the project – outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, bouldering, live performances through the carefully curated roster of localised artist JC put together and of course all the connections through the web radio itself and skate sessions to it all off. All in couple of days each time, which demonstrates that with one set of gear, you can get it all done, without a change, without hassle, comfortably, with style and ease.. it was kind of the point of the garments. They function and yet designed so that you don’t feel like a faux mountaineer in the city. There will be more on the pipeline with JC in the future … when you get on, you get on and ideas are easy to have with creative people on the same page.


// How does Nature influence the work?
Rey Gautier, Global Creative Director, Element

It’s our primary source of inspiration.

The brand has been for 30 years influenced by, engaged with, inspired by nature. The things we ride on are grown in forests, so naturally we can only be inspired by the source, which is nature and the elements within. The brand’s tree icon has communicated this for 30 years.

The people at the heart of shaping Element are all involved in some or several outdoor related activity in addition to skateboarding. It is part of the DNA of the brand and the people whose interaction shapes the brand, so the personal investment and connection to nature is paramount.

This influences even on a detailed level, our color pallets, our creative and design direction, patterns, designs,  the artists and ambassadors we work with.

The brand is based on Skateboarding, Nature and Culture, with the culture essentially creating the glue between skateboarding and nature, as it is the culture we create with our participants, the vision we have that does not mean that to engage with nature you necessarily need to scale a mountain, but is in the day to day as urban dwellers participating with habits that take us into nature.

Increasingly, the lines blur, the ability to reach out into nature through fluid motion from work to play is ever evolving and adopted by young participants who keep it fresh, whether its bouldering, running, cycling, camping, fishing…its the youth who are pushing the boundaries of these disciplines, crossing the lines, undoing the preset codes set by the oder generations… This keeps it all moving forward and interesting. There so may skateboarders and crews now cycling, climbing, running etc… The bring to outdoor activity that DIY uncoded aesthetic and attitude, this is what we love about being connected to nature.


// What is the in store for the future?
Rey Gautier, Global Creative Director, Element

We are a skateboard brand deeply invested in our connection to nature and bring youth to nature, through skateboarding. This is from skateboard brand perspective different and consistent with ourselves, since thirty years now. Less interested in the trend,  but more into our own culture of bridging skateboarding with nature through outdoor. We have a great project coming out in Spring 2022 with a phenomenal bike company founded by skateboarders where we worked on a special bicycle and small selection of accompanying apparel.

For the Fall of 2022 we have a big project with a vertical mountaineering company, creating a link between the technical expertise they specialise in and reshaping through the lens or skateboarding. Part of this collection uses highly technical dead-stock fabrics in limited editions (due to the fabrics nature and limited meterage available) which is then underpinned by a mainline collection. There are many projects on the boil on the skateboard side also, with a lot of R&D development which I can’t go into, but also many projects with riders and parts to be launched throughout 2022, which will be the 30 years of Element. Basically, tons of projects going on with fabric mills, artists, riders, external partnership companies etc.. keeps it all rolling so that we keep learning and evolving.

// Why now?
Rey Gautier, Global Creative Director, Element

2022 is 30 years of being committed to skateboarding, nature and culture! Projects planned will roll out throughout 2022 to celebrate the brand’s commitment to the values we adhere to. Also, Its actually a relatively small team who run and work on Element and global HQ is actually based in Europe, where everything is conceived, designed, developed, marketed etc.

From the outside, it seems much larger a team than it actually is, which is really good for the team and the brand and we are working together daily across multiple functions, with eclectic backgrounds which compliments the group work as we all sing from the same hymn sheet as our fundamental principles and engagements are aligned. As we all work together from one space, the experiences and diversity is really key, especially on a global market scale, it makes for interesting exchanges on what and how we develop and yet, keeps the brand team at a really good personal size, which helps to keep the team tight and committed.

// What makes this project unique among other things you’ve done like this?
Eric Yung, VP International Polartec

A key component of our marketing activities is cooperating together with brands in order to support their launches as well as promote our ingredient brand through these. What made this ‘joint marketing’ action stand out is the unique combination of retail and digital presence, artistic feel, urban AND outdoor activities. Joint marketing, the way Polartec likes doing it, is not a fixed program, but a dialogue to build a campaign that benefits all parties. This partnership with Element and Hotel Radio Paris perfectly reflects all this.

// Why did you want to do this collaboration?

Beyond the fact we discovered a great bunch of people and fresh outdoor garments made by Element with some of our best Polartec technologies like Neoshell, what struck us is how incredibly aligned our strategies were. Since several years, we witness the emergence of new consumer needs for more versatility in apparel, because of their lifestyle and expectation of technical apparel in a much bigger range of situations. When Element told us they wanted to speak to consumers who skate, fish and enjoy good music downtown… this just sounded spot on! Versatility, comfort and technology is what Polartec brings to the equation, in addition to authenticity that is key to that audience.