These past few years, technical footwear and in general functionality driven fashion has gained quite some space in the fashion sphere. As shown by the new collaboration between Salomon and The Broken Arm, an avant-gardiste Parisian fashion boutique. With a first successful collaboration on the SnowCross sneaker, the brand and the shop reiterated their association for a monochrome capsule collection, in an all black version. Four pieces for Trail Running, centered around functionality and technicality. We met Guillaume Steinmetz, one of the co-founders of The Broken Arm, to find out more.
Salomon is an Haute-Savoie sportswear brand*, which technicality is a French excellence signature in the sports world. In a rapidly expanding urban urban aesthetic, this new collaboration has managed to merge the codes of athleisure with those of the modern Parisian wardrobe.
* A French department where you can find the Mont-Blanc – I specify because I have a particular sensibility for this brand. Its headquarters are located in Annecy, where I spent my teenage years. I was born in Chamonix, so I absolutely love technical brands dedicated to mountain sports.
The choice of monochrome symbolizes the radical will of developing products where the innovation of the fabric is first and foremost. Every typology part is unique and perfectly supports the runner whether they are in the city or running ultra trails in the mountains (which by the way will happen as every year, from August 28 to September 3 in Chamonix).
The collection is exclusively available at The Broken Arm and also on the e-shop.
CLAUSETTE.CC: you started your collaboration with salomon on the snowcross sneaker, two years ago. where did this collab come from, what inspired it?
Guillaume Steinmetz: “The Broken Arm is a boutique of designers’ fashion. Most of the designers we sell have a research approach: these are avant-garde brands, which enter by the technique, rather than a stylistic approach. Our vision, as curators, is to sell coup de coeur products, which can provoke an emotion; our clothes but also our accessories go in this direction. It is the same typology of emotion that we can find through a different aesthetic approach. Romain (Joste, one of the co-founders of The Broken Arm) and I do a lot of running and trail. Beyond the misappropriation vision, we also wanted to explore a more first degree vision, of the usage of sport products.
We consider innovation as useful when it does answer an athlete’s need, from its active practice of it. It has to be able, for example, to improve its performances or make it possible on difficult grounds, and therefore offer the athlete the best possible conditions.
From this exploration, the most aesthetically interesting project emerge (which are fundamentally conceived to answer a need, around a functionality). Mass market brands (which address a lifestyle market, where there are more compromises in terms of design) are very different from brands such as Salomon, which first of all answers a need, through a functionality and with no compromise.
We have always been interested by these brands, so naturally, when Salomon wanted to meet us to understand why a shop like us would want to sell their products, we were happy to.
In a misappropriation aspect, it would work as well, but we wanted to go further by keeping this authentic aspect Salomon products have, and thus not betraying its DNA. Today, a brand like Salomon is cool because they are what they are. So we wanted to leave the products as pure as possible, and not acting as styling apprentices.
For us, this collaboration is an association of what is the most interesting technically to apply it to a piece of clothing.“
C.: this new collaboration is centered around the proprietary technologies of salomon, why?
G. S.:“Because we think this is the most important to put forward. To generate new customers, technical brands often think they have to find new colours, work with trend bureaux, address a new target (for example, the trailer’s wife) through new colour propositions. We wanted to offer the opposite. When you run, you look for product efficiency first. For us, the ideal is a unicolour product, that we have in several pieces – so that when one is dirty, we can still run without wearing unlikely colours associations.
Everything that will create the strong aspect of the product, are all these technical details. This is what makes it something strong in terms of aesthetic. We wanted to “switch off” certain things to make it more like our vision of the practice. We don’t want to be a fashionista when we go for a 10 kilometers run, but rather a beautiful, efficient and functional outfit.”
C.: which TECHNOLOGIES did you use?
G. S.:“For this collaboration, we used anti-friction, cladding technologies, and fabrics that offer a better support of the legs or breathing textiles. It is a surgical work that we find very beautiful. However, we totally trusted Salomon’s teams, we are running, but we are neither top level athletes nor engineers. We wanted to work with their expertise, and adapt it to the people who will take it to the streets, that is to say our customers.
There is often a tendency to confuse products designed for professional athletes and those for the general public. Yet it is important to bring a suitable response to a particular need: the Sunday rider needs something very damping, because he does not run often. It would be inappropriate, if not dangerous, for this person to wear a shoe made for a Kenyan marathon runner.
Our approach was therefore to develop a shoe adapted to this target, which meets this particular need. We did not want to pile up the technologies without having a clear reflection, but rather to do something in this approach that is strong because of its simplicity: a technique highlighted for a comfortable shoe to run.”
C.: a few words on collaborations between brands and boutiques, and on your way of working with salomon?
G.S.: “Salomon sought to meet us first to understand why a shop like ours wanted to sell their products. This meeting resulted in a respectful collaboration, which emerged naturally. We respect Solomon very much and had no desire to make it the last cool brand. We brought them our vision of practicality and our use of their products.
These collaborations were made through a lot of discussions to understand the need. Because Solomon is a brand that meets needs. We are neither stylists nor designers. We are a shop. By dint of seeing our customers, we have accumulated a lot of insights and identified things we wanted to solve.
It’s important to us, everyone has their room in their expertise, we are very lucid on this subject. We are breeders, we know how to put things in abeyance, but not creating them from scratch. “
C.: what is your vision of the future of fashion, and of the room for innovation in this future?
G.S.: “I am unable to answer you: what I like is to be surprised, that it is unexpected for me, that the people whose job it is to, surprise me. I do not want to anticipate the future, I am incapable of it, I just know that I liked the evolution of things when it was the right relationship between the response to a need and made in an aesthetically interesting way.
I understand that at this moment there is a quality of cushioning that is great for running shoes, there are plenty of innovations invented by brands. But at the same time, there are also a lot of trivial things that do not create emotion. Fifteen years ago, an Exalight (Reebok), or even earlier with the first Nike bubble soles were launched, or Adidas’ torsion systems, all these innovations were visible, they were part of the aesthetics. I find it unfortunate that today the comfort and cushioning systems are so well integrated that they are hidden. What I like is having beautiful shoes on the feet, more than the cushioning in itself. So I wait for it to surprise me, but always in a fair balance between technical improvement and aesthetic emotion. “
Post written by Noémie Balmat, Founding editor-in-chief
Interested in the future of fashion through innovation, Noémie Balmat has a valuable four-year experience in international advertising agencies and works with brands as a FashionTech consultant. She launched Clausette.cc in November 2014 to gather inspiring projects linking fashion & innovation in one place. Sensitive to the technological and scientific evolutions, Noémie often speaks at international events, such as the Hyères International Fashion Festival.