686 GLCR Project

words: Mary Walsh

Last month, veritable outerwear brand 686 announced a unique opportunity for winter adventurers, powder hounds, explorers, mountain town inhabitants, weekend warriors, and anyone who enjoys getting outdoors when the temperature drops. It is called The GLCR Project and it aims to bring those who love being outdoors into the fold to contribute directly into the development of 686 products. To this end, 686 has issued an open call for applications to be a part of this new 686 power team, Brent Sandor and Patrick McCarthy gave us a few minutes of their time to provide the low down on this unique brand initiative.

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Matt Belzile. photo: Mike Yoshida

Sammy Luebke

Sammy Luebke. photo: Ben Gavelda

First off, let’s discuss the GLCR line a little bit. How long has it been a part of the 686 line and how did it originally come into existence?

Brent Sandor: The GLCR Collection of technical apparel is going on its third season. Some of the styles were born from the previous Plexus collection, but GLCR came into existence as we reimagined the brand and collections in 2014 and any old styles that we liked were redesigned. Each year, we continue to add new styles and technologies. The collection is inspired by intelligent design and minimalism, putting only the perfect features, fabrics and style lines where they are needed for functionality and omitting all the chatter. GLCR stands for Glacier, as in way out on a glacier or Glacier, Washington, where we are lucky enough to have the McCarthy Cabin, right by Mt. Baker, one of the toughest testing grounds in the world for outerwear.

Pat McCarthy: Living in the Northwest and staying a lot in Glacier when riding Mt. Baker, I began to realize this area is just about the best proving ground in the world to test outerwear. Being more of a backcountry-style Northwest rider, I would always ride the most technical features that 686 came out with year-after-year and give my input with the rest of the team. The GLCR collection has most technical features, and is the most waterproof and breathable gear that exists for us here at 686.

BS: Keeping with the inspiration of minimalism, we removed all the vowels in the word and added just a small red circle for the logo. If 686 is represented by a red square, GLCR is represented by a red circle.

Over the past few seasons, 686 has amplified the streetwear and fashion savvy influence applied to technical pieces, resulting in really sick looking jackets, pants, and accessories. Highly technical gear has not always been the most aesthetic—how do you marry the tech and functional aspects of the GLCR line with the 'look good, feel good' ethos that individuals crave?

PM: I think the most important concept with GLCR is simplicity meets functionality. In the collection there are clean lines and solid color blocking, but also all the features and value you have come to expect from 686. There are other parts in the line where we can get more creative and do more progressive styling, too. When it comes to the GLCR line we want to make sure each piece is tested, tried and true by the team. Find ways to cut down the product to make it the most waterproof, bomber, lightweight it can be, so that the rider feels that he has a technical garnet on but does not look like a backcountry kook.

BS: I think there has always been some form of aesthetics to technical pieces, but maybe not as slick and futuristic as the current technical outerwear trends. We like to look at concept cars, progressive footwear and modern architecture and objects to inspire the designs of GLCR. For us, everything starts from the purpose of the garment. Once we know ‘why’ we are creating each piece then the form is imagined. Every style line, seam and feature in our GLCR garments lends to the form and the function; there isn’t a bunch of decorative ‘stuff’ going on with the garments. In the end, we think this progressive modernistic design is something that the active consumer is gravitating towards as well.

Let’s talk a little about the 686 pro team. The riders are very involved in creation, testing, and affecting the 686 outerwear that they wear and that is sold in shops. Can you provide a little insight into the riders and this process?

PM: We love working with our team closely, together with 686 Founder Michael Akira West, and the designers to make our outerwear as functional as possible. For example, combining Forest Bailey’s creativity with the design team, we can make cutting edge apparel that also has a team-driven aesthetic that is ahead of the trends we already see. Utilizing riders like Sammy Luebke and Matt Belzile who are out daily hammering on there gear as hard as possible makes us feel that ‘if it works for them, it will work for the consumer.’

BS: We take the constant feedback from the team, explorers and off the grid livers like Sean and Mollie Busby and others and add it into every new cycle of designs. It’s truly a joy to work with some of the most talented mountain men and women in the world on product and I think the results are showing.

PM: The GLCR project will build on this existing process and give a new voice to the development of our outerwear program.

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Matt Belzile. photo: Mike Yoshida

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Matt Wainhouse. photo: Mike Yoshida

Jamie Anderson

Pat McCarthy. photo: Brad Andrew

The GLCR Project just launched as a one-of-a-kind, inclusive effort that expands the existing team feedback and design process. What exactly is this new endeavor?

BS: The GLCR Project is a crowd-sourced approach to marketing. We feel that there is a lot of talent out there that just may not have ever had the connections or chance to be a part of something bigger. Through the GLCR Project, we provide access to anyone and everyone on the planet who wants to be a part of 686. We are really excited to see what kind of applications come in.

When and how did you guys come up with it?

BS: We came up with the concept last winter. Mike West continues to preach becoming closer to our end consumer. McCarthy and myself were really looking at ways to really be a brand ‘of the people’ and the answer seemed so simple: let’s just involve the consumer directly. We have employed public surveys previously and have gotten great responses and ideas, so this seemed like such a natural progression. Bring the brand to people and provide equal access to each and every athlete and adventurer.

PM: We appreciate every person who supports 686 and this is a way of including them. Allowing our consumer to have some mental and physical value in what 686 comes out with. I love the fact that anyone has an equal opportunity to be involved.

The GLCR Project also expands into other sports, including climbing and trail running. This is a dip into new arenas for 686 and with the growing visibility (often via social media) of snowboarders who are constantly camping, biking, running, and exploring the outdoors in their free time, this seems to be an organic path. Can you elaborate on this new direction?

BS: Snowboarding will always be our roots, but there is so much more out there. We hope in the future to create products that bring the 686 aesthetic and ethos into new arenas and through the GLCR Project we hope to appoint new advocates in all of these areas. Purpose-driven outerwear and activewear will always be our core and we are excited to explore new boundaries.Winter 2017 will see the introduction of a few new pieces with new fits and properties that are not aimed at a ‘snowboarding first’ type of approach. We are looking at other seasons and products as well, with a new approach to the entire cycle, but right now all of that is too loose to really talk about. We will get there, but slowly and methodically in order to create iconic products and brand stability.

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Forest Bailey, collaborating on outerwear in the 686 office. photo: Erik Hoffman

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Matt Wainhouse. photo: Mike Yoshida

Forest Bailey 686

Forest. photo: Erik Hoffman

Holding an open call for people to get involved in The GLCR Project really opens up a lot of possibilities. What kind of crew are you hoping to create in the first edition of the program?

PM: We want to really roll into this with an open mind. We have some amazing top level big mountain and backcountry snowboarders that are giving us input already, guys like Luebke and Belzile who already weigh in on how to make the gear amazing. We want some additional opinions and new perspectives to see where we can take GLCR in the future.

BS: We are looking for a diverse crew, men and women from all parts of the world that not only do awesome things within their sport/lifestyle or on their adventures, but that also have the positive and unique human traits we look for in our team riders. Like I have said before, I know there are so many people out there who simply do not have access to the current sponsorship or brand involvement model that will become an asset to our brand.

Can you provide a little more detail on what the role of these individuals will be specifically?

BS: The GLCR Project advocates will be involved in the feedback loop, ideation and content creation. They will be testing new technologies and fits, providing feedback on colors, prints, etc., as well as hopefully pitching some new ideas into the brand. We also will be working with this crew to create content showing how 686 GLCR technical apparel can perform out in the elements in a myriad of activities.

PM: Basically they will be provided our GLCR line products for the activities they love to do. Their give feedback will for sure help us make the products more valuable. Hopefully it will also give them some mental equity into what we are creating and an additional platform to house the passion they have for the outdoors.

How will The GLCR Project crew interact with existing 686 pro team snowboarders?

BS: That’s a great question. The ultimate goal would be to get some adventures together with both crews somewhere. We really don’t know where and when until we see what kind of people apply and who we ultimately choose to be on The GLCR Project. But, I think it will be amazing to see the exchange of ideas and culture between everyone. We are all athletes and adventurers at the core and that is what binds us.

PM: The current team has done an amazing job helping us develop apparel for snowboarding so we look to use the new GLCR Advocates to take the collection into a new realm.

Forest Bailey 686

Matt Belzile. photo: Mike Yoshida

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Matt Belzile. photo: Mike Yoshida

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Matt Belzile. photo: Mike Yoshida

With the advent of Instagram, Snapchat, blogging, etc., how do you see a program like The GLCR Project fitting into the current state of opinion-abundant media and inclusivity?

PM: The GLCR Project will be an outlet for the advocates to voice their opinions on bettering product and also a platform to highlight the adventures and activities they are into. It’s important to show other activities that can be done while wearing the GLCR line, not just snowboarding and skiing.

BS: I think that social media and the GLCR Project have a lot in common, they both provide unprecedented access and an equal voice to every individual. These platforms provide the perfect prism in which to watch the GLCR Project. I hope that people follow the advocates we put on and get inspired to apply as well. Anyone can be a part of this, that’s the best thing!

And finally, for people who may not directly be in The GLCR Project, how can they follow along in what the crew does throughout the year?

BS: We will be creating social media platforms for the GLCR Project as well as including our advocates’ adventures and test sessions on our blog throughout the year. We will also announce all of the GLCR Project advocates in December and then people can follow them and see what they are all about.

PM: The Instagram handle will be @686_glcr. This is where the posts will be going down. We will also be highlighting some of the adventure experiences on @686 as well.

Want to be a part of The GLCR Project? Apply at 686.com/glcr.