From its humble roots as a small French business creating underwear for surfers, Pull-In has now become an international beachwear brand worn by the elite of the surfing world. And the popularity of the clothing – made for surfers by surfers – looks set to keep on growing…
Seven years ago, French electrical engineer Emmanuel Lohéac decided to abandon his day job to do something more closely linked to his love for surfing. After much work and a move from Paris to Hossegor, Lohéac created the Pull-In brand and opened a shop in 2004 to sell his unique brand of underwear and beachwear.
Three years on, and Lohéac now boasts Pull-In stores in both Miami and New York, with famous fans from Kelly Slater to David Beckam. Next, creator Emmanuel and marketing manager Guillaume Baché plan to conquer the rest of Europe. We catch up with Guillaume to find out what’s in store for 2008…
– Why did you decide to create the Pull-In brand?
In the beginning, we planned to appeal to people who were following the trend for super-low waisted trousers, so this meant everybody linked to riding, from skateboarders and snowboarders to surfers. As the trend spread to a wider group of hip people, we found ourselves being popular with both surf lovers and fashion lovers.
– Kelly Slater recently posed on the cover of a magazine displaying your brand. That must have been a great moment?
Yeah, I think riders like Pull-In because the spirit of the brand is quite special. The whole Pull-In team are surfers or snowboarders and skaters so we know how to develop loyalty with this kind of clientele. The success has been word of mouth, but also thanks to an important presence at surf events, an explosive hard-working pull-in team and our choice of advertising campaigns.
We have a fresh new product that offers quality and comfort. Most people wearing Pull-In stick with it because the brand works for them, whether they’re into wakeboarding, skiing or bmx… We spend all day at our desks wearing Pull-In too, because the more comfy we are in our underpants, the better we work!
-Seven years has passed since you created the brand, have you already reached the goals that you set?
Our goals rise day after day. In the beginning, we did not expect to arrive where we are today, but our ambitions today have no limits! Emmanuel Lohéac, the creator of the brand, started this story in 2000 in his garden with three of his friends and three Euros in his poket. Today, he has reached a turnover of nearly 6.5 million Euros, and 95% of it is made in France, so you can imagine the potential that we have!
-When you started, did you think that the brand had the potential to conquer the US market?
Getting well-known in the US has always been a dream for us! Very gradually we rose through the ranks of the business without thinking too much about what was happening. We have now proved what we are capable of in our own territory, so we’re thinking that 2008 is going to be a real turning point for the brand as we conquer other countries too.
-Is the opening of two Pull-In shops on the West Coast of US where you’ll stop?
Oh no! It hasn’t satisfied us at all! It’s just the beginning of a new adventure we hope! We expect to open more of our own independent shops but also to establish concessions in the larger stores. For us, it is very media-friendly to say that we have an American address in NYC in the heart of Soho – that makes us far more credible internationally.
-What are your ambitions today?
To develop exports, open shops with our own name and keep on developing loyalty with our clients.
– Are you planning any more stores in Europe?
That’s been on our mind for a long time but we need to figure out the budgets first! We like to take time to do things to ensure they will be successful. We realise that Pull-In is now a European brand, rather than solely a French one, so it would be a really good move to open more shops in the EU.
To pick up your own special pair of Pull-In pants, head to their website.
Words: Elisa Routa