Mountain Designs At Outdoor Retailer In Salt Lake City




Mountain Designs CEO Talks New SeaWool Textue & Active Apparel For The Outdoors At Outdoor Retailer In Salt Lake City

Hanging out on the Australia Beach in Mountain Designs apparel. [Courtesy: Mountain Designs]

The essence of outdoor apparel is simply that: a form of clothing that can stand up to the elements. Mountain Designs, established by Steve White, a pioneering mountain climber from the 70s, takes the lessons learned on the edge of peaks and combines with a balance of sustainability and form. Caroline Machado Campus who has been with the company for over 10 years and was a customer before, became the CEO out of the product division. She sat down with The Buzz at Outdoor Retailer to discuss wearability, comfort, thinking outside the box and the usability of oyster shells.

The Buzz: What got you first interested in the outdoors from your perspective?

Caroline Machado Campos: I've always been interested in the outdoors. Love traveling. Love the mountains. Love hiking. Love the water. My family has been associated with the company since 2000 and long before that we were customers.  I knew Rick White, the founder, and we had the opportunity to purchase the company in 2000. My first role was in 2004 and since then, I've done various roles within the retail stores as well as design.

The Buzz: What's the most important thing to know about Mountain Design in terms of active wear because you can do it for kids, adults, adventurers. Can you talk about the different ways you have to look at it in terms of the product variation?

CMC: Well at Mountain Designs, we provide products for as soon as you step outside of the door to on top of the mountain. We really cover a wide range of bases and not just clothing. Actually our first product was sleeping bags and from that point in the 70s, we've continued on to be the first brand to bring Gore-Tex to Australia in 1977. So we've had a really long history with rainwear as well and have continued to innovate.

The Buzz: Can you talk about innovation and what it takes because the technology keeps changing, even in clothing.

CMC: We like to think of innovation as doing things differently and to be a leader, not a follower.  I've been in the CEO position for the last two and half years but I'm also leading the product innovation team and I think we've really got a great opportunity to present our brand in the US. We're different. I feel like the US market is saturated with really successful mainstream brands but for us being a little bit different and having something unique to bring to the market, I feel like it's the right time for us.

The Buzz: Can you talk about that with specifically mentioning one or two products?

CMC: We've got the reclaim range [clothing] which is a blended organic cotton but certified and recycled. We have a beautiful Australian Merino. We have a certified range of travel wear in stripes and very travel friendly pieces. We've also brought to market a range of Seawool shirts, which is made from a blend of recycled oyster shells and PET bottles.

Out for a walk in Mountain Designs apparel. [Courtesy: Mountain Designs]
CEO Caroline Machado Campus at their Outdoor Retailer booth. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]
Fishing on the water in Mountain Designs apparel. [Courtesy: Mountain Designs]

The Buzz: Could you talk about working outside the box in that manner of thinking?

CMC: Our adventurous team is the heart and soul of our brand. And we product test. And we travel. And we search.

The Buzz: And do you have a story or two that you could relate? Because I love that. When a CEO gets her hands dirty, and is on the ground with people. Lots of CEOs don't do that.

CMC: My background's in fashion design and textiles, so I'm very much involved in product. I mean, we meet on a daily basis, even though now I'm managing the over-arching business, the products are still my passion.

The Buzz: Growing up, did you have a focal point? I know your family came into this. But you knew the founder? What was his approach?

CMC: I think since the very beginning, Rick was focused on providing fellow Australians with amazing innovative products. To embark on adventures like he himself did, which is why from since the beginning, we've sponsored and outfitted so many different World First expeditions. Rick White was a Australian mountaineer. For example, we have a long connection with the US, because in 1973, he summitted El Cap in Yosemite. And since that point, he has had connection with testing packs and was really involved with the US scene early on. He actually imported equipment products [from here], and sold it through our first stores in Australia. He attempted to summer on Fits Row in Patagonia. He calls that “the one that got away”, which is where our company logo came from. You can see the pig from Fits Row.

The Buzz: Can you talk about the evolution of Mountain Design and where you see it going because it's both honoring that and bringing it forward.

CMC: We like to have fun. We also like to create our own art.  Failure not an option is pretty much the ethos of our brand (laughing) in a way. The MDA currently talks about sustainability of our products and that we really just want to protect the planet that we love. That's why we do what we do. We're pretty grassroots in that way.

Tim Wassberg

A graduate of New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts with degrees in Film/TV Production & Film Criticism, Tim has written for magazines such as Moviemaker, Moving Pictures, Conde Nast Traveler UK and Casino Player. He enjoys traveling and distinct craft beers among other things.

Mountain Designs

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Mountain Designs, which provides a wide range of outdoor clothing, footwear, backpacks, sleeping bags and tents. Shop online or in-store across Australia. New retail possibilities coming soon to the United States Of America!

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