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n it’s infancy, the snowboard industry had just a few brands pushing nearly all consumer product. Now, decades later, everyone is trying to get their hands on the once-core fringe market. And while new companies are popping up like zits on a tween, many of the brands are as original as bagged cereals on the bottom shelf of the breakfast isle. However, every once in a while, something real comes along that changes minds, forges trends and refreshingly, doesn’t suck. That something is Holden, and for over a decade it has been forcing the industry to pay attention.

lanc. “Eco-consciousness is not a business choice, it’s a personal choice. If we were doing this just to maximize profits, we would not be doing anything eco-conscious—it’s that simple.” While there is always something to be said about getting applauded for innovation, LeBlanc is much more focused on producing quality product. “We sort of stepped off of applying for awards since those first ones,” says LeBlanc. “It is much more rewarding to see people get psyched on our product because of the quality, fit and style. That is something that translates to me as an accolade.”

In the early 2000’s Mikey LeBlanc was at the top of his game, and had successfully carved his place in the snowboard industry like a hockey mask dawning psycho on prom night. But unlike the lumbering slasher’s insatiable desire to plant his rusty machete into degenerate partygoers, LeBlanc was not satisfied with simply continuing to drop hammers for a living. Years ago, he had a pro model from Ride Snowboards, featuring a logo of the Fighting Irish. That logo has taken on a new meaning as he transitioned into a bonafide businessman. Along with his continuation of bone-splintering drops in the city, LeBlanc set his sights on conquering fashionable technical garments. “A lot of companies were doing bad Arcterix copies, but with trash bag type fits—so I was really interested in making technical outerwear that looks more like street wear,” LeBlanc notes. As a seasoned pro growing tired of getting boxes of wearable neon photocopies, Leblanc got serious about his idea to bring high fashion to the snowboard world. After pitching the idea of forming an offshoot brand under a slew of current outerwear brands, and getting weary of the word “no,” it was time for him to take things into his own hands. He later partnered up with pro skateboarder Chris Miller and designer savant Scott Zergebel— then, under the umbrella of Planet Earth, Holden was born in 2002.

Nowadays, it is difficult to find a snowboard-oriented brand that has not had a “green line” of products or some form of eco-responsible initiative. Some companies genuinely strive to make a difference, some are in it for the attention—but Holden never saw any other option. To LeBlanc and Zergebel, running a considered business is a direct result of feeling the responsibility of living consciously in all aspects of their lives, not a marketing tool. From a young age, they both cared about their surroundings, and environment and how they treated it. The result is a company that collectively pioneered eco-responsibility from concept to consumer, and is continuously paving the way for droves of other brands to follow suit. Many businesses would see it as a copycat movement. However, Holden gladly shares their knowledge with other companies in the hope that more will operate their business with eco-consciousness.

Leveraging years of shred experience, LeBlanc didn’t break into the industry shooting blind. He knew what the industry had, what it lacked and ultimately, where Holden could nestle their way into the aggressive industry. “It helped being out riding, and being with other riders all the time—watching and listening,” LeBlanc recalls. Even from day one, he was very conscious of how Holden would present itself. Never willing to sacrifice quality for convenience or responsibility for price, the small brand became a significant thorn in the sides of established and typically dominant brands. “Our goal from the beginning was to make clothing for people who want to lead happier, healthier lives, and I feel like we have stayed true to that,” says LeBlanc. Simply keeping course helped Holden snatch up some early accolades, including an award from the Worth Global Style Network for revolutionizing eco-friendly garments with the world’s first technical jacket made of laminated natural fiber fabric. But LeBlanc and Holden don’t see themselves “as an environmental brand, but rather a considered brand.” It is how Holden has always been, and how it will stay, explains LeB-

Part of what makes the niche company so original is that instead of trying to predict trends and tossing new prints on last year’s jacket, they take their time, and they cut the clutter—oh, they also get a lot of ideas from mom and dad’s closet among an array of other places. “Everyone gets design concepts and ideas from other sources. We do as well, but we are into more classic designs and materials that stand the test of time, while still maintaining technical aspects that can hold up to weather” LeBlanc says. The result is a brand that has broken the confines of the snowboard industry, is making big moves in street wear and is getting competitors in multiple industries following their lead. “We have carried Holden since the beginning, because of their style, function, low-key logos and Mikey,” says Cal Egbert, owner at Milosport board shop. “They are cool, different, stylish and true to snowboarding. They are blazing the trail.” In Holden’s first years, bright and flashy outerwear was starting to turn snowboarders into what looked like giant sleeves of Starburst throwing backside 9’s in the park. LeBlanc’s reputation gave Holden an audience in the industry, but their eclectic styles and textures went against just about every other brand, which put it on everyone’s radar almost immediately, according to Egbert. “They hit at the right time with the fashion emphasis hitting snowboarding,” notes Egbert. “They have been, and are still in the drivers seat on trending, and just being cool dudes.” To Egbert, Holden is an easy choice. LeBlanc has been riding for Milo for longer than most pros have been alive.

Arkade October 2013  

ISSUE #8.1 - Chris Grenier, Knut Eliassen, Mikey LeBlanc, Cale Zima, Dave Faircloth, Madison Blackley, Mia Lambson, Snowbird, Blindside

Arkade October 2013  

ISSUE #8.1 - Chris Grenier, Knut Eliassen, Mikey LeBlanc, Cale Zima, Dave Faircloth, Madison Blackley, Mia Lambson, Snowbird, Blindside

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