How It Started With The Founder.
It all started in 1976, Britain. Britain was facing economic downturn, frequent power cuts and soaring unemployment when a young man graduated from University and could not find permanent employment. He was Paul Goldstein. Paul found work in a ski shop for a short period, and later worked at the Italian ski resort of Sauze d'Oulx for a season.
The style and design of ski wear has come a long way since the 1940s. Wool was no longer a necessary material in the 50s & 60s, when ski wear manufacturers developed new & light synthetic fabrics that could keep warm. While working in Sauze d’Oulx, Paul got to know a skiwear brand owner and his interest in skiwear was formed. Being a skier himself, Paul wondered if one can improved on the current ski outfits, and foresaw a business opportunity in the ski market for stylish yet technical skiwear.
Armed with his ambition, ingenuity & little money, Paul travelled to the Far East to look for a willing partner to manufacture his skiwear designs.
A Partnership Formed In Hong Kong
Throughout the 1960s to 1970s, Hong Kong was the world’s leading manufacturing hub in clothing, toys, plastics, electronics and plastic flowers. Hong Kong was the production base of many overseas brand products. In Hong Kong, while looking for manufacturer, Paul was introduced to Mike Mui, a Hong Kong businessman in apparel manufacturing. Mike, who himself was an active sportsman, decided to support Paul in his venture by manufacturing his skiwear design, thereby making it possible for Paul to bring his dream to fruition. A beautiful business partnership was thus formed, spanning more than 2 decades.
With Mike Mui managing the manufacturing while Paul was responsible for creation, designs, sales and marketing, Paul’s skiwear business was launched in 1978 to huge success. His skiwear creations are waterproof, windproof, climate-proof, fashionable and tailored to fit. Unbeknownst to many, Paul was the first to introduce many technical innovations which later became standard features across the industry, such as the use of waterproof / ultra-breathable fabrics and the first skiwear brand to use Recco rescue system throughout its collection. He was also the first to extensively use fluorescent fabrics (taking it to the extreme) in his skiwear.
Paul recognized the importance of pockets. His motto “Pockets mean Profits¨ can be seen in the many pockets to be found on a ski jacket or pants of his creation. There were pockets for passport & wallet, pockets for lip balms, pockets for sun screen lotion, for keys, for sun glasses, etc. In other words, he believed that one should not ski without having adequate pockets to keep all the necessities.
Because of his passion & vision, Paul revolutionized how skiwear should be, and later applied these technical innovations to Eikowada, his snowboard clothing brand for Asia.
Rise of Snowboarding
Snowboarding was developed from skateboarding, sledding, surfing & skiing in the United States in the 1960s. The late 70s and throughout the 1980s saw many innovations made to the snowboards by Jake Burton & Tom Sims. And together with inventive marketing, awareness of snowboarding was high. However, snowboarding only gained international recognition in 1998 when it became an Olympic sport at the Nagano Winter Olympic. Since then, it is considered a cool and fun sport, especially among the youth, as reflected in the fancy street-culture style snowboarding apparel.
Creation of Eikowada
When snowboarding was introduced to Japan in 1990, Paul decided to create a brand for Japanese & Asian snowboarders. Thus in 1993, Eikowada was born.
Little was known of an interesting story behind the brand name Eikowada. When Paul had the idea to make snowboard clothing for the Asia market, he wanted the brand name to be different from the other brands that he had created. Since snowboarding was introduced to Japan and gaining an interest there, Paul decided that the brand name should be Japanese sounding. He finally decided on the name “Eikowada”. Besides, the initials “EW” represented the idea of “ East meeting West ” that symbolized the partnership of Mike & Paul, where Eastern tailoring meets Western designs and thoughts.
While skiwear adopted and used technology enhanced fabrics since 1960s, snowboard fashion on the other hand were a style that was a mix of grunge, punk and hip-hop. Snowboarding is freedom and self-expression as reflected in its apparel styles. The clothing was oversized and almost anything that one can wear on the street from jeans, sweatshirts and flannel, were worn in snowboarding during the 1980s to 1990s. It was not until after 1998 Nagano Olympics that the snowboard fashion style started using water-resistant fabrics as the core material in the design.
Eikowada debuted with 3 styles of snowboard jacket, each of unique design that can be worn on the snow slope and on the street. Ahead of the snowboard fashion trend, these Eikowada snowboard jackets were made of wind & water resistant fabrics.
By 1996, Eikowada had expanded its product lines beyond snowboard apparel to include ski jackets, ski pants, windbreakers and other outdoor performance apparels. Since Asia is the priority market, Eikowada’s product development, manufacturing and sales are located in Hong Kong to be closer to the market. In 1997, with the opening of the China market, Eikowada’s manufacturing facilities were relocated to China while its design, product development and sales operation remain in Hong Kong.
The years 1997 and 1998 were a period of retail setup and expansion. Eikowada retail presence can be found in several departmental stores across Hong Kong. These are: SOGO Departmental Store, WingOn Departmental Store, Sincere Departmental Store, Citistore, JUSCO and Seiyu Departmental Store. The first flagship store of Eikowada was also opened in Causeway Bay in 1998 at number 357 to 359 Hennessy Road.
Change of Ownership
Whilst the growth of Eikowada was steady in Asia, Paul’s skiwear business was a tremendous success in Europe with brands such as Nevica and Killy. In the year 2000, ownership of Eikowada was transferred to Mr Mike Mui, Paul’s long-term business partner in Hong Kong.
Eikowada Under New Leadership
Under the stewardship of Mike Mui, new innovations such as UV protection, breathable, quick dry and mosquito repellent fabrics for the summer outdoor activity apparels were introduced. In 2004, Eikowada was awarded with the license to manufacture performance apparel using Gore-Tex fabric.
The growing affluence of the middle-class and a lifestyle towards health and sports stimulated the demand for sports and related products. And in 2006, Eikowada added golfing apparel to its existing snow-sports and summer trail & hiking wear. By 2009, Eikowada’s retail presence in Hong Kong further expanded with a second flagship store at 538 Nathan Road.
Values of Eikowada
Simplicity, Quality, Innovate, Sincerity.
Eikowada creations are always simple and timeless. Eikowada apparels are simple in design yet calibrated to give a good fit.
Eikowada products are made for lasting quality using quality materials that are tested for comfort & usability.
Eikowada embraces new innovations and changes. Function first over form. Eikowada places technology as an important aspect of their creations.
Treat all stakeholders with sincerity, respect and integrity.
These are the values which can be seen in every stage of the Eikowada product creation process and business operations. A product will not be manufactured or launched in the market without being tried and tested. Since the early days, Mike has been trying on each newly developed Eikowada product to test its usability and comfortability. Till this day, Mike still plays an active role in the testing process by leading a team of “testers¨ of varying age groups & genders, to gather feedbacks and insights that contribute to the creation of better products.
Never Create A Product You Do Not Want To Use
“Never create a product you do not want to use”, “Play hard, work harder”, “Respect nature, work & people¨ and “Treat people right and success will come¨. These personal beliefs, frequently espouse by Mike, are the premise that propels the continued success of Eikowada the company and brand.