When the extraordinary becomes everyday life
BY ANJA FAHS
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2017)
The highly qualified men of the “210th Rescue Squadron” headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska, are specialised in carrying out rescue operations and extreme salvages in the toughest, most remote and most hostile corners of the globe. These men are on constant standby to use their competencies and skills to save human lives. They’re also known under the abbreviation PJs – short for Parajumpers. In 2006, after an encounter with a “PJ” in a bar in Anchorage, fashion designer Massimo Rossetti was inspired to create his “Masterpieces”, and to establish, together with the Italian company Ape S.p.A., the Parajumpers brand.
But not only professional rescue workers make the extraordinary happen in extreme areas during their everyday life, but also normal people. Like Leighan Falley, one of the few female Bush pilots in Alaska. In Talkeetna, Denali National Park, approximately 115 miles north of Anchorage, Falley has been bringing passengers and goods to areas of the country that are only accessible by air for more than 13 years.
Parajumpers dedicates their “Parajumpers Stories” to such exceptional people. We learn from Cristina Paulon, Parajumper's Sales and Marketing Director, why her sturdy jackets are made for Alaska’s pilots as well as for designers in New York.
What makes Parajumpers outerwear so extremely innovative?
Being so independent from fashion trends and autonomous in the way we create our product and our style, we are always working to build products that last over the years rather than seasonal products.
Was Parajumpers inspired by old traditional outerwear brands when it was founded in 2006?
Massimo Rossetti, our creative director, has a strong background and a great knowledge of the world of outerwear. That reaches from the design of great pieces to the research of vintage coats from the military and American sportswear tradition. But the key aesthetic elements of the Parajumpers brand came from a meeting with a serving member of the 210th Rescue Squadron, the Parajumpers, in an ill-famed bar in Anchorage, Alaska. This provided inspiration for Massimo’s latest creation.
What strategy are you pursuing with the brand? Has this changed over the years?
The strategy of the brand has always been the same since the very beginning: aiming at making products that could last 20 years, both from a point of view of style and of physical durability. Street fashion and high style are a consequence of our choices of positioning, which is, above anything else, making products that are functional, durable and great for the outdoors in general.
Is there a certain Parajumpers key piece that became a fashion must-have and which made the brand so popular and successful?
Yes, it is our core collection, the “Masterpieces”. It is the part of the collection that carries the DNA and the identity of Parajumpers in the best way. Strong details, functional aspects and great constructions are all embodied in these great pieces named “Gobi” and “Right Hand” for men and “Gobi” and “Long Bear” for ladies.
Who sets trends in fashion today?
People and brands with a strong identity, who often are not bloggers or celebrities, but those who inspire bloggers and celebrities. We like to set our own trends.
When we look at your testimonials, we see pretty normal people facing their everyday challenges. What is the strategy of Parajumpers Stories?
Our project “Stories” tells the story of those people who best embody the spirit and the identity of Parajumpers: ordinary people who in our opinion have extraordinary lives because of the place where they live, the job they do, or the motivation and inspiration that moves them. The world is full of these great stories to tell, which nowadays find little space in the media, especially because creativity and marketing is often used with the single goal of improving sales rather than telling your real story. Telling the Parajumpers’ story through more ordinary and accessible celebrities would not resonate well with our brand identity. These are the people that we like to have as our brand testimonials because they have the lifestyle that we like to promote and share as an inspiration to better living.
Your Stories feature a bush pilot from Alaska, a kayak builder and a horse breeder from Island. How do you choose these personalities?
We look for them, we search the web, we read, sometimes we also get asked to collaborate. We have been receiving a lot of spontaneous applications which make us so extremely happy and proud of our project.
What kind of person would you love to present next?
You will find out very soon. Stay tuned!
What distinguishes good taste from style?
A strong identity.
Parkas with fur trimmed hoods or fur lining have become very popular in recent years. Due to cheap fur imports from China, this does not always go undisputed. How do you deal with this topic?
Our concern with regards to the ethics behind farm-bred fur has brought us to propose Finnraccoon for our women's styles and North American coyote for men. Fur breeding regulations in the EU are the strictest in the world. The farm certification programme provides added assurances since, in order to be awarded the certificate, a fur farm must exceed the current legal requirements. An important factor is the transparency of all operations. The Finnish Fur Breeders' Association and its stakeholders developed the certification criteria to cover the most important sectors of various farm operations. The Saga Furs trademark, exclusively used by the Finnish Fur Sales auction house, includes pelt traceability up to the production farm. All Saga Furs range pelts are also part of the international Origin Assured programme. North America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources including many species of wildlife. Trapping is highly regulated in North America to ensure long-term conservation of furbearer populations, and trappers also use methods that meet the highest animal welfare standards in the world. The Canadian Trap Certification Protocol uses parameters of trap efficiency, humaneness and safety to approve traps for use in Canadian trapping and furbearer management programs. Trappers take only part of the surplus that nature produces each year. Endangered species are never used. Our coyote furs are supplied by Nafa Furs and are Origin Assured.
Please tell us about your “Stop Fake” activities. Are faked products a big problem for Parajumpers as well?
Despite Parajumpers being a relatively young brand, there are too many fake products that are being sold on the market. Parajumpers is on the front line in the battle to defend the authenticity of the brand and its identity, and, most importantly, to protect the consumer. In fact, counterfeit products are not only illegal, but can be dangerous for people wearing them, because of non-sanitised down, fabrics that can be coloured with toxic substances, and, generally speaking, jackets that don't offer the right protection from cold weather. Additionally, the production of counterfeit goods often supports illegal activities such as child labour, unsafe working conditions and organised crime.
Parajumpers offers customers an authenticity programme. Is this part of your customer loyalty programme?
Yes, of course. Starting from the Fall/Winter 2017 collection, Parajumpers uses Certilogo technology to offer customers the possibility of verifying the authenticity of their products. You just have to enter the 12-digit Certilogo code on the website or scan the QR Code with your mobile phone. Both the Certilogo code and QR code are found on the authenticity label sewn inside the garment. We also work with several law firms and international organisations in order to stop or prevent production and distribution of counterfeit products. We also implement local initiatives to improve the knowledge on the matter and help customs representatives to recognise the counterfeits. This is a very long process and a continuous battle, however we are not planning to give up and are already having significant success.
Cristina Paulon was born in Segusino in Italy. She studied International Economics and Marketing Management in Milan and worked for several years for a Milan consulting company in London, New York and Florida before joining the family business Ape & Partners in 2011, where she is now Sales and Marketing Director.
Picture credit © Parajumpers photographic team