Extreme brand meets extreme technology and customers


In December of 1998, some partners and I saw that the leaders of the Action Sports Retail Business, which was then a $5 billion business, expressed both disdain and ignorance of the Internet and the possibilities technology offered to improve their businesses. Meetings with several top players in the business confirmed our impression. So we determined a market existed for a community based Website geared toward the ‘Y’ Generation (13-21 year-olds).


The target demographic coincidentally was weaned on computers and the Net, however, they were not effectively represented in the online marketplace. High-image companies selling apparel to this demographic were resistant to straying from their traditional and established distribution channels. The fact that those companies wouldn’t embrace the web gave Troublewear an advantage, offering a short, built-in competitive edge in order to create an apparel brand and sell it solely on the Internet. The primary task was building a brand - and web presence - that not only established the brand, but also provided a sense of community and belonging for the target market. The demographic was interested in apparel related to extreme sports, such as BMX, surfing, hang gliding, skateboarding, wake boarding, free climbing, mountain biking and snowboarding.


Trouble was the brand calling card- everyone understood it. A diverse and stylized set of graphics, with a strong visual attitude and event presence at X and Gravity Games cemented authenticity. The site was wired for sound, literally, and powered by the hottest scripts, software and databases. Winning ‘site of the day’ from Macromedia coupled with coverage in the New York Times, Yahoo, Seventeen Magazine and many relevant pubs aimed at this demographic ignited our efforts. We carefully crafted a guerilla marketing plan giving Troublewear the ground level credibility it needed to survive. Troublewear. com became a viral marketing success story before viral was coined. Even outside the target market we became the darlings of the business: Invision nominated us for site of the year in the e-commerce category – we finished second to WebVan, and beat out hundreds of others, including Nordstrom, Patagonia, Hoovers, The Street and Ashford.

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