After running an outdoor retailer in Calgary, Canada, Jamie Clarke is bringing his own high-tech outerwear directly to web shoppers and launching Live Out There.
For Clarke, who has twice climbed Mount Everest and goes by co-founder and adventurer, the establishment outerwear companies do some good work, but are still relying on an outdated wholesale/retail model.
“The gear that’s being made is good stuff,” he said, pointing specifically to Patagonia and North Face. “The problem is the distribution they’re stuck in is an antiquated distribution model. The thing that we’re trying to do out of the gate is not innovate on the gear, it’s to innovate on the distribution.” (Once Live Out There gets rolling, Clarke expects to bring a lifetime of climbing experience to bear on the product and he said he’s overflowing with ideas).
Clarke said big brands get too much of a markup in the retail process and noted that, as a retailer, he asked himself, “Are we going to be a victim of this, or are we actually going to be a player?”
He decided on the latter.
And to try to be a player, Live Out There is borrowing Everlane’s model of radical transparency and applying it to outerwear.
“I like the idea of transparency,” Clarke said. “What is the industry hiding? Why don’t big brands share the information about their manufacturing cost?”
Live Out There is having its products made at a factory in China and will detail its own product costs on its web site. For instance, the brand’s Tempest down parka for women, which will sell for 299.99 Canadian dollars, costs the company 112 Canadian dollars to make.
Clarke, who has financial backers, is projecting first-year sales of $5 million as he taps into and then expands from his base of loyal followers.
The brand is also part of a larger mission.
“People who are active outside are healthier, happier and more creative,” Clarke said. “I believe we have a responsibility. This is a mission for our whole company: to get people outside. Is this a lot of Kumbaya? Is this a lot of tree hugging? It is. I’m not doing this because it’s good business, it’s the right business.”
It’s also one he’s staking his life on, literally.
“I’m going to use this gear on our next Himalayan expedition,” Clark said. “Lives are going to depend on it, so we better make it good.”