This month, I had the immense pleasure of experiencing the launch of Columbia's Tested Tough global brand platform in New York. The campaign is rooted in the company's Oregon headquarters, which allows for intense product testing in the Pacific Northwest. This new direction in the company's 77-year-old history is inspired by Chairperson Gert Boyle who, along with her son and current CEO Tim Boyle, has been evaluating Columbia products in the harshest conditions. Through social channels, magazine partnerships and "Directors of Toughness," Columbia is spreading the word about its Tested Tough goods that are suited to the elements and extreme weather.
The first day of the Tested Tough launch began with a walk along New York's High Line. As the tourist destination is set in the outdoors amid busy city streets and lush green beds, it provided a perfect space for the evaluation of Columbia's latest outerwear pieces. This included numerous Tested Tough pieces, such as the Women's Ventrailia Shoe , the Women's Luminescence Legging and the Women's Brilliant Reflection Spacedye Hoodie.
After the walk, we continued on to the Columbia and Sorel stores in the Meatpacking District. It was there that we got the chance to see the best of Columbia's approach to retail. Numerous displays revealed the brand's latest pieces with an innovative approach to showcasing. This included interactive mirrored mannequin designs that, in addition to featuring apparel and footwear, also changed according to weather conditions. This built on the Tested Tough campaign as it demonstrated how Columbia products can be used to combat tough environments.
At night, guests were invited to a surprise event at the beautiful Cedar Lake space. Despite New York's warm fall season, the entire space simulated a cold environment. This proved to be the optimal backdrop for several interactive exhibits. This included live product testing wherein dripping water was used to demonstrate the durability of Columbia's newest rain jackets.
Focus was also placed on the evident relationship between style and functionality. This came to the fore through a faux ski chair lift. Attendees were invited to try on new products such as the Heatzone 1000 Turbodown Hooded Jacket while at the lift. With various color pairings and styles available on site, different looks were put together based on individual preferences.
On the second day, exclusive interviews were held with Columbia spokespeople at the company's main showroom. The meetings centered on an incredibly impressive team, including President and CEO Bryan Timm, Vice President of Global Apparel Innovation and Design Michael Blackford and Chief Marketing Officer Stuart Redsun.
The showroom itself spoke to the authentic model that characterizes the Columbia brand. The entire space is simple and minimalist with wood floors and white walls lined with a range of apparel, accessories and footwear. There is no need to embellish the displayed items that, through an intense production process, exude durability.
While at the showroom, I had the privilege of learning more about the mechanics behind Columbia's innovative marketing and design divisions. It was both interesting and comforting to hear that the company is intent on staying true to its foundation. Since 1938, this has manifested itself through family ownership and a dedication to responsible, quality manufacturing. This legacy will continue with the Tested Tough stamp of approval that follows up on Gert Boyle's commitment to only the highest standards.
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