Silk Boxers, in the 80s. The idea was to find a more seductive equivalent to women’s lingerie for men. The result was not as expected: after 5 hours of dancing at the disco and with the tight jeans of the time… The main idea was to be able to show them off with a date, but obviously after a night out the effect was not as expected. The surprise came when El Corte Ingles ordered us a few thousand RED color for its Christmas season sale on New Year’s Eve.
In the past, waterproof golf jackets were made of a nylon fabric that was very noisy during the swing (when players hit the ball), and distracted players. Realizing this, at Van Green we devised a way to put the part of the Gore-tex membrane inside the jacket, as a lining, but maintaining waterproofness and breathability. In this way, by putting a silky fabric on the outside, we eliminated the noise when executing the swing. This earned us contracts for the manufacture of players representing the REFG (Royal Spanish Golf Federation), EGA (European Golf Association), FCG (Catalan Golf Federation), etc. In international events like the Seve Trophy, the Continental Europe team wore our silent jackets, with players like Jose Maria Olazábal, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Thomas Bjørn, etc.
Van Green opted for women when the golf market was dominated by 80% men. Our theory was very clear: in that decade the majority of golfers were men, but women bought 7 times more shoes than men, and sometimes they were also the ones who bought shoes for their husbands. Identifying this female target as the key, prompted us to make a very innovative shoe, extremely comfortable and with a clear commitment to design, something that was underdeveloped at that time. This bet by Van Green won their trust, and later men’s.
Although the world of Golf may seem very conservative, we found that there is a certain more elite audience that wanted very unique and extravagant shoes that would make them stand out from the other players. We decided to make golf shoes with synthetic crocodile and snake skins. We did not want to use original skins, for reasons of awareness and respect for animals, but we did want to offer this segment the point of glamor and daring that they requested and which they enthusiastically welcomed.
Maybe not for other sports, but for golf it was an excellent idea. On the transparent soles we could print images of the best golf courses in the world, or motifs such as palm trees, trees… In the swing movement, the heel of the rear foot is raised due to the effect of hip rotation, so that at the end of the swing hit, the sole is fully visible to the audience around the player. It was a hallmark never surpassed, and it was only visible at that moment in the game, so under normal conditions the elegance of the shoe was still intact, causing a very interesting surprise effect.
Who would think of making pants out of the fabric of sneakers? That was what we thought when we came up with the idea of incorporating the fabric of the Kelme trainers into our innovative trial pants, made of Ketten fabric, completely run-resistant, even with total tears in the fabric. With this technology that until then had only been used in shoes, we made sure that our pants were practically indestructible.
Using the run-resistant fabric in Ketten, forced us to put a side elastic, with the particularity that it had to be elastic in width and not in length like conventional rubber bands. Additionally, we wanted that such rubber carried our logo woven in rubber threads of different colors. After dozens of searches (at a time when Google did not exist yet), we met an inventor, Joan Rojas (♰ 1946-2018, in our memory forever) who explained that he was developing a solution to protect himself from the cold, sun and wind, seamless and easily sublimated with different logos. Although we did not know it at the time, after a few months the now famous Buff appeared, the eternal invention of Joan Rojas. He managed to make us the side rubber that we would incorporate into our pants.
At Van Green we listen to champions and also to their backpackers. In 1993, when Tommy Ahvala and Jordi Tarrés were competing for the World Cup, their two backpackers had the same problem: how to carry two 1.5-liter PET bottles, one with water and the other with gasoline, so that they could be removed quickly and with the offset weight. Van green made specific backpacks for them, with two custom compartments on each side for this need. It could not be in a different way, each one with its own colors and sponsors.
At the La Moraleja golf fair in 1996 we placed a waterproof and breathable fabric and filled it in a container with water, then we injected air with an aquarium pump at the bottom, and the water bubbles came out through the filled fabric of water. It was a very original way of explaining how Gore Tex works in a visual and easy way to understand.
Oddly enough, they have many similarities, especially since in both you compete against yourself and therefore they are very mental disciplines. In addition, the two sports take place on a route of 18 zones/holes, and require a lot of self-knowledge and a reflective capacity to decide how to approach the zone/hole based on many variables. Starting from the same physical conditions and technical aptitudes, the result can be disastrous if bad decisions are made or too many risks are taken. A great example of this similarity is that the inimitable Martin Lampkin was a great Trial world champion and also an extraordinary golf player.
No. So far, never. And we’ve had occasions… At the beginning of launching the new golf collection, we visited more than 100 courses in Andalusia in 15 days, and we didn’t sell a single pair of socks. A complete disaster. But we also have reason to trust our tenacity; For example, we were obsessed with the Valderrama Golf Club, the most prestigious in Europe and one of the best in the world. The security guard at the entrance wouldn’t let us in, so we jumped over the fence and “sneaked in” to be able to enter the Club store to sell. After 8 attempts over more than 4 years, we managed to sell our shoes and textiles there for this exclusive club.
Waterproof and breathable paintball suits. The client’s condition was that the product should receive the shots from the paintballs without staining the clothing of the players, under our suits. We passed the test satisfactorily in a test in Andorra, receiving more than 50 shots at 20 meters away (it was the condition to approve our suits). We got the order, and also 50 bruises as a gift for a few weeks. In those suits, the pilot Carlos Mas, the adventurer Alvaro Bultó, and Eva Cobo, among others, could have been shot.
In order to expand our market in the US, and knowing the little knowledge they have of our territory there, we looked for some world-renowned national work so that they could locate our brand. We projected a video of Don Quixote playing Golf, with Sancho Panza as Caddy, at our Stand in Orlando, with Spanish guitar music by Paco de Lucía. The stand at that fair was a real success that allowed us to create a memorable memory and make Spanish footwear known in the United States.
Already committed to sustainability in 1997, when few talked about it, we made a collection with the sustainable Lyocell fabric, 100% biodegradable and compostable, and Naomi Campbell was our brand image for all garments made with that fabric.
At our Stand at the 1998 Munich Fair, one of our greatest joys was finding a distributor for our products in Iceland. Our joy did not last long when we discovered that in Iceland you can play golf for three months in summer and little more, as the resto f hte year is covered in snow. The truth is that the orders in this country were never as expected, so we already saw that they play but little.
We made one of the most famous promotions of our golf jackets with the Water Polo champions of the Atlanta 96 games: Jesús Rollán (♰ 1968-2006) the best water polo goalkeeper in history, and one of the best people who We have met, Pedro Garcia Aguado (Toto), now famous presenter of the television program Hermano Mayor, and Sergi Pedrerol, among others. It was a spectacular campaign, due to the revolutionary nature of the idea and the emotional component that the Olympic spirit has for all athletes. What better place to demonstrate the waterproofing of our jackets than inside a Water Polo pool with the brand new Olympic gold winners? Decontextualizing products from their natural habitat is another way of expressing how much we like to get out of our comfort zone.
We had the opportunity to create the Prada Mexico collection with our designs, materials and ideas, and it was a luxury to be able to collaborate with an emblematic fashion brand like Prada. The only difference was the price!
We have been ruined twice, and that made us learn from our mistakes. Success stories are told more than failure stories, but one does not exist without the other and all are valuable lessons that has lead us to where we are today. I have never thought that life is linear: there are curves, straight lines, ups and downs, so I understand business in the same way, and each stage serves to face the next one with more experience. I wouldn’t be what I am if everything had worked out for me the first time.