The Resort Co was founded in 2018 with the mission to craft the perfect vacation wardrobe with a focus on high quality, slow production and usage of the best and most sustainable materials. The artisan principles and high-quality mindset permeates the brand. Inspired by Scandinavian aesthetics and the notion of a never-ending Summer, the idea is to design sustainable resort wear that last season after season. They handpick the best materials and producers in Europe and all products are handcrafted by skilled artisans working in small family owned factories dotted around Italy, Spain and Portugal. Focusing on quality ahead of mass-production, they make timeless high quality products and select recycled materials when they can.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Joakim Blom, Co-Founder of The Resort Co about the founding story of the brand which focusses on fashion for holidays. After leaving the world of consultancy, the co-founders self funded the brand and started out manufacturing handmade leather flip flops before moving on to polo shirts, swim shorts, espadrilles and sunglasses. Our host Peter Brooker and Joakim also talk about timeless fashion, the design process, the importance of comfort, and using sustainable materials.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. My name is Pete Brooker and today I'm going to be speaking to one of the cofounders of the resort co Joachim Balaam. And I'm going to put a little information from the website here which you can find by the way at the resort code.com Resort co was founded in 2018. With a mission to craft the perfect vacation wardrobe with a focus on high quality, slow production and usage of the best and most sustainable materials. The artisan principles and high quality mindset permeates the brand inspired by Scandinavian aesthetics and the notion of a never ending summer. Doesn't that sound nice? The idea is to design sustainable resort where that last season after season we handpick as in they handpick the best materials, and producers in Europe for every product okay? So really taken by this brand loved all of the polos on the site, the sunglasses look terrific. And we get into some flip flop talk and and what makes a great flip flop and why flip flops are pretty terrible. Here is yolky blog now to talk about the resort CO in his own words. Yeah, so as you said, I'm a co founder of the resort CO, which is an international lifestyle brand in the resort where sort of vacation, we can wear a category. And we develop updated versions of the timeless men's wear shoes and clothing in a low impact way for you to enjoy when you know you're having the best times in your life. And I think the company we so me and Nicholas, who originally founded the company, we did not come from fashion at all. So Nicholas had has a background in management consulting and Telecom, telco, and myself as well in consulting and financial technology. And I think the company sprung out of our desire to have more vacation, be more in tropical destinations, do some, you know, create something that was different from what we were doing and do something creative. Okay, awesome, man. So what, if any, were there any transferable skills from from your days? And in consulting to what we seen now before us? I Yeah, I think so. I think I think we're, we're a we're a company that we have never, like you're packed a single box of shoes or clothing or so on, which I think most ecommerce stores do when they launch. But like, we had a very properly designed operating model from the start. I think, you know, we've, we've been very aware of financial modelling its own Of course, and in terms of our go to market strategy, we've certainly have been very experienced in how to, you know, develop a sort of wholesale sales channel. How do you develop trust and credibility and relationships with people? So, yeah, I think it's help. Well, it looks great. I mean, so you guys started 2018? Yeah. 2018 Yeah. And you have like, you've got sunglasses, your polos, and you also has a women's wear as well. And, and some shoe espadrilles, it looks like a very streamlined collection, but also quite desirable. And well for our collection. Did you start start with any colour line first? Or did you have all of the lines going at the same time? No, we did. We did start with flip flops off things. So. Okay, so we minica started a company, you know, in parallel of like being employed. And we, I don't, it's suddenly dawned on us that there are no nice flip flops at all. You know, they all look horrible. They're sort of plastic or rubber. And the ones that came from the sign houses were expensive, you know, they were often adored with like chains or something to motivate the high price point. And not that desirable. So but we were we were we were down in Italy by sort of like by Lake Como. And you know, everything was kind of looking nice, but it was a heatwave. We were dressed nice except for like actually wearing rubber flip flops. So we thought somebody has to do something about this. And we went we took the car drove down south to Tuscany, found the factory and started to develop handmade flip flops in Tuscany from is a high end leather sourced in Santa Crozier, the leather region in Tuscany. And yeah, they're handmade by by you know, artisan shoemakers in Italy. So that's how the brand, that's how the brand started. And then, you know, we we all along knew that we wanted to build a more full fully fledged resort where lifestyle brands so we we have launched swimwear espadrilles as you said and and and ventured into clothing with polos and sunglasses. Yeah, I love. So yeah, I've just done the website now which people can find, by the way, the resort code calm. And I'm like, I will review with you guys to flip flops. I want to wear them because it can be you know, really hot and uncomfortable wearing boat shoes, or just simple trainers, even with ankle socks in hot weather. So you want to resort pardon the pun, to flip flops and get some air going. But having those bits of plastic, or those bits of rubber that are the main focal grip between your toes can just get so grating after a couple of kilometres. So what is the difference? Is it that these are made a lever and is a softer lever? Is that the secret? Yeah, so I mean, it's, it's just better materials. And they look a lot nicer when you wear them. Because you see, I mean, it's like nice suede or saffiano leather that you see instead of rubber. And then instead of like a simple Rubber Soul, the actual insole and outsole is not made of the same type of material that you make sport shoes. So they're really comfortable to walk in as well. And, and from a sustainability perspective, they also last you a lot longer. So you can work like this. Like you can wear them for many, many seasons. Nice. Looks great. I encourage everyone to check these out. And some nice range of colours as well that you can go in and websites very easy to use, like it. joking. Tell me a little bit about the starting steps. How did you raise the capital to get this going? Was it something you knew your Nikolas invested in? personally? Yeah, we're entirely self funded still. So that's fun. It was ever were you ever attempt to do like crowdfunding or like investment rounds or anything like that? No. We, I mean, we we didn't require a lot of starting capital, not definitely not more than we could afford to invest ourselves. And it's, you know, over the years, obviously, it's a bit of a strain on the personal economy to build to build a lifestyle brand. And, but you know, we manage, and we, I think, for the next step of the brand, we might need to raise some capital. We'll see. Right? And so how does it work with say, like these factories in Tuscany? Do you have to put minimum orders in and then are you sitting on these? Are they kind of by the order made to order as it were? Yeah, know that. That's the way with all the factories that we work with that you you place an order, and generally you pay a certain percentage when you place the order, and then you pay the rest for them to when they're done and for them to ship them to you. So yeah, you have to Okay, yeah. Well, that works out. So you're not sitting on loads and loads of stock each season. Okay. Yeah. But I think I think it helps that we, I mean, we tried to develop, like timeless products that can live season to season. So if we invest in in inventory, and we don't sell it all, we can sell it next year. Is that so we don't have to put on a big sale or? Yeah, that makes sense. And what about your own personal inspiration? jokin. So what were you kind of wearing going into this before he launched the brand, your own personal style, maybe some inspirations you've taken say from movies, iconic actors? What is your background in terms of inspiration to start this? Yeah, I think I mean, I think my, my personal style was sort of classic in a way inspired by classic Italian and British fashion. I, at the time, when we started the company, we were both wearing suits every day of the week, and I think that was that was part of you know, why we decided to launch vacation, where do we, you know, we got tired doing that, I guess. But basically, we designed you know, the products that we want to wear So I'd say that inspiration comes from every part of life. So yeah, it's like it is movies, it is blogs, and Instagram accounts. But it's like from journeys and memories. And it's just, it's our vision of how we think that you should work, you know, how you should dress, new leisure time. And we look at classics, and we try to update them, and either update them with new patterns as on, but or just sort of raise the bar in terms of quality or comfort. So if you look at our espadrilles, for instance, like we have a, we have a sort of classic suede escadrille. But the insole is it's it's made from a microfiber soul with dampening, so it actually wicks away all the moist, and it's, it's cool, and very comfortable. So you can wear it all day long. Instead of you're standing on sort of a course rope. So that will be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, that would be sort of comfortable. But like you don't want to walk around in it for too long. And so they're way more comfortable than any, any espadrilles you've ever tried. I assure you that nice. And we also, we also did our own take on the on the on this project by sort of few saying that that's the drill with a Belgian loafer sort of inspired us. So it has that sort of Belgian loafer APR on it? Which, right, the game came up very nice. Yeah, I'm looking at now, they're very nice. They're kind of like leather trim that goes around the top apron around the back. And so who's, who's designing these? I mean, let me take that back. One. How long is it taking you guys to put this together in terms of researching those inner souls and researching all the kind of bits and bobs that you wanted to put in here? Is it quite the process to get something like this off the ground? Yes, yeah. So I think, like our first like flip flops, the product that we have now. And it's not the first iteration, you know, iterations on either it's, but it's, you know, it took like a year and a half before we had the product that we launched. And then we iterated on that. And espadrilles more than a year, maybe year and a half there as well. Swim shorts, roughly a year as well. So we have quite long, I think development cycles. Because once you decide what you want to do, you need to find factories that are skilled enough to do it. And then you need to find the best materials. And then you need to develop samples, and iterate on those samples. And you know, iterate again, and then you need to wear them yourself to make sure that you know the quality is great and that they actually fit the work the way that you have imagined them. And they usually fix them. So it takes a while. And I think having the strategy of developing like with our strategies, we want to develop the perfect swim shorts, the perfect husbandry list of perfect flip flops. And if you have that strategy, it will take a while but then you can keep that item in inventory for years to come. So it makes sense. And if something happens, you can just iterate on it a bit. I love these swim shorts love to see a second ones that you got going on here and wearing them now. There's no need for that in the UK right at the minute we've got another flash flood on the way so unless I might be swimming in the outside in my garden, but the the other swim shorts Hebrew and I just think there's some great choices with the colours as well. I call these kind of rustic colours that you can get with a patterns. They look fantastic, Matt, congratulations, it must be great when they first arrived and you had them in your hand for the first time that they were literally more palpable. And it was it was a thing that you've created rather than something that is, you know, like an illusion after a year that you never thought was gonna know it is so good. And it's I mean, particularly once you have the finalised product and you see how it gets I mean, it's all classic sort of men's wear any men's wear, like sort of classic. It's, you know, a huge part of it is in the materials and actually see the materials in its final shape. So we're very happy with the materials that we've chosen for the swim shorts and they will use recycled materials as well. So the different from the different from seersucker versus others, for instance, but we use SQL fabric, for instance, that come from recycled ocean plastics that are collected from the Mediterranean. And every detail of the swim shorts have been like, really, we've really focused on it. So the side adjusters there's made in the small Italian of the year. And then like the buttons are made of mother pearl. And even I, what is called sort of the net on the inside. Like we've tried sauganash Yeah, the swim. Yeah. So you know, you know how sometimes when you're on the beach share you love mesh starts to wear on you. That's, that's not happening in our swim shorts. This is another type of mesh. It's the most comfortable mesh, and I'm saying the most comfortable again, like, you know, you're on vacation. So comfort, comfort is, is important. It's no, and we put a lot of focus into selecting that mesh as well. Yeah, I so I'm learning about sea quail now. Yeah. You'll have to forgive me. It's I mean, it's quite new to me, obviously, I've learned of, I'm familiar with upcycle. products, and, and plastics, but not the actual definition of the name. So is this more expensive to come by? This is something that you kind of have to factor in with price and exclusivity? Is it harder to come by? Also, is it harder to actually source? It's, I mean, it's absolutely more of an effort to go for sustainable materials. It's a deliberate choice that, you know, that takes a lot of work. But I think, as demand for those types of fabrics and products are increasing, they're becoming more easy to source and so on. So I don't know if that answers your question. Now. For us, it's like, it's, it's really at the core of what we want the brand to be, we want to be a sustainable low impact brands, both in terms of environmental impact, but also social impact. And we want that to be we want all our products to be developed in that way. And all the factories that we that we choose. And I think in the sort of next step of the brand, we're also looking at how we can use the communication platform that we asked the brand to highlight these questions even further. But that's, you'll see later on, I'll get No, I'm just wondering why there's not more brands using these kinds of fabrics for their products. It's accessible. And it's and it's not, you know, astronomical in price don't include, why aren't more brands, higher name brands applying this fabric in their products? So I guess that's a question for them. So what maybe you can just hint at towards what's next for you joking? Are you looking at bricks and mortar at all? You spoke to me offline about the festival coming up in Copenhagen, maybe you can talk about that? Oh, yeah. I'm so I'm so much looking forward to that. So it's, I think it's the 10th to the third 13th of August, actually, the Copenhagen industry event revolver is happening. So we're exhibiting there. And real weird with a four week old and a three year old home. You know, I don't go out to restaurants much and I don't see it would be really good to go there with my you know, with my co founders and friends and, and hang out and do some business, but to what you said about what's like coming in the future for us as a brand. We are right now trans transitioning into something much bigger. And we I mean, we're currently in the sales window for ss 22. And so I can tell you that with somewhat some confidence that will be a much bigger brand next year with representation that tier one wholesalers that have decided to pick us in their curation so we're very happy for that. And we're also going into next season with some interesting collapse. And we do plan to make a bigger mark in sustainable clothing and yeah, have some I think exciting stuff there. And we're also expanding our product range a lot. So we I mean, we use ventured into clothing for the first time for the season. And for next season we're having we're coming in with a sort of full range with No t shirts and linen pants linen shirt over shirts. So big button linen, which is actually really it's the most we think sustainable natural fibre. And yeah, we were launching Terry products and that's it's a big change for the for the brand next year. sounds like to me you're about to be bought out by Chanel for 50 million and you leverage James Bond heritage collection on the books this time next year. Sounds like to weigh your to lower price, Peter. Did I also I left off zero. Brandon looks great. Now so we're gonna say I don't know. Oh, no. I think well. Well, the the pictures look great. The lifestyle imagery looks terrific. The websites also really easy to navigate around. Can you imagine that? Those pictures the lifestyle pictures we have on the site. So like the small amount of them are from like Mexico, but most of them so that sort of the main videos, the sort of main lifestyle pictures are from beaches in southern Sweden. Oh, really? Yeah. Thank you. southern Sweden actually has like perfect beaches. Wow. Oh, my god that looks like Yeah, that looks like that could just be on the south coast of Florida right there. With those sort of beaches there. So keep keeping the cost down. Just doing a short jaunt over to the beaches of Sweden. Yeah, it looks very exotic. Yeah, I we do look forward to being able to like shoot on St. Barts, but that was not like an option this year. And both on account of the pandemic, but also like three of us having no babies at all. God, what is the relationship with the co founders? And how often do you speak to Nikolas? Is he like the silent partner and you have to be the ambassador? Or would you both chip in with this sort of stuff? Oh, no, no, no, we're I mean, we, we put we all pull the same way to me and Nicholas, founded the company we are we've known each other for a long time since we got to know each other at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, in 2000, and something and then we were we brought on call from Bhushan cells as a co founder last year. And we got to know Carl he was CEO and partner at project on PR, which was done is the leading fashion PR agency in Sweden, and Scandinavia it really and so he joined us last summer. But we I mean, we're a bunch of friends essentially. And our sales director Mateus joined the company quite recently as well. We're all just a bunch of friends. Like having fun, nice. Sounds like a good company to work for. Well, I love the name as well. I think it's a really cool name for a brand, especially like an aspirational lifestyle brand. Who came up with the name either but I you know as with most things in life that turned out well for me was thanks to my wife and was actually on that same trip to a play where we were by Lake Como. And we were, I think that was before kids and we were a few bottles of Barolo in and trying to figure out the name. It was not it was not the first name we tried. But but then like Savannah told me to like it like you should, like your name should be what you are like, and like we're doing resort versus the resort company. And it kind of has a cookie, the band kind of feeling I think. Yeah, yeah, I guess it is. It's like the band being the 70s kind of, you know, folk band that they work on themselves a band. Yeah, there are many bands, but there's only one D band. Yeah, let's say we're saying we're here, you know, did you in Lake Como Did you manage to get to go to any locations like what you got there? You got the James Bond location? The villa balbianello. I think it is where they filmed Casino Royale. And they did their Star Wars there as well. And then they did Star Wars. I didn't know. I think that the sixth, the third one, and so returned to the Sif or something like that. Wow. Okay. I think I think Yeah, with you and McGregor and yeah, I'd recommend everybody to like take a tour on the lake. And then you can take, you can take a tour on the lake in one of the, you know, really nice river boats. We, we didn't, we, we took a tour on the lake and sort of this houseboat, you sit on the roof, and there was this Italian couple that served food and natural wine that they made, we went swimming in the lake, and they showed us they were from the area. So they showed us their sort of hidden gems. And that very, very good. I guess, I guess the captain got a little bit drunk at the end. But you know, if you're concerned about that, you know, don't choose another company. But otherwise, you know, they're, they're a great company to have. Nice, I've got a bit of time for that. Well, you know, you're, you're not going across the English Channel, you're only going from one side of the lake to the other and through the funnies in between. and I found imagine he's doing anything more than 50 knots on that thing. So I forgive him. I digress. Joking, thanks so much for coming on. And talking about the resort co I'm looking forward to all the new additions that you're going to be adding in the next year or so. And I hope to stay in touch. Thank you. It's It's been a pleasure. And I'm looking forward to tell you what's happened in a year or something like that. Wonderful. Yeah. And enjoy copening will do enjoy your time off. Thank you. Great talking to you too. Take care. Have a good night. Cheers. Bye. Yo Keem Balaam there thank you. Yo Keem and I'm sorry if I've murdered your name. He didn't tell me how to pronounce it before we turn the mics on and I did my best anywho the resort co.com the place to go to check out all those wonderful products. Thank you all for listening. And if you want to become a guest on the show, then why not email us here info at men's West out or Koto UK. Check out the website. That's where we'll put all the show notes and all the links to your game site and that will be found at menswear. style.co.uk Why don't you follow us on the social at menswear style because then you'll stay updated when we post new blogs, new podcasts, etc. In the meantime, thank you for listening and I'll catch you on the next one.