Sustainability Story : PEARL iZUMi | By Lexi Reich

Last Updated: May 5, 2020By

Cory Hibbard is the category designer for BikeStyle at PEARL iZUMi. A Western Slope native, she grew up in Ridgway, Colorado and attributes her experiences in and around the San Juan mountains as the main influence in becoming an active/outdoor apparel designer. Hibbard describes her work as “adventure-powered design,” where she blends learnings from all the activities Colorado has to offer with her love for style, flawless functionality and sustainability. CO YOGA + Life® Magazine asked Hibbard about PEARL iZUMi’s mission on sustainability.

What is PEARL iZUMi’s mission?

PEARL iZUMi was founded on two things: the love of cycling and, more importantly, love for future generations. The brand originated more than 60 years ago in Japan, when the founder created a special jersey out of technical fabric for his son, an aspiring bike racer. Since then, the company has been progressing the design and manufacture of performance apparel and footwear for cyclists of all levels. PEARL iZUMi believes that how we live today shapes how future generations ride, and is committed to using their business practices, products and community advocacy to create a positive impact through cycling. PEARL iZUMi’s world headquarters are located in the Colorado Front Range, where it embraces strong influence, both culturally and structurally, from its Japanese heritage.

What does sustainability mean to PEARL iZUMi?

At PEARL iZUMi, we see how sustainability can take on many different forms that ultimately create an overall force for good. To us, that means focusing on where we can make the most impactful difference through our business practices, products and advocacy efforts. Our social purpose is built from these three pillars and is the guiding force for good behind everything we do. I think this multi-focus approach to sustainability lays the runway for so much more participation within the company and really utilizes everyone’s area of expertise and brainpower.

Tell us about the PEARL iZUMi building in Louisville. How is the structure eco-friendly? Why was that important?

  1. Our building is designed to bring the outdoors in, taking advantage of available natural light and fresh air, reducing our need to light and heat/cool the building.
  2. We have a system that can pull warm air from a hot part of the building to cooler areas, reducing the need to create new heat while cooling other areas.
  3. All of the rain water that falls on our property is captured in a series of drainage ponds, which have a special natural rock/soil filtration system at the bottom to remove motor oil and other pollutants, before the water is absorbed back into the ground. This eliminates run-off that must be handled by storm sewers.
  4. Our steel exterior never needs to be painted or treated.
  5. 10-inch thick structural foam panels were used to build the walls, so the building is very energy efficient and we rarely need to run the heater or air conditioner.

What goes on inside the office?

Everything. On a typical day, the office is buzzing with life, and it is easy to observe because of the way the building encourages collaboration. The open concept promotes the flow of ideas between departments and creates an exciting environment to work in. The best way I can summarize what goes on inside the office is to look at a product’s life — from ideation all the way through to when the consumer wears it on a ride. The shell of the product idea is brought to the table by the merchandising team and a brief is then given to the design team. Simultaneously, the materials team works early on and closely with the designers to begin fabric and trim ideation and sourcing. The designers use their seasonal design language, trend research and design principles to ideate (either by hand or straight into CAD) sketches for the new product. Initial concepts are presented, tweaked and often prototyped in-house before being polished into full technical sketches and handed off to the development team. The developers work closely with the factory to generate prototypes and work with live models to conduct fittings. The sourcing and operations teams determine which factory will be best for the product to be manufactured in and coordinate shipping calendars and logistics. Soon, the sales team is brought in to see the new product and they educate the sales rep team about the product, as well as present the new product to buyers. Marketing coordinates the photoshoots, video shoots, press and social media content around the product, and the go-to-market team makes sure information about the product is up and that the product can be purchased on our website. There is so much more that goes into the daily operations, including our accounting team, customer service team and our made-to-order team, to name a few.

Your women’s line is developed entirely by women. Why is that a rarity in today’s industry? What does it mean to be a female engineer at PEARL iZUMi?

Yes, it is! Everything from the design, the development, the early prototyping and the material sourcing was done by a badass team of women inside HQ. It is awesome to see the ideas, tough decisions and intelligence of an all-women team going into the product for a traditionally male heavy sport. I say traditionally because I think the landscape has changed now to where so many more women are getting out on their bikes and tearing it up. Being a female designer for me means leading with trust. Trust in my own abilities and ideas — that they are relevant, well thought out, and ultimately will provide an awesome riding experience. Trust in my coworkers and team — that they will see the vision and support one another in order to bring all of our best ideas to life. It is challenging, never boring, and at the end of the day, always rewarding.


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