Ascent To Excellence: The Success Story Of Elite Outdoor Gear Brand And Its Visionary Founder RedFox has a team of over 1000 professionals and extends its reach to over 100 retail points across four continents.
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Vlad Moroz, a mountaineer and a co-founder of RedFox, is a hidden gem of high-end outdoor equipment. Back in 1989, when RedFox embarked on its journey, the company's roots were shrouded in mystery. Observers speculated for a time that it might be a Norwegian brand, perhaps because of the widespread appeal of winter sports. RedFox was never explicitly positioned as either an American or Russian brand; instead, it was defined as a brand created by climbers, for climbers.
Today, RedFox has a team of over 1000 professionals and extends its reach to over 100 retail points across four continents. On top of that, the brand goes beyond crafting exceptional outdoor gear and actively contributes to the sports community by organizing major athletic events. Notable among these are the Elbrus Race and the RedFox Adventure Race, both attracting over 500 professionals from around the world, and the 14 Eight-thousanders Program — an ambitious initiative to conquer 14 highest peaks.
90s in the Himalayas — How RedFox's Story Started
It all began with Vlad making backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags for his own survival in the cold mountains. What started as a personal necessity evolved into a hobby. Vlad extended his craft to gear for friends, his team, and himself. As the political and economic landscape underwent restructuring during Perestroika, an entrepreneurial opportunity emerged, and Moroz seized it, becoming one of the first wave of entrepreneurs in post-Soviet Union Russia.
While climbers' equipment was essential, no one in the mountaineering community had thought to turn it into a business. For Vlad, business was a natural byproduct of creating exceptional gear and being in the right circles at the right time. Word-of-mouth did the rest.
Operating abroad was on the agenda from the get-go. Expeditioners would embark on sponsored journeys and sell equipment at outdoor shops upon returning. Tourists then rented or bought the exact same gear. This was an underserved niche with high demand. So Vlad took RedFox jackets and marketed them as top-tier gear for 8,000-meter climbs, which led to skyrocketing sales.
With the assistance of a distributor, Vlad introduced Russian outdoor clothing to the American market. Learning from this endeavor, he enhanced RedFox's manufacturing infrastructure. Despite the well-documented 1997 Asian financial crisis, which adversely impacted factories in Southeast Asia, local production in Russia remained profitable due to its independence from exchange rate fluctuations. This stability provided a robust foundation for further development.
Going Global as an Outdoor Equipment Retailer
From 2007 to 2017, Vlad, the entrepreneur and mountaineer who successfully summited Everest and Ama Dablam, actively participated as an exhibitor and speaker at various tradeshows and conferences throughout Europe. Events like ISPO Munich, Outdoor Friedrichshafen, and the European Outdoor Group were just a few highlights. Sharing the stage with major competitors such as Columbia and The North Face not only increased brand visibility in foreign markets but also fostered collaborations with partners.
These endeavors eventually translated into increased orders, the establishment of stores in Switzerland and America, and the initiation of new projects, including one for ski schools in Germany and Austria. RedFox distinguished itself from traditional one-size-fits-all outdoor companies by adopting a personalized approach. This uniqueness resonated particularly well with skiing and climbing instructors, who, working tirelessly 300 days a year, found a special connection with Vlad's creations.
Side-by-side with Adventurers—Not a One-man Show
Teams' talent and consistent efforts built grandioseness. During the period from 2012 to 2018, as Vlad expanded the business, he assimilated expertise from various professionals, including American, German, and Italian designers. The goal? To seamlessly blend exclusivity with functionality.
Simultaneously Vlad, serving as the foremost RedFox evangelist and custodian of its culture, spearheaded a sponsorship program. This initiative aimed at supporting various extreme sports while gathering feedback and promotion from athletes. Notable figures in this program included, but were not limited to, Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck, German slackliner Friedi Kühne, Russian BASE jumper Valery Rozov, and Australian climber and Guinness World Record breaker Glenn Singleman.
Delivering Exclusiveness at a High Level, Literally
From Everest to the North Pole, navigating high-mountain peaks — you name it. Only those who have dedicated a lifetime to these remote locations know what it takes to produce professional outdoor gear.
Vlad once found himself on a unique North Pole expedition as a VIP guest, accompanied by 200 individuals all in RedFox gear. The journey began in Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway, and extended 140 km to Barneo Camp, located near the North Pole. Good news, explorers returned safe and sound, all outfitted in RedFox. The fact that the clothing endured temperatures as low as -40°C became evidence-based advertising.
In another case, he took part in expeditions to the Eurasia mountains. Think of the Ismoil Somoni, Korzhenevskaya, Lenin, Victory, and Khan Tengri peaks. Vlad couldn't help but notice how base camps, instructors, tents, and tour guides carried the RedFox flag.
These real examples speak volumes.
At times, business discussions unfolded 8,000 above sea level when taking off the oxygen mask. Vlad humorously describes these high-altitude conversations: "Hey, I'm heading to Elbrus next week. I need a jacket. When can I pick it up?" This personalized and exclusive customer experience is a testament to the unique relationships RedFox has established over decades.
World-class Production Veterans in Charge
The RedFox co-founder was ahead of his time, importing Merrel trekking shoes and GenSports backpacks to Russia before anyone else and venturing into a line of freeride ski products during the early 2000s, when the sport was booming. It wasn't until several years later when the domestic market was ready to embrace such initiatives. However, despite the minor setbacks, the business thrived.
Vlad's success can be attributed to three key factors. Firstly, he excels at what he focuses on, particularly in designing and producing Everest-resistant clothing. Secondly, he embraces experimentation coupled with thoughtful decision-making to produce award-winning products. And last but not least, he possesses exceptional business development expertise that allows him to scale business on the international arena.
Vlad knows his business from start to finish — raw materials, machinery, standards for excellence, and manufacturing. This combination forms the formula that the team adheres to in meeting production requirements. It's worth noting that many members of the RedFox crew have a background either in mountaineering or tourism, and some boast 30 years of experience with the company. This collective human talent serves as the genuine backbone of consistently high quality over time.
Undoubtedly, the Ukraine-Russia war impacted the RedFox business, particularly in the Western world due to various sanctions, morale concerns, and hierarchical challenges. Nevertheless, Vlad's unwavering commitment remains focused on sports. In the face of super-cold temperatures and extremely challenging conditions, RedFox is dedicated to safeguarding adventurers' best experiences.