To those in the industry, Marc Blanchard is somewhat of a legend in his own right. Former partner and creative director at One Industries (and also designer for JT Racing) Marc Blanchard took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions with derestricted.com about the state of the motocross industry, his role in 100% and why America keeps winning the Motocross Des Nations.
100% has really hit the ground running, you have an iconic logo, quality products, superb photography and a really nice website. What is your role in these things and who else do you work with to bring them alive?
I am the creative director and therefore oversee all aspect of the products from concepts to photography, catalogs and ads, I rely on the best guy for the design in 3D and a great photographer that I have known for a long time. We don’t cut corners in these departments. The result is great and it always pays off but it’s a lot of work and passion that goes into that!
What are your thoughts on the state of the motocross industry at the moment?
Bikes sales are down according to surveys but people ride more than ever. The economy seems to recover slowly but surely and I don’t recall any MX company going under despite the catastrophic years we’ve been through. I’m optimistic on the fact that passionate people will always find a way to do what they love.
What are some of the biggest challenges at the moment in developing new products for motocross?
To be different but still be relevant. To bring something new without breaking the rules. MX is a very demanding sport and the products are very technical.
Due to the chaotic global economy, trade barriers, high oil prices and fluctuating currencies, what are your thoughts on the chances of seeing a re-industralisation process in the west?
It’s more and more a reality as Asia is becoming as expensive as some American manufactures. In Europe the biggest challenge is the Euro vs Dollar trade. But it’s an advantage for a European distributor to buy American products. Brazil is building their own US products under license, this is interesting.
Why do you think America has become so dominant in the MX de Nations since the 80’s and which country do you see most likely to dethrone them?
First of all, I think the talent pool is deeper in the US. The country is so large that forming a team of top shelf riders that will perform at the top in each class is easier. Countries like France, Belgium or Italy can win some motos but so far it is hard for these teams to bring 3 riders of that caliber. This year’s MXoN will be raced in the sand and I still think USA can prevail. Stewart, Dungey and Barcia makes a great team for a sandy race. US vs Europe vs Rest of the world would make it more balanced but the MX des Nations needs to stay the way it is in my opinion.
Marc, Older readers will of course remember the Iconic 100% logo from the 80’s, and your website is full of the brands History,(I especially enjoyed the interview with Drew Lien) but can you Tell us a little About how 100% was reborn?
My partner Ludo Boinnard and I always liked this brand and what it stands for, even when we were at One Industries and were competitors. Drew Lien was also a genuine and friendly guy, we shared his passion for the sport.
Long before ONE was created I worked on some t-shirt design for him when our common friend David Bailey introduced me to him.
2 years ago, Ludo called me one day and told me he was on the verge of buying the old trademark and asked me to be partners. Pretty much like when I asked him to be partner at ONE industries. We just hit the reset button.
I have seen 100% goggles showing up recently in a lot of mountain bike press and races, are there any different requirements for DH compared to MX?
The major requirement is vented lenses. We are starting to offer multitude color options with dual pane and vents. Also a lighter vent foam around the frame helps ventilation in DH.
Can you talk a little about where you hope to take 100% over the coming years, for example do you want to also try and enter other markets such as snowboarding/skiing?
MX is where the heart is and Downhill is very close to it. We’ll see but as of now we do not have any interest in snow.
What do you think is key to creating a successful brand?
1: Product design. 2: Creativity. 3: Distribution. 4: Athletes endorsement. These links can’t be broken.
You can have a great product but if nobody sees it, it won’t be sold. On the other hand we see a lot of crap out there that could be better designed.
What MX bike do you ride the most at the moment?
I own an RMZ 250 F but I’m planning on getting a 13′ KTM 250 f. I really dig the look of this bike and my good friends Seb Tortelli and Mike Sleeter are riding them.
What is your all time favorite motocross bike?
I really fantasized on the Yamaha YZ factory bikes as a kid in the 80’s. And later on the 85 Honda that Bailey / O’mara rode with.
What is your first stop on the web each day?
Instagram, RacerX, VitalMx and some design blogs.
Who is you favorite designer?
I don’t idolize any famous designers but I have some friends that I have been working with that I truly respect and envy for their skills.
The G-Star crew is really amazing but I always liked architects as that was my first wish to become as a kid. Kaufmann, Neutra, Eames etc..
What inspires you?
A lot of things around me, architecture, furnitures or else. The shower is the place were the questions are answered.. lol.
If you could pick any set of motocross gear over the years as a favorite, which would it be?
It’s too tough to pick only one. The JT Bailey Fluo Orange, the JT legators, 91′ AXO mission control, the NoFear lines when they were cool, I like Fox only since 2 years ago when they finally went with bold graphics.
And now the Shift since it’s revamping, thanks to my buddy JM.