Don't be Late to the Early Majority Party
Born at the intersection of cutting-edge technology, environmental consciousness and democratic design, Early Majority has seemingly emerged from nowhere, fully formed and intent on breathing new life into the fashion landscape.
Inclusivity and democracy are core tenets of the Early Majority ethos, with the brand proudly offering women a level of uncompromised, full-featured technical apparel usually reserved for men. This anti 'pink it and shrink it' approach is combined with an honest desire to embrace more environmentally friendly production processes; utilizing recycled materials wherever possible, reducing factory offcuts and promoting a ‘buy less-buy better’ mentality.
Despite being in its relative infancy, the brand has fast gained the attention of those with an interest in progressive, forward thinking design and a considered approach to production. While noble intentions and big ideas alone may catch interest, having the products to back up its mission statement sets EM apart from the pack.
Based around the concept of a modular ecosystem, Early Majority products serve either as a standalone product or a component of a wider puzzle – each playing a role in kitting you out 'For All Eventualities’. Whether for life in the city or outdoor excursions, EM aims to offer a comprehensive, all-in-one solution.
The level of product the brand has on offer is perhaps best exemplified by its flagship shell jacket; technical details abound, demonstrating no expense has been spared. An integrated waist bag can be removed via Fidlock magnetic slider buckles, whilst RiRi waterproof zippers fasten the jacket’s central panel and DWR-treated Pertex Shield fabric ensures more than adequate protection from the elements.
Whilst such surface-level fabrication speaks to the product's premium quality, EM’s attention to detail is equally evident through more subtle features; gusseted articulation at the elbows, a removable hood with adjustable funnel peak, and reinforced perforations hidden beneath a back panel, all work to display an intense desire to accommodate the realistic needs of daily life. Even the jacket's central panel is deliberately removable, permitting a silhouette that is changeable to match a wider variety of body types.
One notable point lending some serious weight to the brand's ecological ambitions comes via the lifetime guarantee offered for certain products, ensuring the ‘buy less-buy better’ mentality isn’t just a convenient mantra to hide behind. This is coupled with an innovative ‘Merch Map’, an internal labelling system relaying product information, along with a QR code which traces the garment's journey from the factory to the consumer.
With such a clear vision for itself, and features that display a thorough commitment to its purpose, it should come as no surprise that EM holds a prestigious pedigree. Co-founder Hannah ter Meulen engrains the brand DNA with a streamlined, technically minded feel that is no doubt indebted to her tenure as head of design for Norse Projects. This is combined with partner Joy Howard, Patagonia’s former Head of Marketing, lending a heightened sense of expertise and credibility.
For such a young label, Early Majority seems centred around an ambitiously high-concept premise, and though it’s early days, the brand has seemingly wasted no time in formulating a multi-faceted presence – with the utmost thought and consideration put into each move.
How do you define Early Majority as a brand?
A community that makes gear for getting outside.
What does the name mean?
Early Majority is the first 35% of the population to adopt a product or technology. It’s also a very positive way to reposition an otherwise marginalised position— we’re just early!
As mentioned on your website: art, adventure and activism play vital roles in informing your brand identity. Did you intentionally seek to find the meeting point of these three concepts, or was this a natural progression?
We found outdoor brands often lacking in creativity— so while there’s always adventure and sometimes activism, there’s almost never the kind of creative or aesthetic sensibility we felt we could bring to the space.
How have you achieved a balance between technical, high-performance apparel and considered, sustainable production?
We always knew we wanted to keep the production lines as short and close as possible to reduce emissions and also to be able to be closer to the process. We started the brand in Paris; it made sense to try and find a production facility in Europe. Alongside this, we wanted to ensure that the workers are treated fairly and that the facilities are of the highest standard when it comes to sustainable practices. Our factory (Petratex) is the creme de la creme when it comes to all of the above. The partnership with them allows us to make clothes that perform to the highest standards whilst knowing that they have been produced sustainably and ethically. Not to forget that it also allows us to offer a lifetime guarantee.
The world of technical apparel has notoriously suffered from a lack of inclusivity, how important is it for you to cater to a variety of people within this space?
It’s one of our number one priorities; whilst working in the industry, we experienced the continual frustration of not finding the ‘right’ gear, or when you do find it, it doesn’t fit. This is because it’s usually designed for men first. And not that we don’t want guys to have cool gear. We want it to! For everyone! So we collaborate with many organisations that work to get people outside and doing things. As well as constantly reviewing our fits and designs to ensure they are good for everyone. We have a discord where we actively invite people to give us feedback on the product and send us their wishlists. Only by working together can we create better products for everyone.
We’ve seen the brand make several references to ‘leaning out’. Can you expand on what this means?
It’s the unfortunately radical notion that the system is broken, not you. So instead of changing yourself, enjoy yourself and change the system!
It’s also a play on words, which suggests that getting outside is the antidote to the self-improvement/hustle culture brand of lean-in feminism.
Early Majority has a well-defined mission statement. What informed your desire for change within the industry?
A recognition that the existing industry sufferers from gender AND geographic myopia. It always starts with men first, and we wanted to see what happened if we started from another perspective. It’s also almost always designed from the perspective of people who live in Ventura (worst case) or Aspen (best case?), and we wanted rugged outdoor clothing that looked as great in the city as it did in the backcountry.
Your collaborative badges are such a great platform for creativity and have seen you link up with some great minds within the space. How have partnerships with the likes of Unowned Spaces come to be?
We’re all united in wanting to bring creativity and artfulness to the outdoors— no need to be a jock or prove you can summit Everest. Let’s uplift each other and appreciate nature!
What makes Early Majority clothing fit for ‘all eventualities’?
Our modular design allows you to layer up and down depending on what weather and activity you encounter. We created the ‘anti’ merch map, a map of the elements that shows you which garment combination is for which eventuality. The design is geared towards giving you the most amount of protection as well as pockets!
Can you explain your membership model and how the digital space incorporates the use of discord and NFTs?
Discord and NFTs are a natural evolution of our membership model to the extent that tokens bind our mutual interests together behind a common asset with utility. Your token unlocks our site and access to our server, and if our model is successful, it will grow over time. Our business is predicated on the belief that we can grow by expanding a supportive community rather than proliferating unnecessary product. That’s the essence of degrowth.
How are you acting to reduce Early Majority’s impact on the earth and find sustainable solutions within the fashion industry?
Our main goal is for you to wear your garments as long as possible; the goal we have for each garment is that the cost per wear should be as low as possible, and only then we make a sustainable product. To achieve that, we offer a lifetime guarantee and soon a trade-in service so we can keep garments in circulation as long as possible. And we are moving to a made-to-order/made-on-demand model where we only make the garments that people want and need.
Needless to say, the future of Early Majority is bright, and there must be plenty of projects on the horizon. Can you clue us in on what to expect next?
We’re going to continue blazing the trail of true multifunctionality— helping people consume less and live more. We’ll never proliferate for the sake of newness but rather always seek to hone and improve! Edit to amplify. Excess is death. Curation is validation. Discovery is strength!