The Lausanne-based company, Mover, manufactures winter sport clothing using natural fibres. With this profile, entrepreneur Nicolas Rochat clearly distinguishes himself from international competitors. He is firmly convinced that sustainability is a decisive success factor, today and in the future.
Once you’ve worn wool, you’ll never want to wear synthetic clothing again. You feel so much more comfortable in wool.
The fashion markets are saturated, or even supersaturated, and this is especially the case with respect to sportswear. It is now extremely difficult for new brands to gain a share of the market in this highly competitive arena. Unless a company comes up with a truly original and different idea, it is almost impossible for it to attract the attention of the trade and the general public. When he invested in the Swedish sportswear brand, Mover, 15 years ago, Nicolas Rochat, an entrepreneur from French-speaking Switzerland, quickly discovered that the label, which was created in 1982, appeared to be going nowhere. In 2006 he took over the brand completely, transferred its domicile to Lausanne and set out to find a unique selling point for Mover.
He came up with the answer during a lengthy ski tour around the Grand Chavalard, when he and his companions found themselves sweating profusely in their ski jackets during the ascent, despite the very cold conditions, while his dog Ferox apparently did not experience any problem with overheating as a result of the strenuous climb. Then during their stay in the Col de Fenestral ski lodge, Nicolas Rochat noticed that Ferox was also able to lay down in front of the open fire in complete comfort. That was when it became clear to him that in the course of millions of years of evolution, nature has long since provided the best possible solutions to such challenges for human beings and animals.
So Nicolas Rochat decided to focus entirely on natural materials. “At that time we decided that it made very little sense to simply produce the same things as our competitors.” Today, 12 years later, Mover is able to produce functional skiwear made entirely from natural fibres. All the layers of the clothing, including lining and wadding materials, are made from renewable raw materials. Furthermore, many of the innovative materials which Mover uses are “Swiss made”, i.e. developed together with partners in Switzerland’s textiles industry.
With its resolute focus on natural fibres, Mover is a pioneer: the vast majority of sportswear manufacturers use synthetic fibres and textiles. “Polyester is lightweight and inexpensive, and is also warm, but it quickly overheats when you sweat,” explains Nicolas Rochat. With Mover’s ski jacket, which is made of very dense cotton, padded with Swiss wool and lined with merino wool, it is possible to carry out a far broader range of strenuous activities before you start to sweat. “Once you’ve worn wool, you’ll never want to wear synthetic clothing again. You feel so much more comfortable in wool.” Natural fibres “breathe”, have heat regulating properties, retain moisture and are also lightweight. They do not need to undergo chemical processes in order to acquire these properties. This means that these textiles can not only be manufactured more ecologically, but are also less problematic to dispose of. And these are significant factors, both today and in the future. Nicolas Rochat is convinced that time is working in his favour. “We’ve travelled a lengthy path and intend to adhere to it,” he says. “All the social, political and economic indicators of the market are pointing in our direction: sustainability.”
There are two main reasons why Nicolas Rochat and Mover courageously adhered to a different path than the other companies in the industry. “Firstly, the fact that I came from outside the fashion industry enabled me to view the options in a different light,” he points out. And secondly, he was born in Vallée de Joux, where leading figures in Switzerland’s watch making industry were originally based and are still active today. “It is widely known that the people from that region are very stubborn and tenacious,” explains the 54-year-old businessman with a smile. “We are determined never to let go of a problem until we’ve found a solution.” The fact that Mover’s ideas have proved to be successful has meanwhile been demonstrated in an impressive manner: at the beginning of 2017 the South African extreme athlete, Mike Horn, became the first person to traverse the South Pole entirely autonomously. He covered a stretch of 5,100 kilometres, enduring temperatures of up to minus 60° Celsius. For this endeavour he wore clothing made by Mover, comprising base layers of merino wool, which kept him constantly warm throughout the entire two-month expedition. Another prominent fan of Mover is the long-distance skipper and extreme sailor, Steve Ravussin, who is currently developing an energy self-sufficient tool for removing plastic waste from the world’s oceans.
We are determined to never let go of a problem until we’ve found a solution.
The development of the Mover collection is taking place in a spacious former Swiss Federal Railways warehouse in the centre of Lausanne. Here, Nicolas Rochat and his team of five colleagues set out to develop new ideas, materials and functions. This is also where Mover’s products are stored, for most of its creations are sold via the company’s own online shop. Rochat prefers to stay away from conventional sportswear outlets so that he can supply his products directly to customers at attractive prices. Selling via intermediaries would make his products more expensive and reduce his margin. The collection is manufactured in Portugal, where Mover works closely together with specialised production companies. In addition to merino wool from Australian sheep, Mover also uses domestic alpaca fleece and high-quality cotton from the USA.
For the development of new, functional textiles from natural fibres, Nicolas Rochat is able to count on a variety of specialised exponents of Switzerland’s textiles industry as essential partners. For example, Mover obtains its high-performance “EtaProof” cotton fabric from Stotz & Co., a company based in Zurich which weaves high-density long-staple fibres. The fleece Mover uses for padding comes from Baur Vliesstoffe, whose owner, Friedrich Baur, is also proprietor of the “Swisswool” brand. Together, these two partners developed a fleece that is normally used in mattresses but is significantly finer and lighter.
Nicolas Rochat is “positively surprised” by the innovative strength of the Swiss textiles industry and its readiness to think “outside the box”. It is thanks to Swiss Textiles that he enjoys a fruitful relationship with the industry. And it is with the aid of this network that Mover is now preparing for its next strategic step. “We are restructuring the company with a view to taking the next step in Mover’s growth,” Rochat reveals. Thanks to a new structure and additional capital, Mover intends to target the international markets and extend its product range, which until now has been limited to skiwear, to include other categories of sportswear. “There are already plenty of good things on the market, but one shouldn’t be afraid to focus on developing even better products,” says Nicolas Rochat.
Mover Sportswear SA is based in Lausanne. It develops, manufactures and sells high-performance sportswear made entirely of natural fibres such as merino wool, alpaca fleece, Swisswool and cotton. It develops its textiles in collaboration with the Swiss textiles industry and its products are manufactured in factories in Portugal. The Mover brand was established in Sweden in 1982, has been domiciled in Switzerland since 2006 and has five employees. Owner and CEO is 54-year-old Nicolas Rochat, who is also a member of the council of the Lausanne University of Art and Design.
Mover Sportswear SA
Rue de Genève 103
Phone +41 (0)21 648 08 08