Once again, another trophy for European Brand of the Year, and now a trophy for short clip of the year for No Complies, Wallrides and Shuvits. Did you get charged for overweight baggage on your flight home?
No I’m going to get them shipped. Last time we won, we got the trophies right away and we put them on the floor, under the seat, and then it broke the top of the trophies. So I had to glue them together when I got home. So I decided this time it’s better to leave them at the party and have them shipped.
You’ve won twice now; do you think you’ll win European Brand of the Year again?
We didn’t really do too much in my opinion in 2013. I mean we did Trocadero Days with Converse and had the No Complies clip, but I feel as if we kept it pretty low profile. So I was a bit surprised when we won; I didn’t think it would happen. I was thinking Magenta would take it for their video and all their clips or Cliché for all they’ve done for Europe for all these years. Can we win again? I think it’s possible, I mean this year we’ve got some really dangerous stuff coming out, so we’ll see.
Why do you think people have responded to the brand so well?
Good question, um, I think we put in a lot of work on the graphics, ads and all the things we do. I think Polar has a quite original vibe to it that maybe people maybe haven’t seen before. I mean, I’m not saying it’s all original, but parts of it, like the graphics, we try and keep it really original.
I think Polar as a brand is really well rounded. We have all types of skaters in there, like Aaron from New York, a really East Coast-style skater, then a guy like Hjalte, a really tech and powerful skater, a weirdo like Kevin, and then we have Oski and David pretty much just killing every demo and contest – anywhere they go, people are blown away by their transition skills. I don’t want to be a brand that represents only one type of skating; I want Polar to represent all types of skating from tranny, to creative street-skating, to tech skating, to big hammers because I love it all. And that’s why I think everyone can find something they can connect to in Polar.
Do you think Polar has had a noticeable influence on Europe’s skate scene? How about worldwide?
I mean, of course. Personally that’s been my mission since I quit Cliché and started doing my own film projects and my projects with the skate scene of Malmö. My whole idea for this brand is that I want to inspire artists to inspire themselves – that’s kind of like my rules to live by. I think that is the main point, we are not just a brand that wants to present: ‘Oh here’s these guys, here’s these products, buy our shit because we’re cool.’ We want to show ways for people to be inspired though artwork, maybe photography, films, building your own skateparks and skate spots. We really want to show a way for skaters to be inspired; I think that’s important as a brand. All these people are always talking about giving back to the scene and it’s hard to do it, but we try our best to try and inspire people and hopefully their creativity shines through.
A good example is these Happy/Sad socks we’ve done. First it started with my shoes, then Polar made socks and it’s good to see people wearing them all around the world on Instagram. We just want to inspire people and try to bring out good shit for skaters to be stoked on and try and keep the culture rich and alive.
[part title="Pontus ITW part 2"]
Going back a bit, at what point did you decide to start stop riding for other brands and start up Polar?
It’s a long story, but basically it all started when I was riding for Cliché and being in America where you are part of a company and I just felt that my visions and my ideas could not really exist within those brands I was skating for. I had all these feelings and ideas - it started with photography, then film works, and then doing skate projects like building stuff, then I made those two films. Then all of a sudden, after doing all these creative things I had a fan base. During those ten years when I was working on the Malmö scene and making films I was really isolated from the industry. But then of course at some point I was just looking at the industry and I thought it was really dry. And I think that’s what Lev felt with Palace and Vivien with Magenta. So instead of sitting around and just complaining about everything I decided to make my own brand. It was mostly to prove to myself that I, together with my team, could make something that people would be stoked on. It was scary, but I just went for it and I could never really have expected what happened so fast and so quickly. It became like a global thing and we haven’t even been around for three years yet. Polar will be three years old in May.
Tell us a bit about your work ethic, your daily routine….
I go to the office everyday, I try to get there somewhere between nine and ten. And then just try and do everything from graphics, to ads, to sales and also production. I’m just trying to do everything possible that you can even think of that needs to be done. I work six days a week; I try to have Saturdays off. Sometimes I work at night because I have meetings with Japan, Australia, New Zealand or whatever. So yeah, basically I’m always working. It’s been a crazy year so right now I’m trying to hire some people to help me do things so that I can try to have a normal life again.
Right now, aside from Aaron Herrington, all the Polar riders are European. Do you aim to hook up more international guys from say Japan, Australia, Canada, etc.?
At the moment, Aaron is the only official non-European on the team, but we have a bunch of flow riders. There are a couple guys in the states we are working with and a guy in Japan that might get on.
Do a lot of people hit you up trying to get on Polar?
Yeah, loads of kids with YouTube clips. But there have been some big names and some semi-big names, but right now we are nine guys officially so it’s more than enough. So if we add anyone they have to be super super original or super original and a big name. So we’ll see, I’m not stressing at all – we have a video ready to be edited and I think that’s really gonna show some different shit.
So when’s that coming out?
I don’t know, I’m going to start working on it in February, so whenever it’s done it is done. Michał Juras just started skating again from an injury so I want to get some tricks of him in there. This video is going to be focused around two or three guys and the other guys will be around and there will be some collages too rather than parts. It’s going to be like 20 minutes long.
Do you have plans to make a full-length video at all?
I mean I could make this next one 40 minutes. But looking at these days I’m into quick hits. I’m into 15-second Instagram clips. It’s cool to see what you can fit in 15 seconds. I wanna keep it short and tight.
Would you ever be open to do any collaborations with other brands?
Yes, this year there will be a collab with Converse and another one with Carhartt. For me these collaborations make sense because I know Neil (Chester) from Cons and I know Bertrand (Trichet). I’ve been riding for Carhartt for 12 years and half the team rides for Converse so it’s logical to do this. Those guys are my friends so of course I want to work with them. We get hit up by a bunch of brands, but I always say no because ‘why should I do a collaboration with someone I don’t know?’. I just want to do these kinds of things if there is a natural link, not just a collaboration with whomever.
Will there ever be another Polar x Palace tour or maybe a Polar x Magenta tour?
I like both of those guys; they are my friends. Yeah well we did one tour two years ago with Palace, which was fun, they came here and we had a good time. I always think it’s fun to go on the road with those guys; I’m always down hit the road with good friends. It’s not something we have planned again in the future, but if they are in town or we are in town or if we hear ‘Oh Palace is going to New York’ and if we are there the same time we would try to link up and do a demo or whatever.
What do you have planned for 2014?
There is a bunch of new products coming out; we are working on a bunch of new stuff. And of course the collaborations with Carhartt and Converse are coming out this year. The main focus is to get our new mini full-length out. It’s a mini full-length; it’s longer than a promo, but not as long as a full-length. But I need time to edit it, that’s why I’ve been working so hard the past few months. I wanna get stuff done so I have time to start editing. It’s the main priority, that’s what everyone’s been working on for the past year and a half.
But yeah, I have a bunch of ideas. This year will be the ‘year of film’ I call it. I have a lot of film ideas this year. After the mini full-length I have an idea to do a film with David and Oski – kind of something like Tim & Henry’s but instead of curb skating, have it in transition parks all over the world and then have the street guys involved in a short section. And then I have a lot of other film ideas; that’s my main passion, I love it. I love travelling with the guys, filming, meeting people, collecting footage and hitting spots; I mean that’s the main fun about this whole thing. It’s not fun to sit in an office and sign t-shirts. I haven’t gotten a chance to skate much lately, so this year my goal is to be on the streets skating and building a lot more things.
Cheers Pontus, thanks for all the inspiration.
Web Gallery with extra photos here: