This week Paddy Pallin is continuing our Q&A’s with folk in the Outdoor Industry by chatting to one of our own.

Claudia plays the vital role of Paddy Pallins Purchasing Coordinator and is the person to thank for all of the amazing clothing you see in our stores. While not in the office or visiting the brands to choose what will be on the racks in 6-12 months time she is one of the most active members of staff at our head office regularly hiking, swimming, yoga, climbing and mountaineering.

But that’s enough from me, over to you Claudia!!

Hi Claudia, can you tell us a little about yourself, what was your journey, how you found yourself at Paddy Pallin and your role?

Ha, do you want the long or the short version?

I’ve been in product development in the apparel industry for the last 20 years and have always enjoyed creating functional wear most. My background is in work/corporate apparel & protection wear so it was only a small step into outdoors apparel. So even though, as the buyer at Paddy Pallin, I don’t do any actual development anymore, I still look at everything with my developer’s eyes.

Sometimes I refer to myself as a ‘lolly shopper’ because I get to see and choose all the best garments of all the best brands. And I can combine the job with my passion and get to field test product on my adventures!

So how do you choose what you range for Paddy Pallin?

As mentioned, I get to see all the new ranges of our suppliers and put a shortlist of the best product into a matrix with reference to type of garment, specifications, price, colour, etc

Once I have an overview of what’s on offer, I have to start culling so that each season we can offer a range of products in each category at the best value to give our customers a choice for their budget.

Apart from being passionate about experiencing the outdoors myself, I’m equally passionate about other women doing the same. It’s such a male orientated industry but I’m seeing changes happening and suppliers increasingly catering for us girls too.

Functionality is obviously paramount, but style is important too. So that’s why I try on every tank top that I shortlist and do a quick handstand in it to see if it really can be used for eg yoga or acroyoga before it even makes it onto my matrix!

What are your favourite activities?

Obviously I love my mountains / alpine adventures / snowboarding, but you don’t get to do that every day of the week… So I keep myself fit with swimming, yoga, walks, rock climbing, lately some acroyoga which is heaps of fun! I love how Australia has 50mtr outdoor pools everywhere – yum!

McCoy Glacier icefall with Garden of Eden Glacier beyond, Canterbury, NZ

Do you remember your first outdoor experience?

Hmm, not really. I grew up in the countryside of Switzerland, so I got dragged up mountains every weekend by my parents from a very early age – always bribed with an ice cream at the restaurant at the top of the mountain. Or if we didn’t go up mountains we’d be swimming in the lake / kayaking or letting off steam outdoors.

Funny thing is, I didn’t like walking up mountains as a kid. But then you move out of home and go partying for a few years and at some stage you find yourself getting back into the mountains at your own desire because that’s what makes you feel good.

Where is your favourite hiking, boarding, travelling & climbing spots?

Where to start… I love the Alps in Switzerland and the Southern Alps in New Zealand. I think I’m the happiest going off track across glaciers and snow or generally alpine vastness where you encounter nothing but the occasional trail of an animal. Or I’ve also learnt to love river crossings and getting my feet wet – that’s my Kiwi side emerging.

Skiing/boarding – obviously Switzerland is good but I’ve had some amazing off piste runs on NZ club fields too.

Winter getaway – can highly recommend cycling around Savai’i in Samoa and snorkelling. It’s off the beaten track, but still well catered for independent visitors.

Also absolutely loved my visits to China and getting to know the people and their culture.

Braunwald, Canton Glarus, Switzerland – hunting for the remains of the spring snow.

Tell us, where is your dream hiking, boarding, travelling & climbing location is?

Not sure what my ‘dream’ location is, but on my bucket list is a trip to Japan to go check out the traditional architecture & culture and go hiking in mainland mountains followed by some snorkelling on the southern tip of the island. Have also been told the Shikoku Island temple pilgrimage is amazing.

Why do you love hiking, boarding, travelling & climbing so much?

It makes me happy 🙂 and keeps me motivated to be fit and eat healthy on a daily basis.

What is the current relevance of Paddy Pallin for Australian hikers, skiers & travellers?

I guess we don’t just cater for Australians in Australia, but we try to offer a comprehensive gear / apparel assortment for any activity ranging from Australian bush walking to Himalayan/South American/African trekking to Antarctic cruises or European urban exploring. This means we offer summer and winter gear all year round to cater for adventures anywhere in the world at any time of the year.

McCoy Col, Canterbury, NZ

How much does the Paddy Pallin ‘brand’ enter your purchasing/ranging decisions? How different would your purchasing/ranging be if you were designing for yourself rather than for Paddy Pallin?

It wouldn’t differ much. I can pretty much find everything within what we see and range. I’ve been looking for a women’s LW fleece hoody for a couple of years now to replace my 15 year old one that’s looking pretty munted and I have finally found it in the RAB range being released in our Summer 2017 🙂  Brands are definitely catching on to the fact that girls like the Wild too and want to be seen in everything but pink.

How does Paddy Pallin continue to resist the pull towards almost every other generic outdoor store?

We are very conscious of value at PP. I spend a lot of time weighing up specs against price when making ranging decisions. We don’t buy into the whole high/low price strategy of other outdoor brands (no names, ok?!), so what you see in our stores is the best price for actual specs – which usually equals what ‘other’ stores offer when they are on a heavy discount.

Who sets the purchasing/ranging briefs? Do Paddy Pallin staff or customers guide your efforts?

I don’t really get a brief except that it has to be a range for every budget at best value. And I always listen to other staff re what they have trialled or what they feel customers are looking for. We have a very open door policy at PP so the team is usually very forthcoming with suggestions which is great! The only constraint I have is to fit within our store footprint as to how much product I can show.

Heading up to Lake Otuhie, West Coast of NZ South Island

There is an obvious industry trend towards making lighter weight clothing. How do you think this impacts durability & is it possible to satisfy both requirements?

Yip, this is definitely true and each customer has to make their own decision for what purpose they will use the gear for. But the good thing is that we try to provide the sturdy gear next to the ULW (ultralight weight) to give that choice. Also keep an eye out for Hybrid constructions where LW is combined with hard wearing in places where it’s needed.

How do you see the future unfolding for Australian outdoor equipment bricks and mortar stores selling in Australia, online stores and the global market?

PP is super focused on keeping within the global pricing. Over the years we have put a lot of pressure on the brands we represent to give Australia the same prices as overseas, so our customers don’t feel like they are being disadvantaged if they buy from us.

Dams Cliff, Blue Mountains, NSW

What product are you most excited about for this winter?

Rab Men’s Zero G Jkt with 1000 loft – it stands out visually as well as functionally.

The North Face Men’s Apex Flex GTX Disruptor Parka – a sleek bonded waterproof Gore-Tex softshell construction

Top 3 tips for new hikiers, boarders, travellers & climbers 

  1. Follow your passion that makes you happy.
  2. Pencil time in your diary for your adventures and decide closer to the time what to do.
  3. And even if you can’t afford the top gear, don’t let it stop you!

Top 3 pieces of equipment you always take with you?

  1. Arc’teryx Beta LT Hybrid Shell
  2. The North Face Thermoball Hoody
  3. Rab Power Stretch Hoody – trialling for next season
  4. Rab Flux ¼ zip top and bottoms for the hut/campsite
  5. Icebreaker next to Oasis next to skin layers (which I wear as outer layers in summer) & Icebreaker socks

I know that’s more than 3 but that’s what covers me when I go alpine.

Cheers Claudia & thanks for your time.

James, Claudia & Chris from the head office enjoying some Blue Mountains Canyon action

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.