Cliché Profile

It’s no small feat to earn and maintain credibility in the skateboarding community, especially if you’re removed from the rest of the industry. But Jérémie Daclin has accomplished just that with Cliché-outside California, and even outside America, in a relatively small French city called Lyon. Because of his efforts, Cliché is now an internationally recognized skateboard company.

Before 1997, the name Jérémie Daclin wasn’t on the tip of the average American skateboarder’s tongue. Careful observation would have found his name attached to a part in New Deal’s 1991 video 1281, and some may have even recognized him from Blockhead’s 1990 release, Adventures In Cheese. But over in Europe, Daclin was winning contests and turning heads.

Across the Atlantic, Daclin held the titles of five-time French champion and one-time European champion. He also rode as a pro for Deathbox Skateboards, just before they moved to the States to become Flip in 1997.

Daclin’s first venture into the “other” side of the skateboarding industry was a Lyon-based skate shop called All Access. He started the shop in 1995 and soon boasted a team of well-known French skater J.B. Gillet and street-skating pioneer Mark Gonzales. “Mark was living in Lyon at the time,” explains Daclin.

When Deathbox left, Daclin tried a different approach-he started his own company. Cliché began in 1997 to address what he saw as fundamental problems with skateboarding in France. Demand for European skaters was low, and the professionals weren’t making the same amount as U.S. pros. “The first reason (for Cliché) is that I’ve never made any money in all those years of being a (professional) skateboarder.”

Daclin also felt a company shouldn’t have to move to California for success. “In 1997, only photographers, shops, and distributors were making money (in France). To make a living out of skateboarding, you had to go and live in California, because that’s where all the sponsors were. For me, that was the time to start a brand, so that riders can get paid and live from skateboarding without the obligation to go to California.” As a result, Cliché has become one of the catalysts for a successful European brand and the premier French board company.

“Now I think there are Euro riders who live off of companies all over Europe, and pros who had to settle in California are coming back to Europe,” says Daclin. It’s true-Powell pro Danny Wainwright and The Firm pro Javier Sarmiento are both comfortably living in the UK and Spain, respectively.

Another issue Daclin wanted to address with Cliché was the high cost of skate gear in France. He felt that, due to tariffs and import fees, that prices were too high, both for the French skate shop looking to order boards and the French end-consumer, the skater who eventually bought the board. “Everything was very expensive. With more Euro brands, it slows down the price of goods.”

Avoiding Clichés

When the time came to start his company, Daclin thought long and hard about everything-especially the name. “I was looking for something very different, and with a Euro touch. The name Cliché came to my mind for many reasons. It had an é, and no such letter existed in English, and it was spoken in English, but with a French accent.”

Daclin is also no stranger to the ever-present French influence of the double entendre: “It (Cliché) means two things: a stereotype, and also (in French) a picture. So it was perfect for a name.”

However, the idea of a skateboard company in France first received skepticism and hesitation. “It was something new for the Euro market, as compared to the UK-they were proud to buy UK brands since day one,” explains Daclin. “The (French) consumers were only buying U.S. brands, and it took us a while to make them understand that a Euro brand can be as good as a U.S.ne.”

Eventually, the French-and soon after, European-skaters got behind Cliché and supported local brands. Daclin feels that the increased exposure from Euro skaters over the past few years has helped give Europe the credibility of a legitimate industry. “Now with some good and well-known riders like Arto (Saari) and Florentin (Marfaing), and famous spots like (in) Barcelona, consumers see skateboarding more worldwide and less California-based.”

By helping European skaters through sponsorship or exposure, Daclin has helped himself. “Slowly the market had changed, and in a way it is good for us, because I started with a very low budget, and the market grew with the size of the company.”

In the beginning, Cliché was such a small operation Daclin was able to put his hand in everything. Today, with six years of growth behind it, Daclin still likes to do it all but fortunately has plenty of help: “Before I was doing everything, but now I’m doing nothing. I mean, I’m the one who needs help, so I work on the packing, selling, team managing, and designing products-in fact, I’m always busy.”

Al Boglio is the marketing manager over at Cliché-Daclin’s right-hand man. He and Daclin met up in 2000, and the two hit it off. “Cliche had just come out with its first video (Europa) and was quickly establishing itself as a major player in Europe,” says Boglio. “I met with him (Daclin) in Paris for Glissexpo, and soon after I ended up in Lyon living at ‘Le Squat’ (the Cliché apartment in Lyon) and working for Cliché.”

Three years later, Cliché has maintained its integrity, increased its distribution, and is getting ready to release its next video. “Cliché is now by far the biggest established board company in Europe,” explains Boglio, “with pros from Spain, Germany, Portugal, and France, and we’re in the middle of getting someone from England.”

The Power Of Influence

It may have been difficult at first to gain recognition and credibility as a French skateboard company, but with the release of 2000’s Europa video, Cliché showed the European skate scene, and much of the rest of the world, that French skateboarders were alive-and ripping. “As far as sales, for sure it (Europa) helped a lot-something strong was going on,” says Daclin

It takes dedication and hard work to keep a scene alive. Daclin is bringing recognition to France’s skate scene, and his efforts aren’t going unnoticed: “One day (videographer) Dan Wolfe came to me and told me that I make it (skateboarding in France) possible like he makes it for New York City. I was pleased.”

Now Cliché has teamed up with “French” Fred Mortange to produce its next video. “I secretly dreamed of working for Cliché, but the spot was already taken,” explains Mortange. “It was simply the best deal for me, as I could live and work in my hometown.” Mortange, whose résumé includes groundbreaking videos like éS’ Menikmati and Flip’s Sorry, is looking to try something new, yet again: “We want the video to bring something fresh, so we are working on making it different. It won’t be constructed with the classical video skeleton.”

Truly International

However, Cliché cannot be pigeonholed as simply a “French company.” Both its team and its influence stretch across Europe and beyond. In fact, Europa featured Euro teamriders like Sweden’s Pontus Alv and Spain’s Javier Mendizabal. Cliché’s current roster features skaters from Portugal, Germany, and Australia as well.

“Cliché is accepted well,” says Daclin, “because almost every time we deal with a country, we pick up a rider in relation with the distributor.” This helps to explain why they are constantly finding good skaters all over the globe-one of the latest being Australian upcomer Cale Nuske.

“I knew Al Boglio from before, and he said I could stay at the Cliché house for a month or two,” Nuske explains. “After two days of being in France, I got asked to ride for them-the two months turned into six, and now ‘Le Squat’ is my home for a few months a year.” Nuske also skates for éS footwear and gets flowed from Ricta and Royal-all U.S. companies.

An Australian skater on a French company might seem a little odd, especially as the first non-European skater on the team, but Nuske is quite comfortable. “It’s okay because they all speak a little bit of English, so it’s just enough to communicate,” says Nuske. “Also, I’m here for six months a year now, so that makes me half-French.”

Cliché is distributed throughout Australia by Bulletproof Distribution. When asked how the brand is received in Oz, Nuske says, “Cliché does pretty good in Australia, but I think once the video comes out more people are going to know what it is, and hopefully it will do a lot better.”

Daclin says the addition of Nuske to the team is significant-it makes Cliché a truly international company. “I now consider Cliché a worldwide brand, so we don’t care if he’s from Australia or the U.S.A. He is one of the best new bloods and an amazing person, so he has his place on the team.”

In addition to sweeping across Europe and tapping into the Australian market, Cliché also prospers in the Far East as well: “We are doing good in Japan, because we bring something different. We are seen like Zoo York-not from the same sunny part of the world with the palm trees.”

Cliché is one of the select few companies that both helped create and are at the forefront of European skateboarding. Maintaining a successful company so far from the Southern California hub of the industry is quite an undertaking, but Daclin made it happen, and in doing so, he showed the rest of the world that European skateboarding is not only alive, it’s healthy and growing.

the Cliché house for a month or two,” Nuske explains. “After two days of being in France, I got asked to ride for them-the two months turned into six, and now ‘Le Squat’ is my home for a few months a year.” Nuske also skates for éS footwear and gets flowed from Ricta and Royal-all U.S. companies.

An Australian skater on a French company might seem a little odd, especially as the first non-European skater on the team, but Nuske is quite comfortable. “It’s okay because they all speak a little bit of English, so it’s just enough to communicate,” says Nuske. “Also, I’m here for six months a year now, so that makes me half-French.”

Cliché is distributed throughout Australia by Bulletproof Distribution. When asked how the brand is received in Oz, Nuske says, “Cliché does pretty good in Australia, but I think once the video comes out more people are going to know what it is, and hopefully it will do a lot better.”

Daclin says the addition of Nuske to the team is significant-it makes Cliché a truly international company. “I now consider Cliché a worldwide brand, so we don’t care if he’s from Australia or the U.S.A. He is one of the best new bloods and an amazing person, so he has his place on the team.”

In addition to sweeping across Europe and tapping into the Australian market, Cliché also prospers in the Far East as well: “We are doing good in Japan, because we bring something different. We are seen like Zoo York-not from the same sunny part of the world with the palm trees.”

Cliché is one of the select few companies that both helped create and are at the forefront of European skateboarding. Maintaining a successful company so far from the Southern California hub of the industry is quite an undertaking, but Daclin made it happen, and in doing so, he showed the rest of the world that European skateboarding is not only alive, it’s healthy and growing.