The company was established in 1997 by French professional skateboarder Jeremie Daclin and initially found a niche sponsoring European professional skateboarders. Already a well known local skater in Lyon, Daclin decided to produce equipment to suit the styles of his friends and fellow Lyonnais. Daclin explained in 2012 that he had been travelling a lot as a professional skateboarder and, after filming a video with the American company New Deal, he moved to the Deathbox team (now Flip Skateboards) to be involved with a brand that was more local. However, Deathbox then relocated to the US and Daclin declined the invitation to join the move, stating that he would try to develop his own brand in France. Daclin's vision for Cliché was based on three elements: photography, Europe and all types of skateboarding.
Former Australian professional skateboarder Al Boglio was recruited by Daclin as a "right-hand man" after the brand achieved initial success. Eric Frenay was recruited by Daclin as the brand's Creative Director and Frenay explained his history with Daclin in a 2012 interview: "Being in Lyon, I knew Jeremie for a long time and he was kind of, we called him "The Master" at the time because he was so good, you know, the European Championship and everything. Then he opened up All Access ... when he launched Cliché it was like a big, big bet."
The first Cliché video Europa was released in 2000 and featured Spanish skateboarder Javier Mendizabel and French skateboarders JJ Rousseau, Vincent Bressol and Nicolas Caron. French professional skateboarder Lucas Puig, who was unable to speak English during his early years with the company, then joined the team through Rousseau. Puig was 14 years of age when he first joined the team on a tour—Daclin started sending him skateboard decks after the tour and later officially recruited Puig. Cliché was purchased by the France-based Salomon Group in 2001.
Cale Nuske was the company's first Australian skateboarder and he joined the team after the release of the Europa video. Nuske's initial video footage formed the opening part in the 2003 Bon Appetit video and he was named by SLAM magazine as the 2004 Australian "Skater of the Year". Another Australian, Andrew Brophy, was later sponsored by the company in 2005, when he was 19 years of age, and he also won the SLAM award in 2009. Brophy explained in October 2013 that his early period with the brand was affected by his partying lifestyle in London, UK, but he attained greater focus after a conversation with Boglio. Also in 2005, the company's first-ever American team member, Joey Brezinski, began his relationship with Cliché.
Salomon Group became part of Amer Sports International in 2005. In 2009, US-based Dwindle Distribution purchased the company from the Salomon Group, with Cliché representatives acknowledging that the brand had been a difficult fit with the snow boarding-focused Amer Sports.