Retail Buyers Guide: Wetsuits SS17 Trend Report
BRAND: RIP CURL
INTERVIEWEE: Borja Torres (European Wetsuit Product Manager)
Firstly, can you tell us about how your spring/summer wetsuits line is evolving compared to your traditional fall/winter one? (percentage)
Our Spring-Summer line is divided in two parts, long sleeve steamers which are all carryovers from Fall-Winter and then Springsuits which is a totally new range compared with SS16.
I would say that 60% are springsuits and 40% steamers.
Regarding neoprene material, tell us about the characteristics and specific objectives of a summer wetsuit..
In summer, because the water is warmer people don’t look as much for glued blind stitch and taped suits as in winter. So we keep GB stitching and E4 neoprene in our Ultimate suits for those ones who want the best summer suit, and then use E-stitching (stitch that stretches with the neoprene) and freeflex neoprene in our middle range for the people that are looking for a proper summer suit.
How do you make sure it’s strong enough to last?
Rip Curl has a testing program set in place where around a hundred riders from different regions try all new materials or any innovations before we put it in the market, that allow us to know if there is any issues with it before launching it.
Design-wise, how is the panel construction designed for comfort? How are you working to make your seams are resistant and stretchy?
Action panels are key in a wetsuit, they need to be designed to perform and aren’t there just to look cool (although the suit still needs to look cool!). We launched a new zip-free entry system for FW16 that is now being used for all Ultimate springsuits in SS17 range. This is the most comfortable suit we have ever made.
Regarding seams, as I said before, we are using E-stitch technology. This is a type of stitch which is more resistant than a normal flatlock but is 50% more stretchy. It works like a telephone cable so stretches with the neoprene when you pull it.
What’s the role of the lining in your wetsuits? What are its most important features during the summer?
We obviously use our quick dry flash-lining in our summer steamers but not in the spring suits. In summer people mind less about putting on a wet wetsuit, what they want is lightness and stretch.
In terms of style, which colours and patterns are the most popular for SS17?
Europe is really diverse and we need to please a few markets so we are trying to have subtle colours for northern countries and add more brightness for the south. Sublimated panels have also been really well accepted for the last two seasons, so we’ll keep pushing there.
You can find jackets that match boardshorts, bombshells matching our swimwear and accessories, etc….
In terms of price, which demographics/levels do you address here?
Our range is quite wide and anyone can find a wetsuit to suit them. Rip Curl’s strategy is to have first, the best wetsuits in the market, and then look at the price. We obviously have some entry level wetsuits but don’t want to have the cheapest in the market and sacrifice the quality, that’s not our policy.
In steamers (3/2) you can go from €440 for a Flashbomb Chest zip to €140€for an Omega back zip. In between you have another 6 wetsuits
If we talk about spring suits you go from the Ebomb Zip free at €180 to the Omega back zip at €80, having another 5 suits in between.
Tell us a bit more about the unique benefits and high-end details of your wetsuits.
Our Ebomb zip free spring suit is our pinnacle suit. It’s made at 100% with E4 neoprene, the stretchiest in the market, glued blind stitches for more warmth and new zip-free entry system for maximum comfort. It is so easy to put on and take off! It has a honeycomb hand feel with E4 neoprene in action panels and a sublimated arm panel for a cool look – definitely the wetsuit to wear next summer!
What are your 3 key products in this category for SS17?
Men’s Ebomb zip free spring suit
Men’s Aggrolite chest zip spring suit
Girls Maddi L/S boyleg spring suit