Interviewee: John Westlake – Production director.
How has your winter wetsuits segment evolved since last winter ? What are major changes in terms of products, categories and SKU?
Back zip styles have made a comeback for lady & men. The Reflex and Drifter styles are easy to get into with a great fit for those not wishing to go for a chest zip.
Is the demand for frigid waters’ wetsuits still growing ?
Yes, we are seeing good sales in Ireland and Scotland not just for wetsuits but for the thicker neoprene accessories.
Which new trends do you see on the 2017/18 wetsuits market ?
Colour! It’s really exciting to see a wider acceptance of new colours throughout the range.
How have price points evolved and what are the main price hot spots?
Very little change in the prices of wetsuits for this winter but higher spec in each segment. Most popular styles are Stealth and Reflex.
Regarding the rubber specifically (neoprene or not) any major improvements ?
In our higher spec suits like Evo Fire and Luxe we are using more higher quality foam which is Lime stone based. The foam is incredibly soft but with a great memory.
Tell us a bit more about the linings’ benefits of your wetsuits ?
The job of any inside lining is to hold as much air and as little water against your skin as possible while maintain excellent stretch. Alder “FDL” is great at achieving this goal because it has a high “pile” of Polypropylene material trapping air when dry and holding minimal amounts of water when wet.
What’s new in terms of fit and panel construction ?
The fit and feel of our knee pads have improved a lot due to new foam and nylon. It’s a small detail but surfers bend their knees a lot so high flexibility is important.
Please list some of the best selling arguments for a wetsuit ?
Good arguments for selling Alder wetsuits are; The high margin we offer retailers.
High spec for price compared our competitors, Good stocks during season and quality construction.
Please take us through three key products that retailers should put on their order sheets. “Stealth” is a great entry level style, simple back zip for all genders & age, “Reflex” is your classic mid price suit, comes in chest or back zip, simple design with important spec details like FDL, “Evo Fire” for guys who expect high end detail like FDL & Sealed seams.
Is eco-friendliness an issue for you and how do you approach it?
Yes, 90% of the neoprene we use is Limestone based and the glues used is safer and more eco-friendly than before. There are more improvements for the environment coming but they are proving to be slow and difficult.