BRAND: WEST SURFING
INTERVIEWEE: JACKSON AND PATRICK LEAHY DESIGNERS, WEST EUROPE.
How has your winter wetsuits segment evolved since last winter? What are major changes in terms of products, categories and SKU?
For 2017 we have had a complete overhaul across all models and styles. We reviewed our past 35 years of work, and with great affection, bought back our vintage logo while upgrading all models, complete with all new fabrications and cutlines with the primary focus on comfort warmth and performance.
Is the demand for frigid waters’ wetsuits still growing?
Without question. The market in Europe with such harsh cold climates and a core surf sense demand suits that feed and nurture their hunger for surfing and no limits. Our motto has always been “there is no such thing as cold water, Just bad wetsuits”. Our designs are purposely built for surfers to stay in the water for longer in complete comfort.
We have introduced a technical combination that no one on the market has done by using both PTT (PYRO THERMIC TECHNOLOGY) and GEN-5 PPF (POLY PYRO FIBRE) which not only provide oven like warmth but also allows complete freedom of movement and function.
Which new trends do you see on the 2017/18 wetsuits market?
The main trend we have noticed is simplified cut lines, and minimal logos, which we have welcomed. Despite this incurring an added cost of fabric yield at manufacturing but we are firm on holding our prices, and not increasing the cost to the buyer.
The beauty of this means we have a cleaner/simpler looking suit with enhanced stretch and flexibility which all our riders are enjoying.
How have price points evolved and what are the main price hot spots?
As I have previously mentioned – we are holding our prices and not increasing price points even with a stronger currency pressure.
Regarding the rubber specifically (neoprene or not) any major improvements?
Yes, the neoprene foam has improved features of Thermal insulation, more stretch and flex, and less weight. WEST embraced lime stone based neoprene, from the very earliest concepts, and since has never compromised. The closed cell content and thicker wall structure of the foam also benefits lower water absorption. We are also introducing Tree – Prene for the Eco Lotus.
Tell us a bit more about the linings’ benefits of your wetsuits?
PTT – PYRO THERMIC TECHNOLOGY – is a quick dry hydro phobic, and wicking thermal lining, providing ultra warmth and comfort to the body, with its hi profile plush texture.
GEN – 5 PPF – POLY PRO FIBRE – is a lightweight thermal insulate jersey with a lower profile that the the PTT, but still has wicking properties, while maintaining the bodys core temperature.
What’s new in terms of fit and panel construction?
During our design process we study all key areas of movement and stress and which areas need optimal stretch and function, when surfing in extreme conditions, focus is on reducing the resistance of the suit. This includes ensuring all cutlines are sympathetic to the ergonomic range of movement of the arms, core and knees.
Please list some of the best selling arguments for a wetsuit?
No.1 Durability – Over 30 years of making suits, our return rate is 1%. West were and still are one of the few makers that have a warranty which is valid for 1 year after purchase on workmanship and seams. We pride ourselves on how few genuine returns of West suits.
No.2 – fit – With the advent of such beautiful stretch fabrics, it could be easy to compromise fit – we offer over 12 different fit sizes for men.
No.3 – Warmth – The very reason to keep you in the water for longer in supreme comfort and protection.
Please take us through three key products that retailers should put on their order sheets.
Is eco-friendliness an issue for you and how do you approach it?
For over 30 years, West has always prided itself on being eco conscious and alternate thinkers, since the beginning and this is a trait we follow through with to this day- From only using lime stone based neoprene across our whole range, the re introduction of the LOTUS ECO when we use NATURPRENE – TREE PRENE, derived naturally from sustainable rubber plantations, water based glue, For insulation we use PPT which is made from recycled water bottles.
We are also very excited to announce that we are using brand new innovations for the high performance nylon and jersey, laminated to the foam. This dope method, which is darker in Black so we named it Black Hole, possesses better hand feel. This feels much softer.
This process uses dope dyed yarn so the colour fastness in number second to none and there is so no need to go through the dyeing process which saves the water consumption in the dyeing process. This is THE most environmentally friendly technique to use and is BRAND NEW to the market. Possessing all the advantages of our previous quality, but the beauty is, the price is the same!
Our packaging is a starch bag, which is also lighter to transport. Our printing and dyeing methods we endorse, save the planet millions of litres of water each year. Even our bootie box is recyclable and uses eco friendly printable inks. We care. Always have, always will.