Interviewee: Mattia Berardi (Product Line Manager – Snow Helmets)
What are the main trends in the helmet market for action sports in FW18/19?
In terms of safety, addressing rotational energies seems to stay the main focus in helmets industry this year. Indeed, the adoption of MIPS is broader and broader across all brands. In parallel, some other brands are having a shot at coming up with their own technology against rotational energies. For Giro, 18/19 is a great year to illustrate this trend, as we keep evolving our partnership with MIPS by both offering it in all of our in-line models, as well as bringing to a broader market our own version of MIPS, developed by Giro in partnership with MIPS: MIPS Spherical. We were offering MIPS Spherical in the Avance MIPS, our super High-End Alpine Racing helmet, since 16/17. But this year, we are bringing MIPS Spherical into our new ultimate freestyle helmet, the Emerge MIPS. It is very exciting to think that those 2 categories of riders, very different but both in need of the best performing products, can now wear our MIPS Spherical models.
Will you release any new models? If yes, what are their main features?
Yes. 18/19 is actually a pretty important year for the Giro Snow helmets line. We are releasing three new products that are redefining the core of our line, designed for freestyle, backcountry and freeride core riders:
EMERGE MIPS: this is our new ultimate freestyle helmet, featuring D2 dual density EPP construction and MIPS Spherical to match the needs of our freestyle team. Additional features include a Stash-Fit system, which is a pocket in the liner where one can drop different thicknesses foam patches to optimize the fit of the helmet. Additionally, for riders who want to wear the goggles under the helmet, a Strap Channel has been carved in the EPP liner to maximize the fit and comfort of that set up as well.
JACKSON MIPS (unisex) and TERRA MIPS (women): For this model, we focused on design and style, to bring to market a clean, low-profile, lightweight and comfortable helmet that looks different than anything out there. We achieved this by mixing a very minimal industrial design, with details and finishes to elevate the product as a whole; things like knit fabric on the ear pads, similar to what one can find on sneakers, silicon strips on the webbing to create a different touch and feel, or very fine PC trim line and jewels in the vents to pop or not according to the colour way and the desired effect. The vents shape on this helmet are unique and different from what we have done until now, creating a new aesthetic for us.
TRIG MIPS: The Trig MIPS is our new hard shell helmet, featuring an in-form fit system, a little brim for style and goggle integration and a sliding vent system. Overall, it is a very good value proposition, and offers a different style in our line, thanks to the brim.
Any new technologies or other innovations?
Although it is not really new, the fact that we are now offering MIPS Spherical in a more commercial model is a big step forward in terms of technology. As a reminder, MIPS Spherical was designed in house at Giro, in partnership with MIPS. Instead of having a low-friction liner inside the EPS liner, MIPS Spherical features an EPP liner that is split in two parts: the inner liner will rotate inside the outer liner in the event of impact. The design is based on the ball and socket principle, which means that the surfaces that slide over another are spherical.
Overall, this design is very efficient, simpler and provides better performance. This is a major new technology and a big story for our brand. It is the evolution of our partnership with MIPS.
What materials are you working with? Anything new to talk about?
Our most exciting new material is the Knit fabric we are using on ear pads. There are some performance benefits, like lightweight, better hearing, easiness to manage fabric (no scraps). But the main advantage is a cool and new look on the helmet, with a fabric that reminds of the coolest sneakers in the world, as well as our new cycling shoes models.
When it comes to design, colours & patterns – what are the main trends in your FW collection?
Our process on the graphics side of the line, is to design colour ways according to different things we like at Giro, as we believe that interests, cultures and aspirations in our customer base can be very wide and different. We want to have enough options in our line to define different style endeavours; as long as they are aligned with what we like and believe is beautiful. This year, our graphic line comprises of 4 main stories, with several different graphics per story;
ARENA: This is our more performance oriented, technical story. It will resonate more with riders who are attracted by the technical side of the sport, e.g. wearing Arc’Teryx or Mammut Outerwear for example. The colour palette includes some basic colours like our light grey, popped with more bright colours, like for example our new bright blue this year: glacier. In terms of materials, we like to play with things that feel and look technical, like TPU, ballistic fabric, rip-sop, knit fabric…
OUTDOOR CLASSICS: Our Outdoor Classics story relates more to the outdoor world, as its name indicates it. It will feature more earth tones colours, like our new Dark Red or Midnight. It can also have a more retro/vintage look according to the different graphics. This story will resonate more with people into brands like for example Poler, Patagonia or Topo Design. In terms of materials, we are trying to create a warmer feel with heather and suede among others.
MOROCKIN’: Each year, our graphics team goes on a trip to get inspired and define general directions for the line. This year, they went to Morocco. Although the inspiration they got from that trip can be found all through the line, the Morockin’ story is the one with the most direct inspiration from their trip. In terms of colours and materials, it can look close to what is found in the outdoor classics story. But the patterns are unique and definitely offer some kind of oriental feel to the story. The overall feel is elevated and feels richer, thanks to materials that can remind us of the morocco culture like leather or wool for example.
NATURAL RHYTHM: For this story, our designers express things that they observe in nature with their own spin and perspective on it. It creates unique patterns that offer an elegant organic feel, or as a reminder of pieces that can be seen more in the street or fashion world. Nature has a broad definition in this case, as it can go from flowers to broken computer screens.
How are you addressing goggle compatibility and audio integration?
As one of the major goggles brand in the world as well, we work hard to offer a perfect fit and seamless compatibility between all our helmets and goggles models. We go beyond this, making sure that our helmets fit with most of the goggles on the market. This is achieved through extensive testing and fit studies in house with all the most common models on the market.
In terms of audio integration, we partner with Outdoor Tech and are offering chips that can be dropped in the ear pads of all our in-line models.