Retail Buyers Guide: Impact Vests 2020
Brand: O’NEILL WETSUITS
Interviewee: Tom Copsey, Product Manager
Are you designing crash jackets for a wake market segment? Or is the same design being sold over the whole market. Which market is giving you the most growth? Which market is giving you the most direction in terms of the design and look of your crash jackets?
Our vest line is designed to offer a number of alternative styles, using various materials and levels of protection. Some boat riders may want a lot more protection than others based on their riding style, and the same applies to cable riders. No one vest style is perfect for all riders.
What style is your brand aiming for, what is the process of determining what your crash jackets look like?
O’Neill always approaches vest design with performance and fit in mind first and foremost. All our vests share materials, prints and colors with our wetsuit line up so you can always find something that looks unique with the majority of vests being reversible to switch up your style.
What trends are you seeing in terms of fit, feel and protection in your crash jackets. What do you think your customers want and what has worked well for you in terms or fit, feel, protection? For example, do end users want a thicker more protected crash jacket at a wake park (as they fall onto solid features at 20mph) or do people want as flexible as possible?
Whether travelling fast behind a boat or hitting something solid in a cable park it’s personal preference, some prefer a thin and more flexible choice while others may prefer thicker with side impact protection, so this is why we design for both and everything in between.
Also, there are many vests in the market now which put fashion before function, but they tend to be heavy, especially when wet. O’Neill will always focus first on performance to keep you on the water longer.
What technology or materials are you using in your crash jackets to give you a unique selling point?
All our impact vests feature NytroLite Foam Technology which is stronger, absorbs 20% less water and is 3x lighter than conventional PVC foam. This allows for a super light, minimal bulk design with maximum impact protection.
How do your team riders influence your soft good offering? Do they have signature soft goods, do they help with design, do they suggest ideas to you?
When it comes to vest development, our team riders are involved in the design and testing process from the first prototype to the finished product. Riders like Gunther Oka, Nico von Lerchenfeld and Maryh Rougier are not only some of the best in their sport, they also care about the performance, fit and look of the products they are wearing.
Please name and describe your 3 highlight pieces and items that retailers should definitely order.
The Hyperfreak Comp Vest, Slasher Comp Vest & Outlaw Comp Vest for men. For women it’s the Women’s Slasher Comp vest and the Bahia Comp Vest.