Retail Buyers Guide: Kites 2020
Brand: Airush Kiteboarding
Interviewee: Chereé Thomson, Brand Coordinator
What are the main trends for 2019 in the kite market, in terms of riding styles (freestyle, freeride, foil, wave…) and riding locations (ocean vs lakes, rivers, wave parks)? Where have you seen the biggest growth so far in 2019?
Single Strut kites and those that are chasing the lightest kite on the market, along with the development in foiling, this area has had a lot of growth this year. We will also see some changes and are really excited for the development within the Big Air freeride space, as there have been some adjustments to the GKA formats, which will see the Freestyle space being freshened up.
The lightwind space for sure.
What was successful for you in 2019 in terms of product technology or changes in product you implemented? What is new for your kite construction and design for 2020? Are you implementing new materials in your kite construction for 2020? Are there any trends in terms of design, construction and materials that the entire industry seems to be progressing towards?
We introduced a few new kites in 2019, which have been really well received, like the Union v4, this kite for us has outperformed what we had originally intended. So its good to see the hard work paying off here. And of course the Ultra v2.
Our constructions have stayed very similar with some tweaks here and there in our kite line up, but there is a lot happening within our control systems. We have upgraded the lines and probably one of the most exciting new release is our IQR, a completely redesigned single hand activation and reset Quick Release safety mechanism.
Nope, We stand by our current constructions, and believe that they offer one of the top ranked durability ratings on the market.
The lighter the better, but sometimes it may not be the best for the rider, as lighter materials tend to perish faster. We have found a way to make our kites lighter, without compromising the durability, by incorporating the Airush Load Frame onto all of our premium kites. This allows the kite to be lighter and retain it shape when under serious load.
Are you using any eco materials or environmentally friendly processes in your kite construction?
Not in our kite constructions yet, there is a long way for the industry as a whole to make a change and develop canopy materials that are environmentally friendly. We have found that there are other ways to apply sustainable methods and processes, by vacuum packing our kites, you ship less air. And our kite bags are all made from recycled PET, in partnership with Waste2Wear. We are also partnered with the Thor Heyerdahl climate parks, for each kite or board purchased, we plant and nurture a mangrove tree to maturity within these climate parks.
Aesthetics / Pro Riders
Any stand out new graphics or artwork collaborations? How important is it to your brand to have Pro Models and how much freedom do the pros have in terms of graphics? And in terms of design?
I think each year there will always be some fresh looking product in our ranges, we like to push these boundaries from time to time too. For 2020 we have freshened up or full color pallet, and panel layouts. You will see each collection fits well together, from entry-level progression to our team series which will be releasing later on this year.
We find riders and build product that they (really) want to ride. Generally speaking, we will develop a product around a rider, using them to test and work very closely with the product designers. It is incredibly important to us to have riders who believe in the brand, and be a part of the Collective. In our design process before signing off, we will make sure the full team in on board, from admin to pro riders before we release anything into the market.
How are you helping retailers sell your product and which method of help seems to be the most effective?
In 2017 we introduced a Destination store concept, where the full current range is on show throughout the year, and the key product is available for demo. This allows a customer to experience our products, assisting them with their purchasing decision. We have three Airush Destination Stores in key areas that are incredible kiting destinations, Alex Pastor Kite Club in Tarifa, BKA in Cape Town and 2nd Wind Sports in Hood River, USA. Apart from hosting big product launches at each of the stores, that are open to the end customer to meet the team behind the brand, Clinton Filen, the Airush Brand Director will head to all of our key markets at least once a year and go visit the stores and see what’s happening on the ground. The hands-on approach definitely helps, as well as riders doing store visits when they are in the area.
Tell us about your 2 key products for 2020 and why you think they will be great sellers
We have recently launched the Lithium v11, (which in the past few years was referred to as the worlds favorite freeride kite by leading magazines,) it is time to give it a bit of an upgrade, so we did just. That, updated a few key areas on the kite to improve the high end performance. This kite traditionally has been a top seller, and we hope it continues on with that legacy. Another key kite would be the Razor, which is only releasing later this year with the Ultra v3, but the Razor has also had a shape redesign in the smaller sizes which will be exceptional for the new GKA formats, the prototypes have already given us a few podium positions. We are really excited for whats to come in 2020!