Prolimit Wetsuits F/W 23/24 Preview
Retail Buyers Guide: Wetsuits F/W 2023/24 Retail Buyer‘s Guide
Interviewee: Alex Cretier, General manager
Already an expensive piece of the surfer’s kit, the winter steamer took a hit with the rise of material/shipping costs. How much of a rise of RRPs are we talking about for FW23? How do you justify the rise in retailers & customers?
Anyone who wants to tell something about the future must know the past. Inflation is of all times and in this we are enormously behind in wetsuits. Is that bad, no, but important to realize. If you bought a wetsuit 30 years ago for DM 549 (€ 275), you can now buy a much better wetsuit, with much more stretch and warmth for € 379. In the same era, if you bought a VW Golf you paid €8,500, now a Golf costs €36,000. A factor of 4 compared to before. The same wetsuit you buy now should actually be charged by factor 4 as well. So Euro 1099. Still the better wetsuits can be bought under Euro 500 and even Euro 400. So we can safely say that the perception is that wetsuits are indeed getting more expensive but still relatively cheap!
Best not to get caught up at the moment and look at the context a bit more broadly.
To then answer the price question. While the dollar has become 20% more expensive and raw materials have risen 8% and the pound has been hit extra hard in value, the price increase in our suits is around 10%. Both our dealers and the brand are partially absorbing the price increases.
On the one hand, surfers are now keen on wearing hooded wetsuits for the coldest days, and on the other hand, the “4/3 with more 3 than 4” are on the rise for extended mild autumns these days. How do you handle those new habits?
Prolimit wetsuits are known for their more than excellent warmth. Vapor and Mercury due to the extra TR, Thermal Rebound, and Zodiac linings. we definitely see in general a use of thinner suits for our sports. The improved neoprene, stretchability and better insulation values make that possible.
We see a stronger demand for thinner suits and even good 3/2 mm suits are being worn by people in winter and some prefer layering with our innersystems undergarments.
With technologies trickling down in the ranges, is GBS to be the new Flatlock? Otherly said: is the flatlock wetsuit set to disappear in a near future?
Flatlock is completely different from GBS. Not only because of the manufacturing method. Whereas in our GBS suits, (GLUED then blindstitched) the seams are 3x glued and blindstitched, in flatlock panels are joined with a flatlock thread. A completely different process. A GBS seam is waterproof and a Flatlock is not waterproof. Flatlock is basically possible up to 2.5mm neoprene and no thicker and above that you have GBS, Overlock or Mauser stitched seams. Of these 3, GBS is again technically the more expensive option.
So no, flatlock has certainly not disappeared and is not going to. The right application and market will ensure that flatlock will also be used long into the future.
What are you bringing on the table in FW23 as far as neoprene and linings are concerned?
Prolimit has a whole new line of wetsuits for 2023. Sustainability, and dealing with our environment is very important here. We show our future as best we can in the Prolimit Future series, the PF2. Made of Rubber from a certified FSC Rubber trees, linings from PET bottles and recycled polyester and combined with water-based adhesives. With this, we have the very first wetsuit on the planet to be FSC-certified. Many of these techniques are already reflected in our other suits and in the future of our industry. In addition, the exclusive TR, Thermal Rebound, in our Mercury and Vapor range is unique and a key reason why a TR suit is among the warmest wetsuits on the market. Zodiac 2 linings and Down Airflex provide even more comfort.
There has been a lot of focus on fits lately, as opposed to a few years ago when the stretch was the fit. Is there room for improvement on silhouettes (and genders)?
When buying a wetsuit, size is important. Of course you will say is that important. Today’s wetsuits are so stretchy that you can buy a wetsuit that is too small without noticing it properly, so to speak. The downside is that by doing so, you stretch neoprene, which is going to get a bit thinner and so the insulation properties are less. Wetsuits with no or few seams will have to get the stretch and freedom of movement from the material. Prolimit chooses to model a wetsuit as much as possible so that as little stretch as possible has to be extracted to fit and ONLY the stretch is maximized for freedom of movement.
The lifespan of a wetsuit is 3 year — 4 tops — whatever the durable efforts are made by brands and manufacturers. Recycled and compostable are the way to go for a sustainable future?
Of course, everything depends on how often you use a wetsuit and we agree that 3-4 years can be true. Of course, you can increase the lifespan by maintaining the suit properly, washing it out with fresh water, letting it dry well and store it as much as possible out of the sun on a good wide hanger in a dry location.
We are currently working on a model where we can start taking wetsuits and recycling them in another way. That is definitely our future picture. All our packaging materials are already compostable and recycled, treating the wetsuit in a similar way is complicated and definitely a focus point for the near future.
When it comes to the order form, what piece of advice do you have for retailers? Stick to the pre-orders for better margins or split your purchases in separate batches to oil your cash flow?
Order form. Our advice, don’t look backwards and look to the future. Don’t base your numbers on the numbers of the past few years and, above all, look at seizing the opportunities. Prolimit scores tremendously high in reliability, quality and continuity of the collections. don’t change for the sake of changing but change to continuously improve. Splitting orders into different deliveries is always good and we are wholesale and a very reliable partner in the industry.
Mercury Steamer Hooded 6/4 Thermal Rebound – FTM
The Prolimit Mercury TR hooded keeps you warm and comfortable during long cold sessions. The suit has Thermal Rebound technology, this is an extra layer in between the neoprene and Zodiac that reflects body heat and blocks wind chill. The neoprene of the suit is 6mm thick, which makes it one of the warmest wetsuits on the market.
PF2 Steamer Free-X 6/4 Natureprene – FSC Approved
The Prolimit PF2 ecological wetsuit for men is the most sustainable wetsuit ever made. This wetsuit has a FSC approval, which means it is an environmentally appropriate product but is still made with the best technology available. This wetsuit is made to keep you warm, with its 6mm neoprene you can be sure that even in winter, you won’t get cold.
Oxygen Steamer Hooded 6/4 Thermal Rebound – FTM
The Prolimit Oxygen TR hooded keeps you warm and comfortable during long cold sessions. The suit has Thermal Rebound technology, this is an extra layer in between the neoprene and Zodiac that reflects body heat and blocks wind chill. The neoprene of the suit is 6mm thick, which makes it one of the warmest wetsuits on the market.