Circle One F/W 23/24 Wetsuits Preview
Retail Buyers Guide: Wetsuits F/W 2023/24 Retail Buyer‘s Guide
Brand: Circle One
Interviewee: James Trevelyan, Director
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 to retailers & customers?
Our winter suits are up on average 10% over last year.. The increase would have been more but you can’t pass all costs to the end consumer – you have find some middle ground between maintaining margins and keeping customers happy. Price increases have been the norm across all industries and the surf industry is no different. It’s the cost of importing which is by far the biggest contributor to prices increases.
On the one hand, surfers are now keen on wearing hooded wetsuits for the coldest days, and 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?
You need to listen to everything your retail accounts are telling you about what their customers are looking for. The range of wetsuit specs available now (thickness, distribution of panels etc) is more nuanced today than it was even, say, 5 years ago. The consumer is spoilt for choice now which is a good thing.
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?
You can pick up a solid entry-level GBS suit for around the £150.00-£200.00 mark but I believe, as a summer option, there is still good demand for a 3:2 flatlock suit in the £80-£100.00 price range. Flatlock construction suits are quicker and easier to manufacture so they represent a real economical option for a lot of people.
What are you bringing on the table in FW23 as far as neoprene and linings are concerned?
We continue to use limestone Yamomoto neoprene in all our GBS suit range coupled with Xtend thermo-stretch lining in the torso on the Mens ICON and Womens KONA range. The thermal and Eco credentials of Yamomoto is market leading and we don’t compromise in this area.
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)?
As always, it’s important to get the basics right which means intelligent seam placement to achieve maximum movement for all eventualities. When you’ve been manufacturing suits for over 30 years like we have then you learn a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. Mens and womens shapes have changed over the years and it’s vital to adapt suit specs accordingly.
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?
In the absence of ‘true’ recyclable and compostable neoprene substitute, you need to be creative. For example, at Circle One, we partner with a recycling partner based in South Wales to recycle as many ‘end of life’ wetsuits as possible into new products (mainly bags and neoprene accessories). Customers send us their old suits (we accept all brands) and we pass them on for the materials to be re-purposed. No other wetsuit manufacturer does this.
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?
You have to work with retailers’ challenges. This is how it is now. It is about long term collaboration with retailers where customer service (B2B) is just as important as the quality of the merchandise supplied. We have had to eb more flexible in terms of spreading deliveries across the season. Not all retailers are able to take their full pre-order in one hit.
Key Products: Please supply 1 pic and 60 words on each of your 3 most important key products that retailers should definitely order.
1. Circle One Mens 5.4.3mm ICON Back Zip – RRP £209.99 (€239.99)
The premium ICON 5.4.3mm Mens GBS winter Back Zip is a go-to performance suit for taking on winter swells. Designed for water temperatures of 8°- 12°C and perfect for UK and European winter conditions. Made with Eco-friendly Yamamoto Limestone 360° stretch neoprene providing comfort, flexibility and full freedom of movement. Thermo-stretch ‘quick-dry’ lining offers superior warmth in the core.
2. Circle One Mens 5.4.3mm ICON Chest Zip – RRP £279.99 (€319.99)
The ICON 5.4.3mm Mens GBS winter Chest Zip wetsuit harnesses the best of our 40 year wetsuit manufacturing knowledge into one true winter classic. Capable of brushing aside all that the UK and
European winter can throw at it. Made with Eco-friendly Yamamoto Limestone 360° stretch neoprene providing comfort, flexibility and full freedom of movement.
3. Circle One Womens 5.4.3mm KONA Back Zip – RRP £209.99 (€239.99)
The premium Kona 5.4.3mm Womens GBS winter back zip wetsuit is a go-to performance suit for taking on winter swells. Designed for water temperatures of 8°- 12°C and perfect for UK and European winter conditions. Made with Eco-friendly Yamamoto Limestone 360° stretch neoprene providing comfort, flexibility and full freedom of movement. Thermo-stretch ‘quick-dry’ lining offers superior warmth in the core.