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?
We have taken the decision to carry through all of our FW22 collection into FW23. Introducing new styles and colourways at an uncertain time such as this, would be irresponsible and could leave many retailers with too much to mark down. Final FW23 pricing is not yet fixed, but due to the carry through decision, we should be able to hold our prices where they are now.
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?
At O’Neill we’ve had 4/3’s and 4/3mm hooded suits in our line up since the beginning because they are the benchmark suits that have you covered year round in Santa Cruz. Recently this hooded style has grown a little in popularity in Europe but as temperatures are diverse north to south throughout the year we still see our hooded 5 and 6mm’s outnumbering thinner options.
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?
These are 2 very different construction techniques that both have their place so at O’Neill we wouldn’t see GBS replacing flatlock construction. The flatlock stitch can be used as low cost durable option for the recreational user who might not be in the water all the time or just for those warmer days where a glued suit would be excessive. GBS suits are certainly the only option for the cooler days and cold waters but at factory level they take longer to build, are more labour intensive and require a more skilled worker to assemble. Thinner neoprenes are also very difficult to blind stitch effectively with pin hole leaks unavoidable even when using internal tape.
What are you bringing on the table in FW23 as far as neoprene and linings are concerned?
As we have only introduced our latest generation of Technobutter – TB4 – this winter, much of our product line for F23 remains the same as F22 due to the current over stock situation throughout many stores in Europe. We would like to help our retail partners to have a chance to sell through their inventory without feeling they need to discount what they have to replace it with the latest new colors and technologies.
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)?
At O’Neill fit and flexibility have always been the cornerstone of our wetsuit design and we are lucky enough to have our own R&D factory close by that allows us to turnaround multiple prototypes to ensure our fit and in-house size grading is the best we feel it can be before going into production. We currently offer over 20 different silhouettes in neoprene across men, women, youth and girls with 8 of those in our women’s/girl’s Bahia collection.
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?
Lifespan depends how many times you use your wetsuit and if you religiously rinse it and regularly wash it, this will keep the jersey supple and remove any salt that causes the most damage to glues and fabrics. With flexibility you can often forfeit durability so as a consumer it’s important to understand this and make the correct suit choice for you. There are some very durable neoprenes available such as the ones we use in our dive wetsuits where flexibility is less important but you probably wouldn’t want go surfing in a dive wetsuit, you might be warm but get tired very quickly. At O’Neill we’re always pushing the limits of neoprene technology to find the perfect blend or provide the widest choice so when buying a wetsuit it’s important to look at, performance or durability or somewhere in between.
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?
The most important decision a retailer can take now is to be cautious. Supply is still high, demand has shrunk, and there’s no telling how long it will take for things to stabilize. O’Neill likes to keep supply as lean as possible, and Preorders are usually more about securing stock rather than discounts, but we can take multiple-drop Preorders to spread the load across the season. My advice? No one ever went bust from selling everything, so decide your budget and stick to it. Try to sell through 100% before the end of season for maximum margin.