WINTERMISSION: Behind The Suit With Banks

  • Style
posted by James Willmott

Rubber and winter go together. Plain and simple. With a heavily populated industry of both long running and pop up brands, we as surfers are constantly asking ourselves ‘what’s the difference between brands, fits, materials and the rest?’ Well, go no further and ask no longer, we’ve got the answers from the who’s who of the industry, lead designers and marketplace specialists giving us the know how on their latest ranges.

Lucky for us the hard-working team at Banks are bringing us a range of high-tech rubber to keep us in the water longer this season, and with their focus on sustainability there are plenty of options to vote for the environment with your wallet. Originally founded in California, Banks delivers quality products influenced by the richness of different cultures, travel and good times – and their wetsuit line is no different.

So pack your gear, throw the boards in the wagon and get ready to go on a journey of rubber discovery as we catch up with Chris Schulstad, Designer at Banks, for the nitty gritty on the cuts, features, and materials that will keep you warmer this winter.

Join the conversation!


Chris, thanks for catching up! Can you give us a brief background to how you got to where you are today?
Sure! I grew up in Burleigh Heads but now reside in the Northern Rivers of NSW and I’ve always been passionate about surfing and art, so I decided to study Graphic Arts and Advertising and landed my first job in the surf industry. I have been designing surf products for over 10 years mainly focusing on trunks. The surf industry is such a great place to work especially if you love the ocean. I have met so many great people and have worked alongside some of the most talented and creative designers and artists whilst traveling the world for work.

Your key role is Designer at Banks, what exactly does this entail?
This entails everything to do with the design right through to production. I design a variety of different products from apparel to accessories to wetsuits. I get to work with a great bunch of like-minded people across the globe all with the same goal to make functional, stylish and sustainable products.

new season wetsuits have just dropped and they look epic to say the least!! Can you give us a summary of the collection? What are the key components?
When designing these wetsuits we looked into everything that is important and functional in a wetsuit with no unnecessary gimmick features. We used premium rubber with a focus on a really good fit, really subtle and timeless design lines and minimal logo representation.

Can you give us a run down of the features, materials, seams, etc. What really stands out for you?
Premium rubber featuring recycled polyester top and inside jersey, overlock internal stitching, critically taped seams and YKK® front chest zip. What really stands out for me is not the one feature but a few features: the premium rubber has a nice soft-hand feel that has the flexibility and warmth to keep you surfing longer, and the rubber does not absorb much water which keeps it lighter when wet and ensures it dries quicker. Also, the wetsuits have a really good fit for minimal rashing and no excess water going in and out. Lastly, the front zip entry is really easy to get in and out of with the pullover internal glove (which also makes the wetsuit snug and watertight).


What suits would you recommend for people living in warmer areas compared to what you’d recommend for those living in areas like Vicco, etc?
For warmer water I would recommend a 2mm short arm steamer, you could even get away with a vest and trunks through the middle of the day. For the colder areas anything 3/2mm up to 4/3mm full steamer.

What do Banks suits offer over others?
They offer everything you need in a wetsuit: comfort, warmth, a really good fit and complete functionality. The full package!

How can we keep our suits alive as long as possible?
Make sure you rinse your wetsuit in fresh water after every surf and hang it out to dry out of the sun.

Lastly, do you have any tips on how to make the best wetty purchase?
Wetsuits are one of those things where it comes down to personal preference for what suits your needs. For example if you feel the cold more than normal you may need a warmer suit than most. It’s also important to compare as much info as possible – always do your research on any suit before you purchase and speak to a few different people to get feedback. Make sure you always try a wetsuit on too.