WINTERMISSION: Behind The Suit With Quiksilver
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.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Quiksilver’s Technical Products Manager, Chris Branch, who gave us the low down on industry insights into the rubber you’ll be repping this season. For near on fifty years now, Quiksilver have been decking out the surf-bleached youth of Australia and beyond in quality materials and outstanding products – their wetsuit offerings are no different. From brain-freeze Raglan lefts to pseudo-winter Snapper rights, the brand has you covered in the finest neoprene and technical innovations to hit the market this year.
Join the conversation to find out what goes on behind the scenes and how to make the most of Quiksilver’s new-season features.
Thanks for being with us Chris! Can you tell us who you are and give us a brief background to how you got to where you are today?
I’m Chris Branch and I manage the Technical Products for Quiksilver & Roxy in APAC. That covers wetsuits, surf hardware, watches, sunnies and some smaller categories. Bred in WA but now based on the Gold Coast, I am a lifelong surfer, have an Environmental Science Degree and have worked many years in and around surf shops. I started my career with Quiksilver almost 10 years ago.. The day I got the call-up, it was a lifelong dream come true!
Your key role is Product Manager, what exactly does that entail?
As a Product Manager, my sole aim is to deliver to the Aussie customer the best, most relevant products at the right price and at the right time. Australia and NZ have such a range of conditions (from hooded 5/4/3’s in the South Island of NZ to the tropical waters of the Gold Coast) so we ensure every surfer can get the products they need to perform at their peak while doing what we love.
I am involved in such a wide range of activities, from the initial product concept, design and selection, through to the logistic side of it (producing the wetsuits and shipping from the factory), and the local side too (working with retail, sales reps and shop owners to deliver the wetties to the Aussie market).
The key is being open to feedback – from the Quiksilver team, from our customers, and of course from the crew I chat with every day at the beach.
Quiksilver 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?
The 2017 collection is packed with features, giving you everything you need to enjoy your surf, while looking great and at the best price. We only use the very best neoprene in our suits. Every suit is 100% F’nLITE neoprene. That means you can be sure you are getting the warmest, lightest & most flexible wetty available. The cold water suits have industry leading thermal properties to keep you warmer for longer and the summer suits are made to give you ultimate freedom.
Give us a run down of the features, materials, seams, etc. What really stands out for you?
Here’s where I like to be super clear and concise:
- Every Quiksilver wetsuit is made of F’nLITE neoprene. All over, from the ankles to the neck. It’s the lightest/most flexible material in our market. We call it F’nLITE, because it’s f*ckin’ light. Being a global company, we couldn’t really use f*ckin’ light on the suits, so we’ve gone with F’nLITE. Might be a bit of an Aussie way of looking at it, but I don’t want to get too tech and cause confusion. It’s just super light, super stretchy, so we’re calling it that.
- Our cool water suits have WARMFLIGHT Thermal lining. As above, its WARM and F*CKIN’ LITE. It’s got a ceramic weave in the neoprene which radiates your own body heat back to you via Far Infra Red radiation. It’s the warmest lining we’ve ever seen – it’s amazingly light and flexible and it’s fast drying as well.
- Our seams are thin and lightweight, yet watertight and durable. The cool water suits have an additional seal on the outside (Hydrolock) and/or inside (Red Seal Tape)
Every feature of our suits is the product of rigorous testing in cold water to ensure it works, and is the best technology available.
What suits would you recommend for people living in warmer areas compared to what you’d recommend that are in living in areas like Vicco, etc?
In warmer areas, you won’t need a sealed suit, so a 3/2 GBS or a 2/2 short arm GBS will do the trick. It will give you coverage and keep the chill away (but not hot) and will be lightweight and flexible. On the Goldy in winter or cool mornings I wear the SYNCRO High Dye short sleeve GBS CZ (EQYW303004). It’s light and stretchy, easy to get into with the chest zip and its got a trippy acid wash look… And at under $300 it’s affordable (cheaper than top end boardies and a jacket!)
I hate being cold, it slows me down and leads to bad decisions. So when I’m surfing cold water, like Margaret River, Raglan or Winkipop, I go for a sealed and lined suit, but in 3mm. That way, I’m warm for the whole surf, but comfortable as well. I find that thicker suits cause fatigue much sooner, so I use the 3.5/3 Highline 2xBonded (EQYW103014). It’s so warm you can skip the boots and gloves, but as it’s 3mm, it’s light and flexible too. The body & legs have the Warmflight lining, which is the warmest lining on any suit available in Australia – plus it’s fully sealed inside and out. I have never shivered in that suit, even in the most frigid conditions.
What do Quiksilver suits offer over others?
Our suits are purpose built and have features that every surfer needs. We demand the warmest, the lightest, and the most flexible. Quiksilver uses F’nLITE – the lightest and most flexible neoprene available, and always in the whole suit. We don’t give you substandard neoprene in any panel. Plus our cool water suits have WARMFLIGHT. With its Far Infra Red heat radiating properties, it’s the warmest lining you can get. As well as black, most of our suits come in a brighter colour option as well, so you can blend in with the crowd if you like, or if you want to stand out with a unique flashy colour, we’ve got you covered!
Give us your tips to keeping the suits alive as long as possible?
I always recommend to wash wetsuits in fresh water after your surf (just a shower at the beach or hose at home will do it), and then hang it (folded at the waist) out of direct sun.
What keeps Quiksilver one step ahead of the wetsuit industry?
We’ve tirelessly refined every detail in every panel of our suits for the ultimate in comfort. If the suit doesn’t fit, it’s going to let water in and won’t keep you warm. We have the widest size assortment of any company with 14 different sizes, so you can use our size chart to choose the exact suit to give you a perfect tailored fit.