WINTERMISSION: Behind The Suit with Billabong

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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.

Scott Boot, Billabong‘s Global Wetsuit Director is up there with one of the most treasured individuals in his field. The man is responsible for decking out most the world’s best surfers in rubber for over two decades, and is by no respect slowing down any time soon.

Intrigued by his influence in the industry, we picked Scott’s brain to find out more about what first drew him to surfing, what exactly his role entails and more about Billabong‘s latest and greatest collection.

Scott, thanks for catching up! Tell us who you are and give us a brief background to how you got to where you are today.
Since my earliest days growing up I’ve been passionately interested in everything surfing – it’s in my DNA. My father was a world renowned competitive surfer in the 50’s way before I was born and the sport more than interested me: it was my life choice. My first job was at a local surf shop, where I first sunk my teeth into the products that make surfing pleasurable (boards and hardware) and this is where I became interested in wetsuits. Wetsuits are a form fitting garment that have to bend and stretch and insulate you from the cold elements, and for the past 24 years I’ve dedicated my life to designing and developing the world’s leading wetsuits for two of the biggest action sports brands in the world: O’Neill and Billabong.

Your key role is Director of Billabong wetsuits – what exactly does this entail?
Everything from Innovation, Design and Production right through to Sales.

Billabong‘s 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 Furnace Series is our premium cold water innovation wetsuit. It lays down the platform for innovation in the wetsuit market today. The furnace utilises an internal carbon fibre thermal to maximise heat retention. The Furnace comes in two different versions: The Furnace X is for the surfer serious about surfing in cold water, while the Furnace Pro is our lightweight flex version of this series. We also have the Revolution series and this is our flexibility style master offer.

Give us a run down of the features, materials, seams, etc. What really stands out for you?
Staying warm, light and flexible is key. We’ve engineered a material that has carbon fiber knitted into the internal base layer of the material. It’s knitted in a way that allows the material to stretch in multiple directions making it flexible. It’s a double knit fabric so it has a top and base layer allowing it to dry to the touch super fast – “in minutes”. The carbon fibre is light weight, super strong, retains heat and is the warmest material you can get. We’ve also addressed the external jersey with our dry stretch jersey: it is a micro-thin external jersey that is incredibly flexible but due to its low profile it holds 60% less water than other equivalent stretch jersey’s. All of this is laminated to our airlite foam sponge making for the most advanced wetsuit available.

What suits would you recommend for people living in warmer areas compared to what you’d recommend for those living further South?
Staying warm in any climate is the key to surfing longer. Billabong offer a full spectrum of suits for surfers in every area. The Revolution would be suited to people living in the warmer winter climates (Sydney – Qld) and is super flexible. Our Furnace Carbon series is suited for the coldest parts of Tassie. The Furnace Carbon X is designed for the cold temperatures of Tassie and Vicco.

What do the suits offer over others?
Billabong suits offer many years of experience in pattern work to result in the perfect fit and seam placement – this makes them function and stay comfortable. We also have exclusive neoprenes and jerseys that are at the forefront of material development making for a warm and flexible wetsuit designed by surfers for surfers.

What are your tips to keeping the suits alive as long as possible?
Wash it every now and again in mild detergent and always hang it out of direct sun light to dry.