Airush launched their 2015 Team Series this week, unveiling a new binding program and announcing plans to move their twin tip production to Playmaker in Taiwan. Brand Manager Clinton Filen talks about these changes in an interview recently posted by the company:
First, can you take us through the highlights of the 2015 Team Series?
As always, the Team Series is about developing the most high performance products, specific to what our team is asking for, without compromising them for commercial reasons. Although this means that it is a very premium price range, it is simply the result of being a rider driven company committed to developing high end products.
When you look at our kite program, one of our key focuses has been to develop the most durable construction on the market without resulting in heavy and unresponsive kites. This was achieved through combining Teijin Technoforce D2 as the leading canopy material in the industry with our unique Aramid Load Frame. If you take the time to look into the technical performance of these two components, it is such a massive step forward, beyond even our expectations. We have also redesigned key components such as the inflation valve and one pump system.
With regard to specific kite models, the Razor is an updated shape that is essentially the model that Alex Pastor was using towards the end of last year, when he clinched the world title. We have spent a lot of time fine tuning each of the sizes to maintain consistency in feel between them. On the Wave kite, we have had a lot of fun refining the product in our daily wave sessions. Of course this was challenging, as the market response on this product had been exceptional and we really wanted to maintain the same feel.
On the board side, with the move to Playmaker we had to rebuild all of our molds, so it was a great opportunity to refine many of the shapes and details. We have improved the flex profile on all of the boards, and the more advanced press and composite systems mean we can push the construction further. This has reduced weight and improved reliability. There are a lot of first this year, with the new grind base on the Livewire and the introduction of the new Apex Team, for riders looking at a high-end board without heavy channels.
The binding project has been a massive new program for us as we did not use any existing components and opened new molds for every part; it has taken a year of very focused development to bring the first product, in the form of the Alex Pastor Signature model to market. We went through the same process with the new AFT Strap System, with product designer Dean Freedberg focusing his energy on that.
A big highlight for us was developing the women’s Specific Range, the Diamond Series. The product design team worked together with Bruna Kajiya on this bespoke engineering project from the ground up. Airush graphic designer, Lucia Bosman worked on the art, so it was good to have a strong female effort in getting an authentic women’s range together.
How did Alex Pastor’s injury affect the development of the Team Series?
We had been working up to having all his new gear ready for the first 2014 event, which is when he was injured. So luckily all of the key development had been done and we were able to bring his range to market without much disruption.
You have set up a new production partnership with Playmaker in Taiwan. Can you tell us more about this?
Taiwan has a very strong reputation for premium composite products (specifically in the bike and snowboard business) where there is access to the premium raw materials, technology and the skilled labor that we need to build our products.
Playmaker has a long-standing reputation as a high-end manufacturer. This is obviously what we were looking for, as one of our major challenges is finding manufacture partners who are open to developing new technology. Playmaker is very focused on investing into these capabilities, which ultimately helps us to continue to develop exciting products.
What is so special about the new binding program, what makes it unique?
We started from the ground up and designed our own unique boot program. We had a chance to relook at every part of the binding, from the chassis to the angle of the last, with a focus on optimizing every point as much as possible.
There are huge costs in setting up new tools along all sizes but we felt the current boots on the market did not address the durability and functional requirements of the kite market in key areas. We also feel that boots will be an important section of the market as the lines between footstraps and boots will blend specifically for freeride customers.
Alex Pastor has been riding boots consistently for a long period and came to us with a wealth of requirements to build some thing for the dedicated wakestyle rider. His focus was on a boot which had the right balance of support, with freedom of movement in certain directions, along with key reinforcing and as much comfort as possible.
Overall we are extremely stoked with the outcome, as it is the perfect platform for our key customers to experience what we can do as design and rider driven brand.