With an even stronger dedication to sustainable initiatives, Ion has furthered its commitment to reducing their environmental footprint by extending sustainable tech across a broader swath of its products lines. Equally committed to innovation and refinement of their extensive line of windsport accessory products, Ion Marketing’s Matthäus Merkle fills in the blanks on what’s in the pipe for Ion 2021.


WHAT IS NEW AT THE ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL OF YOUR COMPANY FOR 2021?

It has already been several years that Ion has been implementing sustainability initiatives. However, it is only recently that we have started to speak more openly about what the company is doing to reduce our footprint. Building wetsuits, harnesses and accessories will always have an environmental footprint, but we strive to minimize this footprint whenever possible by developing new environmentally friendly packaging, reducing print materials, improving transport routes, researching recyclable materials and greener manufacturing processes, and cooperating with organizations that fight global warming and extending the overall product life cycle while developing high-quality sports gear that is designed for longterm use. Furthermore, we are organizing the Ion Beach & Clean Days where communities rally together with the common goal of collecting the trash littering their playground. We take these efforts very seriously because we are responsible for ensuring that future generations can also live the stoke of surfing elements. Learn more about our initiatives at https://www.ion-products.com/water/save-our-playgrounds/

Sometimes progression means abandoning old habits and ideas. At times, the key to a good product lies in unifying ideas and creating one solution for all. After numerous fittings, tests and hours of analyzing different body types, sizing’s, materials and working together with external partners, Ion introduces the new global fit for our wetsuits. Thanks to the latest tech in neoprene, the stretchy rubber allows us to offer one wetsuit cut that fits all. No matter if you’re short or tall, skinny or big—all riders can now choose the same wetsuit model thanks to thoughtfully developed intermediate sizes.

IS THERE A SINGLE INNOVATION THAT YOU WOULD FIRST LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT?

Two years ago, we found a new material that beats everything else in terms of durability. Curv Composite is the most durable material which has ever been used in manufacturing harnesses. Next to its advantage of lasting forever, Curv material is 100% polypropylene and 100% recyclable and can be manufactured entirely without the use of any toxic resin. Not only for this reason we try to extend the use of the Curv material further to our Harness range, and even to other product groups. The properties of the material also work perfectly for parts of our bags to make them more durable and stable for many hours of traveling and never-ending journeys.

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE HARNESS MODELS IN YOUR 2021 LINEUP IN A NUTSHELL? FOR EACH HARNESS, WHAT IS THE INTENDED TYPE OF RIDING AND TARGET USER AND KEY CHANGES FOR 2021?

Our goal for 2021 was to achieve a clear and understandable line concept for the end consumer. With the further development of hard shell harnesses over the last couple of years, we started to both cluster and differentiate our models by implementing the ‘Flex Index’—an indicator similarly used in the ski boot industry, which helps to determine the stiffness of a specific model. The harness Flex Index ranges from 0-20 with 20 being the stiffest. Within the Ion 2021 harness lineup, customers can choose from different models ranging from quite soft to very rigid depending on their preference.

The second differentiation we have in 2021 is the profile of our harnesses. We offer two lines of harnesses. Models with a high profile offer great support and a lot of friction due to their EVA padding. They are more targeted towards freeriding. Models with a low profile offer a bit more freedom of movement which wave riders might prefer.

In general, we don’t want to restrict our harnesses to a specific category or style of riding because in the end it, comes completely down to the rider’s preference of how much support, rigidity or freedom of movement they prefer.

WHAT SPREADER BAR OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE WITH YOUR 2021 HARNESS LINEUP?

Each of our harnesses comes with a designated spreader bar and will be ready to ride right off the shelf. All Ion harnesses are delivered with our tried and tested C-bar. An injection-molded spreader bar system which we first launched in 2018. It is lightweight, super-stiff and features an easy to use lever lock system.

On our semi-hard-shell harnesses, we have an even more improved version of this spreader bar featuring a tension lock buckle which pretty much makes adjusting the webbings obsolete. There will be a webbing slider preinstalled.

Additionally, customers have the option to choose from three different hooks depending on their style of riding or preference, similar to the different chicken loop options you can often choose from nowadays: our classic stainless steel hook, a 50% lighter aluminum hook and our newest innovation in kite hook development the ‘Quicklock Hook’ which is aimed towards freeriders who are looking for a safe, ‘hook in and forget’ system where one never needs to worry about the chicken loop ever slipping out and releasing the kite by accident.

WHAT HAS CHANGED OR IS NEW IN YOUR 2021 WETSUIT LINEUP? WHAT ARE THE KEY FUNCTIONAL AND PERFORMANCE FEATURES INTRODUCED THIS YEAR?

Our new 2021 wetsuit line for men is called Seek and for women, Amaze. Both come in front and back zip models. All of our back zip models feature additional protection pads at the shins as well as detachable leg loops to prevent water from rushing into the suit. We will continue to differentiate our performance level suits, the Select, Amp, Core and Element, to be able to offer each customer a suit that suits them best. At the moment the Seek Amp and the Amaze Amp are available; all other models will be released in February 2021.

Our Amp level stands for epic stretch. Ultra-flexible thermos-lining combined with lightweight neoprene provides extra warmth for uncompromising freedom of movement all year round. The secret for its optimal heat retention lies in Ion’s super flexible inside lining, called Hot_Stuff 2.0, in combination with toasty warm Plasma_Plush 2.0 on the back panel. Ifoam neoprene traps more insulating air thanks to a new structure which contributes to better heat retention and flexibility. In spots without thermal lining, super soft Silk_Stuff increases next-to-skin comfort to the max.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ACCESSORIES OR OTHER PRODUCT LINES YOU WOULD LIKE TO BRIEFLY INTRODUCE OR DISCUSS CHANGES/HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2021?

Our project—‘Core Boardbags 2021, Don’t turn lineups into landfills’— is about protecting what we love most: the ocean. To make sure lineups won’t turn into landfills Ion uses Waste2Wear® fabrics for our redesigned Core board bags. The yarn of the new Core line of board bags consists of 100% RPET nylon, which is obtained from recycled plastic bottles. Used plastic bottles are collected and thoroughly cleaned, before being shredded into small flakes and further processed into larger pellets, which are then made into thin yarn. By using the recycled polyester from Waste2Wear®, we achieve enormous environmental savings: bottles to fill 3097 shipping containers, water used by a human in 4.4 years; CO2 absorbed by a tree in 1279 years; and energy a light bulb needs to run for 225 years.


 

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