When Julien Salles took over the reins at Manera, the accessory company had a single line of kite-specific travel bags on offer. In the years that followed, Manera launched a series of innovative harness technologies and developed high performance wetsuit designs to suit every condition and style of riding. With the groundbreaking release of a new harness chassis and revamped wetsuit lines that are taking the kite, foil and surf worlds by storm, Manera’s Julien Salles fills us in on the latest developments for 2022.
We have faced a huge demand for our products this year, which is a good problem to have, but it has also forced us to find new processes and ways of working. We have completely re-worked the way we manage our supply chain and re-structured our workforce to increase efficiency. We made it our goal to not just survive the COVID-induced supply chain crisis, but to continue to innovate, develop and improve during these tough times. We tripled our efforts, but the results can be found in our 2022 line.
The big news for the Manera line of harnesses this year seems to be the introduction of the Halo harness. The Halo is a very unique approach to harness technology that blends both soft and hard shell concepts. What are the key components behind the Halo and how does that translate to the various disciplines of kiteboarding?
The idea actually came to us a few years ago when we were working on the Eclipse harness. We had this vision that a harness could work like a hammock, where the body lays on a soft net without touching the stiff structure. We call this technology “Adaptive shell.” We tried a first sample made with 3D printing, and immediately discovered that the concept worked. Then we had a major challenge to overcome: How should we produce it? Having an idea and being able to transform it into a real product is often the hardest part. We invested a lot of resources into the concept and had the entire R&D team working on it. Two years later, after a lot of hard hours and tons of prototyping, here we are!
We didn’t only develop and patent the Adaptive shell technology, we also made all the individual harness parts completely interchangeable so if any piece is damaged or used, we’re able to change it easily. Nothing is stitched or glued, everything is replaceable. This is a great service to customers and a more sustainable approach to ensuring products last longer. Last but not least, it comes with a brand new spreader bar that comes out of the box with both a hook and a sliding rope! It came out great and I think this will change the way we look at harnesses: First there was softshells, then hardshells, and now we have the adaptive shell.
Manera’s existing line of harnesses include the Eclipse and Exo models, how do these compare to the new Halo Model and what kind of rider might prefer these various models?
Since we have shipped dozens of Halos out for testing, we’ve had no one preferring any other harness… this will be interesting to see how it affects sales within our own range. The Eclipse has a lower profile, so it fits riders that are looking for greater freedom of movement, which might appeal to freestyle and wave riders. The Exo 2.0 has a bit higher profile, so this might be better for riders that are looking for a larger support area, which could cover freeride and big air.
How should riders choose between the Magma, X10D and Seafarer lines of wetsuits? Are there any changes for 2022 in terms of material and design?
We designed our lines to be very easy to understand: The Magma is for warmth, the X10D is for lightness/flex, and the Seafarer is the best value for money. Our main strength in neoprene is our 3D designed fit, so we’re still working to improve it every year. This year we updated the upper back panels and created intermediate sizes (short and tall). Pattern improvements are not that easy to communicate to the end user, but the improvements we make in the wetsuit panels are the ones that the customer will feel the most when in the water. Every year we test and implement new fabrics in order to keep our wetsuits among some of the warmest, fastest drying, most flexible and durable of the market. This year we featured new recycled jerseys into the Magma and a new fleece into the X10D and Seafarer. You can find more information about these materials on our website.
Manera has rounded out its line with a full plate of accessories that range from the Neo Top to the Biki Suit and a full offering of booties and gloves. What are the exciting developments in the accessory lines for 2022?
It was an exciting process to implement everything we have learned from 10 years of designing wetsuits into a new range of accessories. We designed booties that support the foot while allowing a great board feel, and we came up with the idea for pre-shaped gloves that keep hands warm without increasing forearm fatigue. We dialed in our windproof hoods so they don’t squeeze your face and we now have high quality neo tops that actually fit the body and keep you really warm. We felt like there was a lot of room for innovation in the neoprene accessories range, and we had a lot of fun working on these products that bring something new to the accessory space.