INNOVATION FROM THE GROUND UP
In a revolutionary experiment where raw athletic talent meets technical design superiority, RYU pioneered a new process for bringing tailored innovation to market. It began with the formation of BETA\375, the Research + Development Lab tasked with inventing the future of athletic performance.
They say inspiration can strike when you least expect it. For me, it was when I was pounding out mileage along Vancouver's legendary Spanish Banks.
The sun had just begun to rise as I reached for my run capris and a brightly colored racerback tank to go for my morning training run. I headed down to the beach and joined the score of athletes already on the path. As I settled in to a steady pace, I noticed how well I fit in with everyone there. We all looked exactly the same. Like we had all bought the same clothes from the same store at the same time.
Then I saw her.
She was beautiful, tough and disruptive. Wearing what looked like her boyfriend's t-shirt and a pair of loose fitting university "gym" shorts. She looked so cool and confident. She was running to run. Not to fit in. Then it hit me. In this endless sea of sameness she was not wearing the running uniform. So why was I? Why were any of us?
I was still thinking about this when I got home. Before you know it I had grabbed a big pair of scissors and proceeded to cut up all my iconic Wonder Woman t-shirts. Then I cut off and hemmed up a pair of old basketball shorts. I cut sleeves off sweatshirts and bands off the bottoms of all my shorts.
I broke the uniform. And it felt good.
We kept this concept of "Breaking the Uniform" in mind when we first began to sketch and select fabrics for the new RYU collections. Our training gear is not in jellybean colors. It's not cluttered and overbuilt. Instead it's functional. Wearable. Clean lines, modern cuts and tailored fits allow you to wear these pieces anytime of the day, not just when you’re training. Subdued color palettes are accented with a few bold colors to create a distinctly fashionable, wearable look. Most importantly, we designed it with the kind of details athletes crave. Hidden pockets, locker loops, flat cords, TriLayr waistband construction and a score of technical features to enhance your performance. We're making it tough enough for your hardest workout and beautiful enough to fit your life outside of training. Speaking of which, I've got to get a run in today. Maybe I'll head down to the beach again. You never know what I might see.
Juliet Korver is Product & Design Director at RYU. Stay tuned for more posts from Juliet as she writes about being an athlete and a designer. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter for great training articles, exclusive offers, and priority access to new product releases.
Want to see what breaking the uniform really looks like? Check it out when we launch our new flagship store Fall 2015.
When we first created the DNA for the RYU brand, we used the mantra "Product First". What that means is the most important piece of the RYU brand and story is the gear we make for our athletes.
Good design comes from identifying problems and finding solutions to those problems. As we are a training brand, we look at the problems facing athletes when they train. As cyclists, swimmers, climbers, runners, lifters and training fanatics ourselves, we know intimately what those issues are. So in essence, we're designing gear for ourselves, and the activities we enjoy. It's this subtle distinction that makes all the difference. We know what it's like to own clothes that restrict your movements and how that in turn affects your performance. We also understand that the way your clothes fit and perform will have a direct impact on your overall experience.
We have the empathy and insight that lets us separate fact from fiction when looking at the specific issues facing athletes.
A great example of this is in the design of our new insulated pull over, the JK005. In most cases, people would look at an insulated garment simply as a way to keep you warm as you travel to and from your workout. While that's one way to approach it, we chose to look a little deeper.
We identified the "problem" of being hot and sweaty after a training session. But if you're busy and have to leave the gym right away, you risk getting chilled, being smelly and uncomfortable. So to solve that single "problem", three distinct issues need to be addressed: warmth, odor control, and comfort.
Our solution was twofold
First: We designed the RYU top you wear during your workout with a special TecLayr fabric engineered to be quick drying and odor resistant. This is done through an innovative process that combines coffee grounds (yes, I said coffee grounds!) with the surface of the yarn. In addition to being natural, sustainable, and a safer alternative than harsh chemicals, coffee grounds change the characteristics of the filaments to dry the garment up to 200% faster when compared to plain cotton. Plus the micro-pores on coffee grounds effectively absorb odors and reflect UV rays.
Second: Our insulated pullover acts as a conduit for moisture and heat. So why is that important to athletes? When used together, the insulated garment will actually dry the RYU training shirt underneath and simultaneously regulate your temperature. The pullover creates a layer of "dead air space" around your body while the cooler air on the outer edge of the garment pulls warm air and moisture away from your body to the surface of the pullover where it quickly evaporates. This ensures you stay warm and dry after working out so you can carry on with the rest of your day in comfort and most importantly, odor-free.
Being an athlete that designs athletic gear is a critical requirement for an athletic apparel brand because we seek solutions based on personal experience, not third party research. At RYU, this has resulted in an apparel system unlike anything people have ever seen before. I think that's exciting!
Damien Kelly is Product & Design Director at RYU. Stay tuned for more from Damien as he writes about innovative design and performance features. If you like what you see, subscribe to our newsletter for great training articles, exclusive offers, and new product releases.
Check out this pullover and the revolutionary RYU apparel system dropping Fall 2015.
Product & Design Director
Being an athlete is a journey. It’s something that anybody can be. I compete. But the competition is not what drives me. It’s the everyday choices that I make with intention that defines me as an athlete. I spend hours planning, training, competing, recovering and repeating. That influences my design because I know what I need to be at my best.
Athletes need more than just gear to train in. We’re looking at everything they need to succeed.
Athletes around the world depend on us for what they need to get to where they are going. Which is great. But I want us to inspire the people who don’t see themselves as athletes just because they don’t compete. That would be a win for me.
RYU has taken the best designers and put us in a remote environment that allows us to work in a way that's completely different. Our vertically integrated design process means we take it from the first fibres all the way through to the finished product. A lost art in this industry.
At Beta 37.5 every designer sews their own prototypes and tests their products in the field.
When designing athletic apparel the true test comes in the day-to-day use of the garments. I am passionate about the function fit and engineering of the product. While it must look good it also has to perform. As an athlete, the ultimate test is how does this perform when I use it.
I’m an athlete. I climb, hike, run and do crossfit. I use that in my design process. I’m out in the environment trying the materials and trying out the design for its particular use. I have the unique opportunity of testing the gear that I create.
If you’re able to create something that someone falls in love with, that’s kind of a nice thing.
I really enjoy conceptualizing as well as doing the actual pattern work. I like the process of putting something very precise down on paper where it looks very technical to begin with, but as it materializes into a garment, you can see why you go to those precise details. Once it’s sewn up, it’s evident.
I think there’s still a lack of refined style in the world of athletic apparel. Everything still has a little too much athleticism, and not enough cool factor.
Ultimately when I create a product, I feel responsible for the experience of the user.
My personal design process starts long before paper and pencil and the studio. It starts in the field trying to understand what the product is for in the end. And how I can make it better. Only then do I start sketching. I’ll start building very rough prototypes to get an idea of what where I’m going, and then refining that to where it’s a finished product.
Head of Design + Innovation
There are so many things missing for athletes these days. I mean in their clothing, when you look at the big players out there. They’ve stuck to a certain formula for so many years of price driven, price point polyester clothing. And that’s where they’ve plateaued.
To be in a place where RYU is right now, I think that’s only once in a lifetime.
RYU is different. We’re going sport-by-sport. Athlete-by-athlete. We’re identifying issues, we’re identifying problems, and we’re looking at solving them. That’s the basis of our design philosophy. Layered on top of that it has to look unbelievable and make you feel, very, very cool.