May 4, 2009
The once-upon-a-time name wetsuit manufacturer stakes its brand comeback on revolutionary new rashguard and surf shirt technology.
Whatever happened to them?
You might remember a company called Victory – years ago, they were the first word in wetsuits. Ask any old-timer over, say 25 years old, and the brand name instantly rings a bell. However, in the early to mid-90’s when the major surf apparel manufacturers such as Billabong and Quiksilver jumped into wetsuit manufacturing the independents such as Victory found it difficult to compete against the establish brand and million dollar marketing budgets.
Today, the Victory brand is reinventing itself with an advanced, water-resistant technology in an arena that has long been an afterthought in the industry – rashguards and surf shirts. In a market traditionally dominated by basic lycra products that vary little from manufacturer to manufacturer, Victory is staking its comeback on a proprietary technology, “KoreDry” that promises some major benefits: it keeps the surfer warmer in and out of the water and dries almost instantly when out of the water.
If that sounds like a tall order, the answer lies in the design. The fibers of the fabric are embedded with a proprietary water repellant process so they stay dry at the fiber core. Pour water on the rashguard and it will “bead” like mercury without soaking into the shirt. Immersed completely, the rashguard still “gets wet,” but doesn’t hold water in the same way as the core of the fibers essentially stay dry.
With less water held in the shirt, the cooling effect from the wind out of the water – when you are sitting on the board, for instance – is minimized. The result is a protective layer that keeps the wearer warmer in both the tropics and in cold-water conditions as a virtual second skin under a wetsuit, protects against UV rays, doesn’t cling, and dries extremely quickly. Victory calls the new technology “KoreDry” and already incorporates it in its line of TroPiSkin rashguards and surf shirts.
“I’ve been surfing for 39 years, and I’ve tried a lot of rashguards,” says Buttons Kaluhiokalani, legendary surfer, owner, and operator of Buttons Surf School in Oahu, Hawaii. “When the wind came, they didn’t keep me warm. I have no body fat, so I got cold.”
“It keeps you warm, works well protecting you from the UV rays of the sun and it’s comfortable in the ocean,” agrees Hans Hedemann, also a renowned surfer and owner of Hans Hedemann surf school in Hawaii. “It also dries very fast when you come out of the water. These are big benefits over others I’ve used.”
As water and ambient temperatures plummet in surf spots outside the tropics with the approaching winter season, keeping warm is the topic of the day. Normally, thicker wetsuits are used with rashguards underneath to prevent chafing. Unfortunately, traditional rashguards quickly become waterlogged and cold, and when out of the water they remain wet and cold for quite some time. The beauty of KoreDry is it can serve double duty, since the fabric is designed to remain dry at its core, it acts as an insulation layer for the human skin keeping the surfer warmer in and out of the water.
“It’s pretty comfortable in comparison to some of the others, and also adds a nice little warmth factor underneath my wetsuit,” agrees John Mel, well-known surfer and also the owner of the Freeline Design surf shop in Santa Cruz, California. “In Santa Cruz, all the things you can do to make yourself warmer are pretty important. The water here ranges from 48 to 49 degrees up into the low 60s. Anything I can do to warm up my body without sacrificing too much maneuverability is always a nice thing.”
With this new technology, Victory envisions an ideal opportunity to make a comeback. After all, Victory, having been in the wetsuit game, understands better than anyone the mentality that pervades the industry.
“Most surf manufacturers round out their catalogue by offering traditional lycra rashguards and surf shirts but these are very basic products with little to no innovation that differ primarily in size and color,” says Marc Spitaleri, the company’s owner. “We recognized an opportunity to create a better product with advanced water resistant technology that literally improves the surf experience.”
“We’re not in this as a wetsuit manufacturer dabbling in a product that is an afterthought to us,” adds Spitaleri. “This technology and these products are our entire focus moving forward.”
“These rashguards are incredible,” Kaluhiokalani continues. “I’m in the water 4 or 5 hours at a time. When the wind comes, this rashguard will break the wind and keep me warm, which the others wouldn’t do.”
But the moisture repellant factor doesn’t affect comfort – in fact, according to these surfers, these seem to be some of the most comfortable and least intrusive garments in the water today.
“It’s definitely lighter than other rashies or surf shirts I’ve worn in the past,” said Jeff Malanca, a.k.a. Surf Junkie Jeff, who regularly reports on surfing for radio, television and newspapers. “It’s more maneuverable and less restrictive than the typical rashguard.”
“It’s the kind of thing you can wear whether it’s winter or summer,” Malanca says. “It adds an extra layer under your wetsuit of warmth also helping with rashes, and in the summertime it not only helps with rashes but it also prevents getting too much sun on your body. I think if people tried it, they’d be amazed.”
For more information about KoreDry products contact Victory TroPiSkin at www.victorytropiskin.com
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