[Advendure]: Let’s start our discussion about gear. Dynafit has been getting great reviews for running shoes and equipment. What should we know and what are you most excited about?
[DYNAFIT]: We started with our summer collection in 2012 with a small and sharp collection. Since 2012 we were able expand the program, but still offer a collection for ambitious racers and mountain runners with lightweight products and alpine character. One of the most exciting processes during product development and launch was the categorization and alignment between our footwear, apparel and equipment departments, designers and product managers. We built a collection with full set-ups from head to toe and different ranges of use. For summer 2017 we are – for the first time – launching an apparel lifestyle collection that combines features for sports and daily life. Besides that, we are excited about our news in the footwear segment: a new rubber sole concept developed with POMOCA.
[Advendure]: We see that you have 3 major categories in running (Vertical, Alpine, Ultra) with different attributes in clothing and equipment. How do you address the differences that they have?
[Adriano Rossato]: That`s related to the market. I think almost every competitor is moving with these 3 segments and categorizes to make clear the field of use. We have defined the key point “distance” to communicate and show the different range of application. The category “Alpine” is dedicated to Alpine terrain and, especially in footwear, built for distances between 15 to 40 kilometers. Means that our ALPINE running shoes are equipped with a versatile mid and outsole construction. Vertical running shoes are made for short distance running: direct trough minimal fit (very few space around the feet), very lightweight, we put a focus on traction. For Ultra runners we designed footwear with features supporting them on long distances (more than 40 kilometers): the relation between lightweight on one side and durability, stability and protection on the other side is matching with their needs. For long distance runners the cushion is an important feature and we work with double constructions for mid and outsoles. Our colleagues from apparel division work with same criteria: Our designers are putting more spaces for flasks, water bottles, snacks when developing Ultra styles. In general they play with the question “how many features do we need – how much weight can we allow”?
[Advendure]: In all your running shoe product lines we see that you rely completely on Vibram® soles, which means that you’re very satisfied with the outcome. Do you consider creating your own outsoles for some or all of your running shoes?
[Adriano Rossato]: We rely on our long-term partner VIBRAM® and fully trust on their product. We think that the Compound Megagrip is the best solution on the market for ambitious trail runners and that`s why VIBRAM Megagrip outsole is our standard. Nevertheless, we introduced last year another outsole from POMOCA rubber for a new and different product range, our model “Trailbreaker”. In our eyes, this is another user profile that VIBRAM does not cover at the moment.
[Advendure]: Can you describe us in a few words the whole process of the creation of a new shoe model, from the inception of the idea to the market shelves. How much important is the co-operation of Dynafit athletes team with the R&D section of the company in the process?
[Adriano Rossato]: We start from the benchmarking and market analysis which all departments do, already around 2-3 years before the product launch. This first step is done by the product marketing and our sales team. After collecting the results, we release the product briefing with requested features. Starting from our target group, from technical requirements, with a draft of first design ideas, a specification of sales and price range. The briefing goes to the designer. And they work on first drafts. Then we meet to do final adjustments between product management, designer and general management. Finally our technical engineers and developers prove and choose the material. They work, based on the first design draft on fit, proposing the last and produce a first mock-up. That`s already the start to work on a mold, together with our rubber supplier. We produce a 3D model of mid and outsole construction. This prototype of the lower part will then put together with the upper part – the first prototype. Next steps after discussion, alignments, first testings are final samples and – when proved, the production of salesmen samples.
[Advendure]: Can you please describe us the equipment testing procedure Dynafit has?
[Adriano Rossato]: Our athletes and team members start testing already with prototypes, but in small numbers. Once having salesmen samples we are able to expand the tests and get results from long-term usage. That`s why often we still have small, but sometimes technical changes in-between salesmen sample production and normal production. Our target is to test already during the first steps and development procedure but also after sales men samples are released, our teams are collecting feedback. We organize test events with our athletes and team members. Usually two events per season with 12 runners who change models. We work with questionnaires, tests on different terrain, in different conditions (weather, temperature, even climate) and have testers in all our main markets. In some cases, we were able to equip athletes with the shoes to race already one season before product launch.
[Advendure]: What should we expect in the near future from Dynafit to bring to the mountain running scene? Can we have a sneak peek in the near future product lines?
[Adriano Rossato]: For summer 2017 our product highlight in footwear is the "Alpine Pro" - a shoe that is reactive and dynamic, while also molding flexibly to the foot from heel to toe. It`s especially light - weighs in at less than 300 grams – and promises trail runners comfort, versatility and protection over middle and long distances.
[Advendure]: Dynafit has a strong team with experienced mountain athletes. Can you tell us a bit more about your mountain running team you have created and what are its objectives?
[DYNAFIT]: We are very proud of our athlete team – which is, considering the running team, growing from year to year. We support some young athletes with great performance. We organize yearly team meetings and our product managers work closely with most of them to get product feedback and involve them into special developments.
[Advendure]: Dynafit seems to have been engaging with the organization of mountain running races throughout Europe. What are the criteria a race should have in order for you to get involved? Running recently the Grossglockner Ultra-Trail, we saw how much this race was close to the philosophy of the Company.
[DYNAFIT]: We are a brand made from athletes for athletes and racing has always been part of our DNA. As brand for endurance mountain sports, we focus on ambitioned, alpine trail running and technical races like Großglockner Ultra-Trail – that really meet our Alpine character and philosophy. Finally, the sponsoring or cooperation is set from our national subsidiaries and often depends on capacity – in terms of budget and manpower. In general we prefer to start long-term partnerships and professional and proper collaboration instead of having short contracts and as many activities as possible.
[Advendure]: The X-Series Speed Transalp is an event that promotes both Dynafit’s products and values and most importantly is open to the trail running community. Can you tell us more about such a brilliant idea?
[DYNAFIT]: The X-Series Speed Transalp started as a team action from our brand manager Benedikt Böhm, line manager Schorsch Nickaes and athlete Javi Martin who climbed five summits in five days and five countries “by fair means” – without shuttles in 2010. Two years later seven DYNAFIT employees and athletes realized “X7”, climbing the highest peaks of the Alps within seven days. The idea of the Speed Transalp was born – years later the concept was changed to an end consumer event, but still with a high performance and alpine background. The participants were enthusiastic about the transalp – means crossing the Alps from Garmisch (Germany) to Meran (Italy) in four days…. experienced and well-trained runners can apply from May. The Speed Transalp takes place in September.
[Advendure]: We see too many technologies involved in each company’s products with acronyms that mostly confuse the inexperienced runner. How easy and how important is for the everyday runner to find what is suitable for him / her?
[DYNAFIT]: We think the best way to find the right equipment is the local dealer/ trail-running specialist. We trust in our partners and dealers and organize clinics to train their sales staff and to inform about our products and latest developments.
[Advendure]: Taking into consideration your vast experience, where is the mountain running industry currently focused and where is it heading?
[DYNAFIT]: We see a diversification with different needs and categories. Brands work on positioning themselves and develop special collections for categories such as Alpine Running, Ultra Running, Speed Hiking, Verticals or Skyraces. We estimate an increase of the market and trail-runners, but on the same time, Alpine Running is a niche segment. In general, the equipment is trimmed to lightweight and high quality fabrics. Less weight, more comfort through most technical material and as a product more support and speed for our users. DYNAFIT is a brand with alpine DNA and a sports endurance background and we are positioning there. We are presenting a collection for vertical and ultra racers, ambitioned mountain runners – and for summer 2017 for the first time a lifestyle collection for sportive daily use. Giving an insight in future planning: we will develop and enlarge all our collections – first in a qualitative way, but also regarding number of styles and models.
[Advendure]: We should thank you very much for this constructive conversation!