Dynafit launches first summer line at global retail event in Germany

A pure wintersports brand since its inception more than six decades ago, Dynafit has launched its first summer line, taking on the motto “Speed up” and aiming for a high-end alpine running and biking audience. SNEWS attended the global kickoff in Germany. Plus, we get a peek at Salewa's new Bolzano, Italy, headquarters and climbing gym.

After more than eight years under Salewa company ownership as a pure wintersports brand, Dynafit has launched its first summer line, taking on the motto “Speed up” and aiming for a high-end alpine running and biking audience.

Kicked off at a huge fling in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany – the home of the 1936 Olympics in the Bavarian alps – the line was seen and tested July 3-5 by global retailers and distributors, as well as select press, at the event attended by SNEWS®.

Under the shadow of the Olympic ski jumps and surrounded by some 180 tents, where attendees camped for two nights (photo, left), Salewa President Heiner Oberrauch showed off the line of apparel, footwear and equipment to more than 400 attendees from 15 countries, including approximately 27 from the United States.

“Today we have the first snow leopard baby,” Oberrauch announced to the crowd, referring to the Dynafit logo, right. “Now we are launching the Dynafit baby – Dynafit for summer.”

Aimed at maintaining the German-Italian company’s alpine heritage, Oberrauch declared that it was important to remain authentic to the Dynafit brand; therefore, the product was all about alpine running and alpine biking, he said, stressing that it was not just mountain or trail running and mountain biking. (photo, below, Oberrauch, far left, prepares to bike with the group ... after taking a call).

On the other hand, pointed out group brand director Reiner Gerstner later to the U.S. representatives there, “Salewa stands for mountaineering. Salewa stands for mountain.” Salewa, which opened its U.S. subsidiary in January 2007 (www.salewa.com) under the direction of Chris Sword, will exhibit at Outdoor Retailer for the first time at Summer Market 2011, while Dynafit (www.dynafit.us) will launch its new summer product line at select retailers berfore exibiting at Winter Market 2012.

“Dynafit feels that its ‘Speed Up’ lifestyle has a place in every season of the year,” Sword told SNEWS. “The athletes who love the brand want it in the summer and can clearly benefit from the four cornerstones of the brand -- speed, lightness, technology, and performance -- that are not tied to snow.

“We have created a line of clothing and footwear designed to take you farther, deeper, and higher into your summer’s adventures,” added Sword (photo, left: Sword, left, with retailer Paul Fish of MountainGear, high above the tent village touring the ski jump). The so-called X4 line will include dozens of pieces, including pants, shorts, tops, jackets, shirts, socks, shoes, light packs, as well as gloves, hats and poles, which come from the brand’s winter heritage.

On the second evening of the event in Germany, a fashion show (photo, right) including mountain bikers doing tricks, showed off the products and caught the attention of some of the U.S. team (photo, left, from left: Dynafit's Keith Patterson, sales rep Jason Telford with camera, Jayson Faulkner and James Retty of Canadian retailer Escape Route, and sales rep Paul Dukich).


Benedikt Boehm, Dynafit director who oversees the company’s ski division, told the audience at the Garmisch event, that the Dynafit will “always do what we are, and we won’t try to be what we are not.”

Boehm explained how three year’s of development led to the X4 line, with himself and four others taking on an adventure in October 2010 for a final test, which also led to the name of the collection. The group included Boehm, of the former German national ski mountaineering team; Schorsch Nickaes, Dynafit product manager and of the former Germany national ski team; Javier Martin de Villa, Spanish ski touring national team coach and Dynafit’s athlete manager; Elmar Tritscher, Dynafit sales manager; and Pete Swenson, Dynafit’s U.S. brand activation manager and three-time U.S. ski mountaineering champion (photo, below, left to right, Tritscher, de Villa, Swenson, Nickaes and Boehm).

The group took on four summits in four days in four countries: Germany’s Zugspitze (2,962 meters), Austria’s Similaun (3,606 meters), Italy’s Ortler (3,905 meters), and Switzerland’s Piz Palu (3,901 meters). Click here to see a short video showing the group and the product during the X4 adventure.

The summer market “is a difficult market,” Gerstner said later, “but it will be a successful market in the future.”

Features by category:

>> Apparel: athletic fit, lightness, body mapping with micro-mesh for ventilation, silica laminates in stress zones, and ventilation zones integrated into pockets. And “made in Italy.”

>> Footwear: zoned Vibram outsole for a “claw grip,” athletic fit, hidden lacing, ballistic rubber toe bumper and a so-called “aura activator,” which is a small embedded chip-like piece in the sole that the company said will “increase the athlete’s performance, resistance and equilibrium through the activation of a biocompatible wave (no word on if the “activator” has been tested).”

>> Equipment: athletic design, equipment integrations such as hooks on packs to help support bikes, and lightweight.

Key products, some of which were used on a full-day outing July 4 either alpine biking or running, include:

>> Transalper Convertible Jacket – A long-sleeve jacket (photo, left) with wind-breaking inserts in key places that converts with a quick pull on a sleeve zipper to a short-sleeve jersey. The zipper, which angles front and back toward the neckline, has a “quick release” pull in the middle of the shoulder to the rear that pulls apart the zipper and allows a user to slip the sleeves off (putting them back on takes a bit more practice, users found, but U.S. retailers in attendance said they liked the concept although it was not tested). MSRP $269.95

>> Gravel Full Zip Shirt – A long-sleeve full-zip version of the Trail Short Sleeve Tee tested (MSRP $119.95), with additional features. Lightweight, plus an eyeglass wipe comes in one of the pockets of all tops. MSRP $199.95

>> Altitude PrimaLoft Jacket (photo, right)– A lightweight, athletic cut, full-zip jacket lightly filled with PrimaLoft. Although not tested, it caught the eye of the U.S. team. (MSRP $199.95)

>> Demo Windbreaker Jacket(photo, left) – Also not tested, the jacket with hood was used by several Salewa representatives, causing U.S. team members to drool a bit. Weighing in at a bare four ounces the mini ripstop nylon shell packed small yet seemed to offer good protection. MSRP $129.95

>> Shore U Shorts (photo, below right)– Casual-looking, longer-cut, stretchy shorts with mesh inserts, quick-drying materials, a flexible back yoke and adjustable waistband. Tested during the event, U.S. representatives noted they loved the fit and the style, as well as the multiple pockets that remained accessible whether biking, running or with or without pack. Looser cut to allow a bike liner with a chamois. MSRP $129.95

>> Feline Superlight and Gore-Tex Shoes(photo, left) – A lighter weight 9.5-ounce (U.S. men’s 9, one shoe), running shoe with deep lugs in the zoned outsole to use multiple densities of Vibram. A lower-to-the-ground fit that allowed users on the test run to feel the ground without feeling rocks poking into the foot. Laces covered by a sheath to keep out debris so the shoe adjusts at the top, per usual, while the bottom laces adjust with a pull tab that protrudes from the sheath. The "Aura Activator" is the white dot in the center of the arch. MSRPs $149.95 (Superlight) and $179.95 (Gore-Tex).

>> X4 Performance Pack(right) – Super lightweight, 12-liter pack that converts with a horizontal zip above side bottle pockets to a hip pack. Waistband closes with a hook as does a sternum strap. A mesh flap can unfurl to carry a bike helmet. Unisex. MSRP $89.95

According to U.S. director Sword, the product will not yet be applicable to every consumer and that’s the reason the company in the United States will start only with select retailers, many of whom are already winter Dynafit retailers, for example British Columbia, Canada-based Escape Route, MountainGear.com, and Elephant’s Perch in Sun Valley, Idaho.

“The plan of attack is to target Americas leading specialty outdoor, running, and bike shops,” Sword said, “and offer Dynafit as an aspirational premium product. Our goal is not to blanket the market but rather target the specialty outdoor enthusiast.”

He said he is confident in the acceptance of the line because of Dynafit’s heritage.

“Dynafit is the world’s only 100-percent backcountry-focused brand with the full product line to prove it,” he said. “ No other brand can claim this, and the extension into the summer is a natural step.”

--Therese Iknoian

New Salewa headquarters in Bolzano nearly ready

After having traveled so far, the U.S. team at the event had an extra treat of traveling to Salewa’s Italian headquarters in Bolzano, Italy, for a tour of its nearly completed new office building. Already the fully automated distribution center has moved in, but the rest of the company will move into the nearly 200,000-square-foot building, which has won architectural acclaim, later in July.

Opened in mid-May, however, is what has been dubbed the “Cube,” or the first indoor climbing facility in the region that is a full climbing and fitness gym open to public membership and use. It has 180 separate routes of all levels in its 21,500-foot facility.

As the group toured the building, prior to heading out to a Via Ferrata in the Dolomites the next day (photo, left, at the completion of the Tridentina Via Ferrata: Iknoian, center, with sales rep John Horsnell, left, and Aspen Expeditions guide Dirk Bockelmann, right, at the Hut Pisciadu), the to-be living roof was being groomed to lay sod. Salewa President Heiner Oberrauch (photo, below right) showed off the sustainability of the CO2-emission free design, locally sourced materials, and the community park planned for the property.

“We want to open up and communicate with the area of Bolzano,” Oberrauch told U.S. representatives – before interrupting the tour for a moment when a yodel erupted from his pocket: his cellphone. He politely answered “I’m busy” as three dozen U.S. visitors waited, then hung up quickly to continue the tour.

Oberrauch noted that the ecological qualities of the EUR 40 million (USD $57.2 million) building were the right thing to implement. He pointed out room dividers and sound barriers made of heavy, green, tightly woven “loden” wool popular in the area. Producing its own power, the building will also sell that back to the region as excess is made, he said.

“You can’t speak of sustainability if you are not willing to change,” he said. “You have to be honest.”

-- T.I.


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