In many sports, there is a big difference between the technical clothing that is required by professionals and those who ‘do’, and the more fashion-based apparel that is sold to those who want to look the part. Sailing is a sport where understanding the requirements of participants means the difference between success and failure.
Brands that have the respect of sailors have been tried and tested in anger in demanding competition, the theory being that if Jacket Y keeps sailor X warm and dry during the Vendee Globe, it will be more than enough for winter in the Solent or the waters of Rhode Island. Technical research and development and testing then provide a barrier to entry for sailing apparel that means new entrants are relatively uncommon.
On the fashion side of things, Camper are positioning themselves to sailors via their Volvo Ocean Race project, while on the technical side, Clarks are bringing a new product to market.
Clarks, a name more associated with school shoes and desert boots, have announced that they will enter the sailing market with a new technical boat shoe. British Olympic Gold Medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson will be brand ambassadors for the product range.
Unlike PUMA, who have had mixed success with their entry into the sailing market after being technically excellent in other sports, Clarks see sailing as the perfect sport in which to entry into elite level sports product.
An un-named Clarks Sport Marketing Manager said in the press statement:
“We are delighted to be working with Iain and Andrew. We have developed a highly technical best in class boat shoe as a flagship product for the nautical Clarks collection and we could think of no better people to work with than a team which has won European, World and Olympic titles. We are keen to support British sporting talent and Iain and Andrew have proved over many years that they can compete on a global stage and continually deliver success. Elite level product, worn by the best athletes in the world puts Clarks at the forefront of footwear innovation.”
Iain Percy, British Double Gold Olympic Medallist, who has recently been wearing Henri Lloyd gear as part of America’s Cup challenger TEAMORIGIN said:
“The Clarks sailing range is perfectly suited to the challenging environments we face as athletes. The ‘Rock’ technology ensures that no matter what conditions we encounter as a team we have confidence in our footing at all time. The Atsu footbed ensures that as well as being functional the shoes give maximum comfort through the constant massaging of our feet. This ensures when we are spending hours at a time on our feet that we are kept feeling revitalized”
Andrew Simpson, British Gold Olympic Medallist said:
“Often the issue sailors face most with their footwear is when it gathers water and becomes heavy and cumbersome. With the AquaDX technology in our Clarks boat shoes, we never have this worry as the water is constantly drained through the shoe without affecting the weight or grip.”