Founded in 2002, the young company immersed themselves in the lifestyle surrounding action and adventure sports. Nearly 16 years later, they’ve created a demand for their streetwear-inspired apparel, rooted in surfing and skateboarding.
Imperial Motion found success in both markets, thus deciding to expand their approach to surfing in 2015 – when they introduced customizable wetsuits. After gaining traction and knowing that custom suits limit their market due to high price tags and long waiting periods, they added non-customizable suits at a lower pricepoint to their line last year.
This move sparked a lot of interest in the surf industry, so we decided to reach out to Co-Founder Spencer Goetz to see if the new strategy was something they were just trying out, or if we can expect to see more expansion in this category.
When did you guys get into the surf industry and what made you want to make the move into wetsuits?
We got into the surf industry pretty early on. We’ve been making boardshorts for about eleven years and that naturally evolved into building a more in-depth program which spiralled into wetsuits.
Why did you feel like wetsuits was a category that made sense?
We were making wetsuits for our team riders and the feedback was awesome – so we decided to make some for the consumer as well. Up until last year, our only wetsuit option was a fully customizable program where you could select from a variety of colorways and neoprene options. That program continues to perform very well for us – but because not everyone wants to pay for a custom suit, we wanted to find a way to broaden our audience. We spent a lot of time figuring out how to sell high quality suits at an affordable price.
Who is the designer?
I designed last season’s suits and the current collection of men’s and women’s wetsuits.
How are you sourcing your materials?
Our Lux Custom wetsuits come from a provider in Japan while our Lux Deluxe and Lux Classics are made from a provider in China. We worked out a great deal with them and are able to use premium Japanese neoprene. We are very happy with the response we’ve gotten from our customers.
One of our goals with our wetsuits was to make it so warm that you could wear a 3/2 in conditions that usually require a 4/3, and a 4/3 in conditions that usually require a 5/4/3.
Starting this fall, we are releasing a new line of wetsuits from a provider in Vietnam.
Where do you see your highest volume of sales?
Evo and internationally. We’ve had a great relationship with Evo for a while and they’ve helped us a ton. Another place we see a high volume of sales is through our distributor in South Korea. They’ve helped us drive sales in Portugal, Uruguay and Peru.
How has the local surf community responded to Imperial Motion’s wetsuits?
Very well. But at the same time, it’s tricky because even though the Pacific Northwest is a great place to test wetsuits due to the cold water, for at least eight months of the year, it’s so cold here that you need a hood, booties and gloves to surf. So even though we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from our local surf community, we think that the best way to amplify that is to make wetsuits with hoods and provide a line of booties and gloves as well.
Next fall, those products will hit the market. We also plan on introducing a spring suit and women’s line this fall – All in stride to expand our market.
Do you have any plans with new retailers for the spring suit line?
A big focus for this new collection is to expand our international footprint in a big way. We have already seen a ton of international growth since the initial wetsuit launch and we’re seeing continued opportunity to expand into new countries. On top of that, we are really focusing on our direct-to-consumer model and working closely with key retail partners like evo to create unique product capsules and tell the IM brand story.
Who are some of your most well-known team riders and affiliates – Do you have plans of sponsoring anyone on the tour?
Our most well-known team riders are Alex Smith, Anthony Walsh and Benji Brand. We’re not trying to have a huge roster of affiliates. Our philosophy is to get the attention and really highlight those that we do have on the team. In other words, give them what they need and make sure they’re happy. We are huge believers in taking an organic approach, and think that what we have going on now is treating us very well.
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