We often get asked why we didn’t work with sustainable materials at the start. The answer is twofold. Firstly, making a wetsuit is an incredibly complex process, fit being the most important factor; we are lucky to work with wetsuit master Mat D’Ascoli who understands this better than anybody. Secondly, when we started with the Nieuwland series of suits, alternatives to traditional neoprene were in their infancy. Our original design brief was hard enough and so to add another variable - that of new fabrics with unknown performance characteristics - would have been too much.
But building on our outlook of using innovation to achieve sustainability and seeking alternatives where possible, we have been trying and testing various patterns and forms of natural rubber. Durability and performance are key here, there’s obviously no point making a natural rubber suit that doesn’t perform or doesn’t last. As a brand, there’s also been a need for us to work with a supplier who has a traceable and sustainable source of natural rubber and that’s why we are working with Yulex.
Mat and I met Jeff Martin (Yulex CEO) to hear his story earlier this year. The company is one that Jeff has built on pride and doing the right thing. He’s been on quite a journey, originally developing a natural rubber source from the Guayule plant before moving to tree sources of natural rubber; the Guayule rubber solution contained too many impurities. The resulting solution is then naturally refined and is known as Yulex Pure™, being 99.9% free of impurities, and delivers a stronger, more elastic solution.