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INNOVATION FROM THE GROUND UP
In a revolutionary experiment where raw athletic talent meets technical design superiority, RYU pioneered a new process for bringing tailored innovation to market. It began with the formation of BETA\375, the Research + Development Lab tasked with inventing the future of athletic performance.
Isolated from the daily running of the business, BETA\37.5 is where designers have the freedom to create and enjoy a lifestyle that reflected the brand. Here they were able to reinvent the actual design process, which was a combination of ideation and prototyping in a unique partnership with our suppliers.
A Revolution in Thinking
The intention behind BETA\37.5 was to create a distinct design lab that brought real user designer interface into one ideal location. We began by recruiting some of the best designers and product engineers in the world and put them in a remote mountainside environment and allowed them to work independently and hands-on in a way that is completely different than anywhere else.
For instance, it’s common practice in fashion today for designers to develop illustrations and send them overseas where they are turned into something that’s a representation of the original idea. RYU’s vision was different. Instead of sending sketches or computer drawings to the factories, we mandated that our design teams physically build actual prototypes in-house - a lost art in the apparel industry. Then we take those same prototypes, beat the crap out of them, refine them, rebuild them, and make them better.
Our process is completely hands-on. It’s trial and error. By the time we finish building products they’ll get used more than if they were actually in the field. You might build a hundred versions of something and it might get used for six to twelve months. It’s not just this theoretical test. It’s not just putting fabric in a washing machine and saying ‘ok it’s done the 30 wash test’. No, we’ve worn it for six months. We’ve used it. We’ve seen the outcome.
- Nathan Kukathas, RYU Designer
Rather than focusing on individual hero pieces, our design lab focused on creating entire collections that have been strategically curated to solve problems for athletes. This includes There + Back, Train + Develop, and Rest + Recovery. Their vision has already paid off with the creation of a brand new apparel category: Urban Athletic Tailored Technical Training Apparel. Featuring intellectual properties, revolutionary patent-pending innovations and disruptive technology unlike anything the industry has ever seen before.
Award Winning Results
Within 6 months of opening our Flagship store in Vancouver, RYU has been recognized by some of the top design awards in the world. Our Carry System in particular has gained international notoriety for our design lab.
Quick Pack Lux
Silver A'Design Award for Excellence
The Fashion and Travel Accessories Design category recognizes world-class products, prototypes, and/or concepts exhibiting exceptional form, function, innovation and aesthetics. The awards are decided by a panel of international media, established designers, leading academics and prominent entrepreneurs and are presented each year in Italy.
Created by BETA\37.5, RYU's Quick Pack Lux is designed for athletes by athletes to work for all parts of life including to and from home, the gym, and work. The bag's sleek aesthetic contrasts a muted exterior with shiny interior, artfully capturing the brand's 'Beautiful Tough' mantra.
Locker Pack Lux
Nominated by Carryology for Best Work Backpack.
Carryology is a website driven by designers, retailers and overall bag enthusiasts who test and review carry gear for "fitness of purpose". They study construction, innovation and overall functionality for bags that transport the important pieces of our day-to-day lives. These are people who actively use and test bags and backpacks in both urban and outdoor environments, looking at all aspects of their design to confirm maximum performance and quality combined with modern style and versatility.
According to Carryology, "Labelling RYU as 'Arc'teryx for the gym' would be under-selling their early achievements. Despite the obvious DNA of former bird employees, RYU are working hard to redefine formats and approaches, such as those found in the Locker Pack. A novel drop-front opening allows for great access and doubles as a portable locker, perfect for flying by the gym. Minimalist patterning creates visual interest. And a great mix of fabrics adds some suave office appeal.
They say inspiration can strike when you least expect it. For me, it was when I was pounding out mileage along Vancouver's legendary Spanish Banks.
The sun had just begun to rise as I reached for my run capris and a brightly colored racerback tank to go for my morning training run. I headed down to the beach and joined the score of athletes already on the path. As I settled in to a steady pace, I noticed how well I fit in with everyone there. We all looked exactly the same. Like we had all bought the same clothes from the same store at the same time.
Then I saw her.
She was beautiful, tough and disruptive. Wearing what looked like her boyfriend's t-shirt and a pair of loose fitting university "gym" shorts. She looked so cool and confident. She was running to run. Not to fit in. Then it hit me. In this endless sea of sameness she was not wearing the running uniform. So why was I? Why were any of us?
I was still thinking about this when I got home. Before you know it I had grabbed a big pair of scissors and proceeded to cut up all my iconic Wonder Woman t-shirts. Then I cut off and hemmed up a pair of old basketball shorts. I cut sleeves off sweatshirts and bands off the bottoms of all my shorts.
I broke the uniform. And it felt good.
We kept this concept of "Breaking the Uniform" in mind when we first began to sketch and select fabrics for the new RYU collections. Our training gear is not in jellybean colors. It's not cluttered and overbuilt. Instead it's functional. Wearable. Clean lines, modern cuts and tailored fits allow you to wear these pieces anytime of the day, not just when you’re training. Subdued color palettes are accented with a few bold colors to create a distinctly fashionable, wearable look. Most importantly, we designed it with the kind of details athletes crave. Hidden pockets, locker loops, flat cords, TriLayr waistband construction and a score of technical features to enhance your performance. We're making it tough enough for your hardest workout and beautiful enough to fit your life outside of training. Speaking of which, I've got to get a run in today. Maybe I'll head down to the beach again. You never know what I might see.
Juliet Korver is Product & Design Director at RYU. Stay tuned for more posts from Juliet as she writes about being an athlete and a designer. Like what you see? Subscribe to our newsletter for great training articles, exclusive offers, and priority access to new product releases.
Want to see what breaking the uniform really looks like? Check it out when we launch our new flagship store Fall 2015.