“All inflatable SUPs are the same aren’t they?”
That’s something we hear quite a lot. Another one is “All iSUPs are made in the same factory aren’t they?”
Well, let us take you on a little journey…
Back in 2018, when we started making SUP apparel, we thought that one organic fairtrade cotton tee was the same any another fairtrade cotton tee. We thought that any factory that printed digital to garment was the same as any other. After all, they can’t be that different right? So we chose the one that a few pennies cheaper.
On the left is a top quality, top dollar organic, fairtrade tee from one factory, on the right is a top quality, top dollar organic, fairtrade tee from a different factory.
See the difference?
On the left is what the neck on one t-shirt from a (yes, you guessed it) top quality, top dollar organic tee company after a few washes. On the right is one from another blah, blah, blah.
Again – spot the difference?
And it wasn’t just tees either. We found the same with hoodie printing.
On the left is a printed organic fairwear hoodie from yet another factory/printer, and on the right, from ou current printer.
So, top dollar, top drawer product from similar factories perform very differently over time. Some last very well and look as good as they did on the day they were bought. Others, not so much. And that’s for something as simple to produce as a printed t-shirt or hoodie.
Now think about inflatable paddle boards. There’s a lot more technology on an iSUP than in a t-shirt. And there are lots of ways companies can (and do) cut costs – from not using marine grade stainless steel on metal components, to using cheaper valves, or cheaper glue and welding methods. Not applying UV protection is another way that many companies cut costs. Or using cheaper, more brittle, or non standard fitting fin boxes. And most of these cost cutting measures aren’t apparent on the day you buy your board, but can only be seen over time. And they affect the longevity and performance or your board over time, and the resale value of your board when you decide to upgrade.
Most are now desperately finding ways to trim little costs out of their boards to hit a mythical price sweet spot and to compete with the likes of Decathlon or Lidl. You might have noticed the downward drag in the market – with brands that used to have an RRP of around £600 – £700 now being sold most of the year round at around the £500 or less mark. And that’s against a backdrop of increasing wage and raw material costs in China (well that was true pre COVID19). So if prices are coming down, then something has to give (1). And that something is almost certainly quality.
Each to their own of course, but we don’t thing that’s good for the environment or good business sense. We believe that making inflatable boards that last for decades should be the aim, not making disposable, fashion items to be upgraded every couple of years. So we will always use the very best materials irrespective of cost, and we will not compromise on quality.
So back to where we started. A t-shirt isn’t just a t-shirt. And inflatable SUPs aren’t all the same.
If you’re as passionate as we are about ethics and sustainability, and want an inflatable SUP that lasts for many years, then nothing rivals our gear for longevity and robustness. And we honestly, truly, believe that you cannot get a more honest, a more hard working, or a more ethical and sustainable board if you buy from anyone else.
(1) It’s also possible that some companies are deliberately under-pricing in order to buy market share and undermine the market. As one brand own said to us recently “…especially considering our new much lower pricing, but this is because we now have the big brands in our sights and we don’t need to make profit for a few years yet”.