VYRL: The Latest from HyperFlex Wetsuits
HyperFlex VYRL Wetsuits
We’re excited to announce the launch of VYRL wetsuits – the latest line of suits from HyperFlex. We spoke to Nick Lassor, Director of Marketing and Product Development for the brand about this new product line and what it’s all about. Read on for more!
What’s your role at HyperFlex?
I’m the Director of Marketing & Product Development. Long title and even longer job description. I manage our Marketing and Product Teams, which include traditional and digital marketing, external professional athletes, graphic design and product research & development. It’s a lot but I enjoy all aspects of it. Nothing like seeing an idea start from a sketch and manage it all the way through design, manufacturing and creating a launch campaign. Being a part of each step helps me develop a complete understanding of the product and how it benefits our customers.
Are you stuck behind the desk much or do you still get out on the water as much as you thought you would?
Yeah, I’m out on the water quite a bit. I do have 2.5 kids (one on the way) so they take up a lot of my free time but I still get a decent amount of time out there. A perk of working for a wetsuit company is that going surfing is considered R&D.
Hearing a lot about VYRL. What’s it all about? Is it simply an update to Cyclone-2 or a whole new ballgame?
It’s a complete redesign. There’s no smooth skin on the chest or back which prevents tears. The VYRL line features an AQ micro fleece lining with a brushed finish which is quick drying and super soft. There’s also a minimal seam design for serious range of motion.
What’s the biggest selling point/advantage to this new brand line?
Definitely the value.
Can you tell us a little bit about the rubber?
It’s a proprietary limestone blend which has 250% more stretch. Even the inner/outer lining can handle that intense of a stretch. The Quantum Foam neoprene has these large infused cells in the foam strata which creates that awesome stretch and lightweight feel. These suits also have more stretch because they don’t have liquid taping which can be a bit restricting. We can compete here with the VYRL line as we focus more on rubber with our 50 years of experience in manufacturing wetsuits; it’s all we do!
Why is VYRL spelled like that?
Naming a new line of products is difficult. Even when you think you have the best idea, most likely someone else has probably used it before. We do a complete trademark search and look for other variations of the same name in the same market. For example, we launched our VooDoo line a few years ago and there was no hint of anyone else having anything close to VooDoo in the market. We registered the name and moved forward with the marketing campaign. The same year (a few months later) Body Glove launched a line of wetsuits named Voodoo. Hyperflex was the first out with the name but, to no fault to Body Glove, they came up with the same name, the same year, with their new line of wetsuits.
As we were putting the final touches to the product design for VYRL, we started our naming process. After hitting a bit of a hiccup with VooDoo we decided that the name should be unique and have no chance of being confused with anything else out there. We looked at the benefits that the new line offers and a two things were key:
1. Stretch/Fit: This line is made up of the most stretchy materials available with minimal seams and the fit is on point. This creates the idea of not feeling like you have anything on but that the suit feels like it’s part of you. In this case, VYRL is a play off of the word Virus in that it takes over and becomes part of you.
2. Price: The VYRL series is priced so well for suits that have this much stretch and features that it allows anyone to have access to a wetsuit that isn’t stiff and boardy but doesn’t break the bank. We believe this will allow the VYRL line to quickly and widely spread throughout the market and benefit the surf community in general.
The word VIRAL has some connotations now with social media and online videos but that wasn’t our focus. VIRAL in its normal spelling is everywhere. There is no way that we could stand out online naming a product series with a word that is so widely used but we liked how the word explained this new line of products. After going through 1,000 other possible names, the president of our company threw out the VYRL variation of VIRAL to us and we all immediately thought it worked.
VYRL is your first major launch at HyperFlex. From inception to final prototypes, how long of a process is a launch like this?
It took about 18 months from inception to delivering products to our retailers. Inception to final prototypes took about 12 months. We had very close prototypes finished around 6 months and they were used for in water testing and trade shows. Once we receive feedback we make our final tweaks and order final samples.
Do the first prototypes get made in Jersey? By hand? Is that a one-person job at HSG?
We create all of our patterns in our facility in NJ, so we start by producing basic fit prototypes for our fit models and tweak the patterns until we feel it’s good enough for actual prototypes. Once we receive them, we evaluate every detail including: fit, finish, branding, stretch, seam durability, reinforcements, price, etc. and decide on any major changes. Once this is complete we get a solid run of suits made for in water testing, marketing purposes and to confirm the changes we made on the first round worked.
Any major or laughable speed bumps/road blocks to share?
There are always plenty of good and bad ideas thrown around when designing a new product. The VYRL series had plenty of both. One thing we try to do before we make the first round of prototypes is layout the graphical elements (colors, placement of the logos, etc.) but what looks good on a design mock up doesn’t always translate well into an actual product. There are tonal circuit board style designs on the wrist of some of the VYRL series wetsuits. When we created the first round of samples the circuit boards were not tonal and we had them on the wrist, ankle and on the left shoulder of the chest zip suits. It was way over the top and the one on the shoulder looked like armpit hair if you put the suit on. We received those samples only a week or two before Surf Expo (huge surfing trade show) and had to show the armpit hair samples… Needless to say, we dropped the shoulder circuit board along with the ankle and changed the color to tonal (black on black suits, blue on blue suits) and it’s a nice clean look.
Will the full line of VYRL include boots and accessories eventually or just wetsuits?
The HyperFlex VYRL Wetsuits line is a complete line of suits and tops but no accessories at this time. We do have a bunch of new accessories launching this fall. The VYRL line currently includes: Men’s chest zip springsuits and 3/2mm chest zip fullsuits & 4/3mm chest zip fullsuits, men’s back zip shorty springsuits and l/s springsuits as well as fullsuits (3/2mm, 4/3mm and 5/4mm), women’s back zip springsuits and women’s fullsuits, junior’s chest zip fullsuits, and some wetsuit tops.
What are you hearing from your athletes regarding performance?
We have about twenty athletes – a handful on the East Coast and the rest in California. There has been tons of positive feedback on the stretch and quality. No failures yet! They’ve said that this line of suits competes on every level with anything else on the market.
How do you test new suits like this?
Once the fit is established, that’s when the testing begins! The team riders go out and surf these suits hard and report back to us. We mostly just get feedback on the fit and then go from there.
Based on the excitement levels at Expo, what do you think will be the top 3 best sellers in the VYRL line?
The 3/2mm and 4/3mm chest zip suits are always huge sellers and the pricing of the suits at $159.95 and $174.95 respectively, is making these suits move fast! Outside of those two styles, I think the springsuits and the flatlock suits will kill it. Both are priced at $99.95 for super stretch and are incredibly comfortable suits. You can’t find a full stretch suit under $100 anywhere in the market.
What’s your favorite piece and why?
Since I surf, I’ve tested the 3/2mm and 4/3mm fullsuits so far. Because of the water temps, 4/3mm feels like a 3/2 and the 3/2mm one feels like nothing on. They’re super easy to get in and out of and have a good neck seal. It’s a simple design and they’re definitely super comfortable suits.
Finally, anything new on the horizon at HyperFlex?
There are always plenty of new items we’re working on… I would say the below list is confirmed and some launching soon:
- All new accessories (gloves, boots, hoods) launching late summer through winter.
- New rash guards. They’ll be available in about two weeks.
- Updates to our current VooDoo series. Biggest change is the fit on the ankle, wrist with some other minor changes. The suits are great but just needed some tweaking.
- New VYRL items: VYRL has already proven to be super successful so we’ll be looking to expand the line with some additional women’s suits, hooded suits, tops, etc.