By Louise Ramsay
It started with a sock. Not any old sock, but a super-functional one that wasn’t quite like anything else. Then there was an innovative jacket. The patents for cutting-edge technology textiles began to pile up - and 12 years later X-BIONIC is a market leader in its field with a dizzying array of must-have products in its repertoire.
A specialist in performance gear for road cyclists and mountain bikers, X-BIONIC is also involved in a whole host of other sports, including winter sports, tennis, running, fitness and motorsports and is represented in the UK by country manager David Hemming.
He says: “Essentially, our development of our technology never stops. With our involvement in so many different sports, analysis of technology utilised in one discipline and the performance gains we discover can cross-pollinate into another and so the cycle continues.
“We’re the leaders in 3D knit construction. We research physiological adaptations seen in nature to develop textile improvements in form, fit and function.”
Italian-made, X-BIONIC prides itself on the quality of its products. “It’s really important to us,” Hemming says. “We want our clients and end consumers to feel that quality when they first hold a garment and then further appreciate that once they have tried it on and worn the item for their sport.”
X-BIONIC also claims that using its products enables athletes to go faster - but can this really be true?
“Not only faster, but stronger and with more energy,” Hemming says. “So many sports focus on the hardware that is needed to compete in or enjoy the sport. We focus on textiles to become a true second skin as functional as your own skin to give performance gains like no other brand, resulting in an experience that makes you a better athlete.”
Hemming further explains X-BIONIC’s credentials through its new Apani merino range: “Sure, everybody is doing merino, but not like us. Our 3D knit technology allows us to generate a better fit, including our 3D Bionic Sphere on the front and back of the product, and ISO panels on the elbows and shoulders. These features give the user better heat and sweat management that is unparalleled.”
All characteristics unique to X-BIONIC, they are patented technologies and feature in all product ranges, across all outdoor pursuits, including the new Twyce running and cycling range, which launches in April.
Founder and visionary
The driving force behind X-BIONIC’s success is founder professor Bodo Lambertz.
“He’s a visionary,” Hemming says. “He’s constantly telling me his ideas and stories of how to make things work better. His passion and energy is contagious. He’s a great inspiration to us all and combined with Marco Rendini, his business partner, their plans in textile development are very forward thinking.
“They’re the reason X-BIONIC has such a vast collection of awards for clothing innovation.”
Of course, lots of brands have great products, but what else about X-BIONIC makes it unique?
“The key thing is we don’t want to work with the big web retailer companies,” Hemming says. “We are focused on long-term partnerships with true bricks and mortar stores. Our Trick, Effektor and other product ranges offer differentiation from all the other brands on the market.
“Our connection to the industry is also special. We don’t want a three-year, flash-in-the-pan programme in the UK. We are already looking 10 years down the road to what stable, committed bricks and mortar growth looks like.
“The fact we don’t manufacture products for anyone else and don’t license our technology to anyone else makes it unique to our retailers.”
Other evidence of X-BIONIC’S commitment include its X-BIONIC Sphere.
“It’s our one million square metre sports facility in Slovakia, which we’ve built to further understand and cater for sportsmen and sportswomen’s needs,” Hemming says.
Such dedication to excellence means X-BIONIC products don’t come cheap, but Hemming explains why this isn’t an issue:
“It’s always important to compare cost of a product with its use. Take brands like Arcytyrx and Spyder. We sell our ski clothing in that price bracket and the consumer accepts quality costs. But because the average UK skier only gets onto the slopes about eight days a year, you could say that in the UK the products appear expensive. Yet the market has accepted the in line retail price for market leading technical products like X-BIONIC.
“So when we look at other sport’s price per use, say running and cycling, the costs are diminished very quickly to very little, based on high amounts of use. When compared to buying cheaper products that have to be replaced more frequently, the value becomes very clear - buy cheap, buy twice. When you buy X-BIONIC products, you are buying high quality.
“It’s important to remember too that all pricing in the UK has been adjusted to be in line with mainland Europe retail pricing. By doing this, we have dropped into the same price brackets as all of our competition. This has resulted in instant growth.”
X-BIONIC’s 3D-Bionic Sphere, which is used in all base layers, jerseys and jackets is the big draw.
“It represents great value for money and is loaded with technology,” Hemming says. “From the 3D-Bionic Sphere, NODOR and 3D knit seamless construction, there is so much functionality to talk about. Base layers are a great cost effective way for retailers to sell our brand technology to the consumer, which then supports high stock rotation.
“We also recommend retailers stock our X-socks. They’re available across all sporting sectors for every outdoor activity you care to mention.”
X-BIONIC has been working hard to grow its network of retail partners across all sporting channels in the UK.
“As of April 1, X-BIONIC will also have taken full control of all management of sales, marketing and events within the UK across all sports,” Hemming says.
“Later in the year the plan is to add a flagship X-BIONIC store here in the UK, along with a UK office, customer service team and showroom. This will enable us to improve the service we can provide to our UK retailers to further increase sales and brand growth.”