Photo: Taken by their water photographer, Justin Huitema,
from Orange County, CA. His friend is modeling the EXO2.
During my time in California, there is one thing that shocked me the most: people wear wetsuits. It’s warm out, the water is even warmer and everyone is there, surfing with their suits. I was in awe. Maybe they never experienced cold water surfing, so they can’t compare to what’s really cold, but in any case, something became clear to me. No matter where you are in the world, you need a wetsuit. Yes, even if you live in a warm country, you need one. I heard many people telling me that it helps you float or help you find the balance, while others are completely against it, saying that it ruins their surfing skills. No matter what’s real or not, we at least need one in our wardrobe (way more when you travel) and picking a brand to buy our wetsuits from is always overwhelming. There are so many! What’s the difference between them all? How can you pick one in all the choices?
As the cold season is coming and swells will be pumping in the West Coast (thanks to El Niño), we are at that point where we need to get our gear ready and buy what’s missing. It may seem expensive in the mind of some, but it lasts, which is a positive aspect. As it’s often a confusing moment of our life that involves some money as well, we decided to check some brands of wetsuits to see what they are offering us while learning a little more about their brands. I don’t know about you, but I always loved knowing personally the people I buy from. I trust them more in that way. So, who is the winner of our wetsuits love? Carapace Wetsuits.
Located in California and founded in 2012, Carapace are making their way into the surfing/diving world with the help of their premium custom-fit wetsuits. I am sure you encountered at least once in your life someone out in the water with their logo on. If not, it’s the time. Let it be you!
Nouvelle Vague: Where are you from and why did you want to be part of the surfing world?
Julius Lee: I am from Orange County, CA. I didn’t mean to get involved in the surf industry. When you follow things that make you happy, you end up in places you never thought you’d be. That’s how I got here. The ocean brought me here.
There are many companies that offer custom wetsuits, what is the difference with Carapace Wetsuits? What made you think that there was a lack of something in other companies?
We focus exclusively on delivering a custom-fit premium wetsuit at a fraction of the price of traditional custom-fit wetsuits. No one in the world is currently doing this. We are solely e-commerce (all online) so we go direct to consumer. We also use proprietary technology that allows us to create digital printouts of everyone’s patterns (traditionally done through chalk and stencils) which takes seconds versus hours.
Starting a company with the help of Kickstarter is pretty common now, which offer anyone a good help to create their projects. Were you surprised to receive that much money? Were you expecting a reaction like that from people over the world?
Let's just say that receiving 23 000$ from people that doesn't necessarily know you, but believe in your project, must be a good feeling!
From the mouth of Co-Founder Andrew Park: I thought Kickstarter was a perfect way to validate our business. The experience was cool; we got a lot of attention from the start-up community as well as the press. We felt like mini-rock stars for a month. After the project ended, it opened up our young minds. There was a lot more hard work to be done, and I’m really glad we worked our asses off to get from there to here. Big thanks to all of our supporters who have supported us from the beginning.
Where did you learn how to make wetsuits? This is not something everyone knows...
Andrew and Alex (Co-Founders) took apart their own wetsuits and many more to study its structure and production. They began cutting up neoprene sheets one by one and Andy taught himself how to blind stitch the wetsuits together. Mark Malinski (Former GM of Body Glove) and a former Body Glove pattern maker mentored Andy and Alex in their wetsuit endeavor.
How big is the team at Carapace?
The family at Carapace is tight-knit and close. Aside from our operations and marketing guys, we have our Tribe of surfers, divers, and water photographers. Check them out here (carapacewetsuits.com/blog/tribe)
I heard that when you order online, there is a particular system to get your measures. Can you tell me more about it?
Yes, this system is a 12-step measurement process. Our system will guide you (the waterman) through each step with a video tutorial. All you need is a tape measure and someone to measure you. It’s quick, simple, and easy to follow. Using your measurements, our system will then cut the patterns out to build your wetsuit.
There are two things that matter to surfers: quality and price. How much money can we expect to pay to get one of your wetsuit?
Depending on the wetsuit, our prices range. Our premium line starts out $490, where our performance line starts at $390. Our spring suits start at $240. Without the right fit, nothing else matters. It’s interesting to note that about 99% of wetsuits are manufactured by one factory. Choice is essentially an illusion. You’re getting the same materials and construction and the only thing different is the pattern work and therefore, the fit.
What are the goals for the company now that you are established and taking orders?
Our main goal is to continue growing and become a force to be reckoned with the big boys in the surf industry. Personally, I’m excited about multiple co-marketing partnerships with some larger action sports brands and our entire product launches which will include a full women’s line.
If we convinced you, order your custom wetsuits! The cold water season is there, so it's the perfect time!