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Interviews

Raincheck – Andrew Shandro & Helly Hanson

We reported last issue that Freerider Andrew Shandro has recently hooked up a deal with outdoor performance clothing giant Helly Hansen (HH), in what many see as a partnership made in heaven, that will benefit both parties greatly. I wanted to find out a little more about their plans, what kind of products they were working on and what involvement Shandro would have. It is early days yet but Shandro has already flown over from BC, Canada, to HH HQ in Norway for meetings and to discuss product lines. I asked him how his involvement with HH first came about, “I had heard through a friend of mine (who is a writer) that Helly Hansen was considering making a move in to the mountainbike world. I contacted Oliver Flaser, the Canadian marketing manager, about the possibilities of working together. Fortunately for me a few of the Global marketing folks follow the freeride mountainbike scene. Oliver really made the deal happen.”

I was keen to know what Shandro’s role within the company would be. Was he seen as just the face of the HH mountain bike range or as a product developer, or in fact both? “I’m definitely tied in to both marketing and product development. On my recent trip to Oslo I was introduced to the company as an athlete. I was also included in a number of product based meetings.”

But I needed to know more, so I got in touch with Oliver Flaser, the Canadian marketing manager and Shandro’s first contact at Helly, to see what information he could give us.

Dirt: Tell us a bit about Helly Hansen?

Ollie: The Global Head office is in Moss, Norway, just South of Oslo. We also have regional offices in over 20 countries.

Will you be bringing out a mountain bike specific range?

The range will be Mountainsports based with mountainbike applications and Freeride design influences.

What will it include? What kind of cut and fabric?

The package will include shorts, jerseys, jackets. Fabrics will include LIFA versa technology. A plaited fabric that has LIFA (polypropylene) next to the skin, and polyester on the outer layer. Also Helly Hansen’s soft shell fabric called Interface, which is great for breathability and water resistance. Outerwear will include an ultralight fabric called e–Lite and a proven waterproof and breathable technology called HellyTech and HellyTech XP.

What kind of colours and shapes are you looking for in the mountain bike range?

Colours will be based on relevant colours of the season. Stay tuned!

Are there any new super–tech fabrics that we are about to find out about?

E-Lite, LIFA Versa and LIFA.

Merino wool seems to be big here in the UK at the moment as a base and mid layer material, how do Helly view the use of Merino as opposed to more modern materials?

We’ve been using a Merino wool and LIFA blend for over a decade. It is a proprietary blend called ProWool.

Helly Hansen are looked upon as a somewhat traditional company but in the last few years they have really branched out and improved their image and range mainly because of their involvement in snowboarding and skiing. Do you see the involvement in mountain biking as a extension of this?

What does traditional mean? Improving an image is an opinion. Image is surface speak…the substance and integrity of the brand remains consistent with brand positioning having embraced the Freeride concept in both summer and winter.

Are you looking to ‘fit in’ to cycling, or to produce something new, innovative and exciting?

HH will be bring the combination of progressive design with the right trend styling. There are few brands that have the performance and tested heritage that HH brings to the table. We will fit in and push the design and performance needle forward.

They say that image is everything, what kind of image is Helly going for with this range?

Like I said, image is fine, but substance is key. HH is looking to be contributing member to the mountainbike world. We make action utility wear that will complement the specialty brands currently in the market.

Are there any other riders involved?

We have a few people that we are looking at but I can’t say anything else just yet.

When can we expect to start seeing the new products?

In Summer ‘06 there will be some initial products, but Summer ‘07 is the targeted program start.

When do you think we will have the first lightweight, fully breathable, fully waterproof but fully crash resistant (rocks, trees, gravel) clothing?

I suspect that Summer ‘07 may offer some surprises.

So there you have it. It looks like we are going to have to wait a while to see the first of the Helly Hansen mountainbike range. We know that Helly make amazingly high quality products, so we cannot wait to see their new line up. Maybe they will produce the ultimate piece of mountain biking clothing…

We reported last issue that Freerider Andrew Shandro has recently hooked up a deal with outdoor performance clothing giant Helly Hansen (HH), in what many see as a partnership made in heaven, that will benefit both parties greatly. I wanted to find out a little more about their plans, what kind of products they were working on and what involvement Shandro would have.

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