It’s always hard being the new kid on the block, especially when your chosen neighbourhood is watertight (almost). How do you pierce the skin of an elephant when it’s at full stride, and has no plans to stop for a drink? Matuse CEO John V. Campbell puts the success of the (relatively) new wetsuit company […]
It’s always hard being the new kid on the block, especially when your chosen neighbourhood is watertight (almost). How do you pierce the skin of an elephant when it’s at full stride, and has no plans to stop for a drink? Matuse CEO John V. Campbell puts the success of the (relatively) new wetsuit company down to great design, provocative thinking and a desire to make the Rolls Royce of rubber. We quizzed the geoprene guru about the company’s past, present and future.
Stab: So, how’d it all come about?
John: In 2005, my father, John B. Campbell, Matt Larson and I, set out to create a company dedicated to great design, provocative thinking and making the Rolls Royce of wetsuits. The three of us knew that by using limestone-based geoprene, we could create a top-notch collection of wetsuits that are 30% warmer, 30% lighter and ultimately last longer because of the water that isn’t absorbed into the rubber. And we call this collection of suits “Premium (the ichiban) Game.” On that note, we’ve always wanted Matuse’s voice to transcend the norms in surfing because the planet simply doesn’t need another label to tell the same story. To say that we’re proud of our accomplishments and appreciative of the relationships that have made this company what it is would be major understatements. From the crew at Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla and Solana Beach to Mikala Jones, Daniel Jones, Flynn Novak, Pat Millin and Joel Tudor, Matuse has developed into a special community. Today over half of our audience is international, yet there’s a common thread that connects everyone that loves Matuse and wears the product. The phrase “like-minded” gets overused these days but there’s unquestionably something about Matuse that attracts a certain kind of human.
What’s behind the name? The word Matuse has an etymology that traces back to folklore in Northern Europe and it’s actually Matt’s nickname given to him by his father. In the same way that we wanted our brand’s point of view to extend beyond wetsuits, we wanted a name that was compelling to people from various nations and backgrounds. After nearly eight years of being on the shelves, we’ve yet to meet someone that doesn’t love our company’s name.
What’s your most popular suit? The Hoplite 432 was the first full suit that put us on the map. In addition to the limestone geoprene, the Hoplite’s “Farmer John Floodgate” and its “Hidden Chamber Technology” introduced new technologies and designs to a wetsuit market that was somewhat stagnant at the time. To date, we’ve never trumpeted technology for the sake of technology. For us to incorporate new designs or innovations, we only do so if we’re absolutely certain that it will make the suit better. Wetsuits, particularly the premium variety, are similar to parachutes in the sense that they must work properly. To this extent, we are very proud of our latest release, The Scipio. It is named after one of Rome’s greatest generals and it utilizes a next-level version of Geoprene that we call “blackZERO.” This material literally reflects the body’s heat back inside the suit — while also taking on no additional water. Without question, the 3mm Scipio is the lightest and warmest suit on the market — pound for pound.
How does one become a Matuse team rider? The people that represent Matuse in the water are chosen just as much for their personalities and individual ethos as they are for their prowess as surfers. I don’t think there are any prerequisites other than perhaps asking ourselves: “Is this someone we’d want to invite over for dinner?”
What does Matuse bring to the party that no one else does? In addition to the best wetsuits on the planet, what Matuse brings to the party is a huge amount of sincere hustle and an unwavering commitment to being ourselves.
You can read more about this rubbery operation here.
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