Most often, when it comes to the textile industry and clothing production in Russia, you can hear about the decline of this industry, the difficulties of work, and simply the lack of a quality domestic product. And it's bad regarding how big our country is and how much territory you can explore outdoor here. However, there are very strong exceptions. Especially when it comes to the outdoor market. Among the Russian-speaking outdoor community, this brand is widely known for its technology, build quality and even its own materials. Add here developments in the field of tactical equipment and own city line. Not to mention that all clothes are made in Russia on professional, super-technological production.
This brand is SIVERA. In our interview with the brand representative you will learn about the history of the company, its production, own materials, as well as the assessment of the Russian and foreign market of the outdoor industry. Prepare your attention, because this conversation is very big but very interesting.
[The origin of the Sivera. What's the main idea of the brand?]
Sivera is a brand owned by Five Stars Ltd., a company created by married couple Valery and Elena Fisenko. The word 'five' encrypts the names of it's creators.
Back in the days, being professional parachutists, Valery and Elena faced the strong need to improve their equipment. Since 1991 a small-scale production of specialized parachuting equipment was launched. Elena was engaged in the development of the design, and Valery was the field tester.
In 1993, a joint Russian-Italian enterprise for the production of sportswear was created on the base of this workshop.
The next development step was the creation of independent production in 1998. The factory made clothes for a couple of large foreign companies, including Vaude, Adidas, as well as for russian Bask and Red Fox. Over the years of this work, a great deal of experience has been gained in the design, R&D, and most importantly, a desire has appeared to create our products using more modern assembly technologies and materials.
In 2006, Sivera was created as a private brand of clothing for outdoor activities; and already in 2007 a relatively small but well-formed line-up was launched on the market. Initially, the company relied on the production of high-level equipment; First of all, for sports purposes (climbing, mountaineering, backcountry). Despite the relatively small production series, it turned out to provide an advantage in price (and in it's functionality) in comparison with the products of European and American brands.The chosen scheme of product sales through independent dealers made it possible to keep in touch with the residents of different regions of the country.
The brand recently celebrated its 10th anniversary: during this time it has grown in size, gained many fans and continues to develop dynamically, directly competing in stores with the best foreign manufacturers. The collection's high update rate, the use of the best materials, combined with the high quality of mass production allows us to be on the cutting edge of progress.
The brand does not have a slogan. There is a short descriptor - <<technical outdoor gear>>, which is difficult enough to translate into Russian, but for English-speaking people who know firsthand about the outdoor vendor, it is understandable enough. The modern short version of positioning for acquaintance with customers as it follows - "We are a small Russian company that specializes in the production of modern clothes and outdoor equipment."
The next development step was the creation of independent production in 1998. The factory made clothes for a couple of large foreign companies, including Vaude, Adidas, as well as for russian Bask and Red Fox.
[Sivera is a kind of a mix of interesting technologies, such as: Polartec Thermal Pro, Climashield Apex, Pertex Quantum, eVent membranes. Which of these materials are your favorites? What are the pros and cons of a large assortment of materials?]
Almost from the moment the brand was founded, we've been trying to use only those technologies and materials that are most suitable for a particular model. Choosing a family of materials and a specific article is a big job where you have to compare dozens of articles with each other over a whole set of properties.
Moreover, Sivera exercises control over the most important key properties of fabrics that come for mass production - for example, the holding properties for materials used in sewing down clothes and equipment.
As a result, we can say that we love and value almost all the materials that we use - regardless of whether their brand is known or not.
If we talk about what we have been using for many years, we would like to note:
StormGuard is a laminate with a ePTFE membrane developed according to our technical requirements, which has high vapor permeability in a wide range of conditions. The material has excellent strength and has the most effective hydrophobic surface treatment. StormGuard has replaced eVent in our assortment, significantly winning in unpretentiousness according to our tests, including lengthy field trials. This membrane is used in specialized top-class sports products, including clothing for high-altitude mountaineering, and has also been used in the best urban models for several years. For many years of sales of the StormGuard product range, there have been practically no complaints from customers.
Climashield Apex is an effective hydrophobic American insulation that allows, due to its durability and resistance to migration, to design clothes comparable in thermal efficiency to down-fill products and, if necessary, use fabrics with high breathability.
Borealis MPC is a blended fabric used in our Alaska Borey collection. It is distinguished by high durability and unpretentiousness in leaving - even after many years of operation, there are practically no signs of wear on the products. Moreover, the ultralight ePTFE membrane coating on the material improves windproof properties while maintaining the highest vapor permeability.
Of the new favorites, I would now like to highlight goose down from Allied, which has a hydrophobic HyperDry treatment that can protect the fluff even after prolonged contact with water.
In addition, in several models of the exclusive Quark series, we offer a unique article with the filling capacity of such fluff with Fill Power in 1000 units.
Another material is D'fusion Ultra, an ultra-lightweight 3L elastic laminate used in lightweight summer storm models. Ultra, which is manufactured using the latest non-porous membrane and is designed to provide maximum vapor permeability at positive and near-zero temperatures. It is interesting that the highest breathing properties (70,000 g / m2 / 24 hours) in D'fusion Ultra are combined with high water resistance (20,000 mm) and the unpretentiousness of the membrane in care.
Sivera currently uses materials from dozens of suppliers - from Japan, the USA, Italy, South Korea and China. Nevertheless, we are closely monitoring the development of the industry in Russia and we are already buying a small part of components from Russian suppliers who offer a product that is in no way inferior to foreign analogues in its class.
A wide range of used articles creates considerable difficulties: firstly, we have to interact and ensure the delivery of materials and components from dozens of suppliers, and secondly, in some cases it is not easy to collect the minimum volume for ordering a specific article of material.
At the same time, such a wide range of materials is almost inevitable when working in a high outdoor segment, given the extremely diverse range of our company.
[The recent appearance of Lofttech in stock. What is your assessment of the prospects of cluster synthetic filler and its advantages over down fill blends?]
Modern insulators, in comparison with natural down, have significantly greater hydrophobicity, and this products are usually easier ones to care for. It should be noted that high-quality down fill is still significantly superior to any analogues in thermal insulation per unit weight. For many years, Sivera has been using Climashield Apex synthetic insulation in many models of clothes and sleeping bags. Its advantages - high strength and unpretentiousness - can minimize the stitch of products, reducing heat loss through the seams and providing a minimalistic appearance of the product.
The best cluster heaters in thermal insulation surpass all traditional synthetics, but require an approach to design similar to down products - that is, the formation of separate compartments, which, in turn, increase heat loss through the seams. In the future, we can expect that cluster insulation will increase its share in the global market, displacing some of the classic synthetics, and also partially replace the down fill ones in the quilted sweater segment. At least, a noticeable interest in models with the Lofttech Summit is undeniable. At the same time, it does not seem that the new insulators will be able to completely replace the classic synthetics in warm winter models or, conversely, in light jackets for active movement, as well as high-class down fill in models that require a maximum weight / insulation ratio and a minimum transportation volume.
[Polartec's Alpha Direct in the concept of "less weight - more heat". What is Sivera's vision for this concept?]
A few decades ago, the appearance of synthetic fleece and, above all, Polartec materials was a real revolution in the equipment of sports and outdoor activities outside the city. These materials outperformed traditional wool in both weight / thermal insulation and durability, but most importantly, in drying time.
Over the past decade, progress in rolled synthetic heaters and modern lightweight fabrics has made it possible to create models of the insulation layer that outperform any Polartec fleece in terms of weight / thermal insulation and at the same time have a sufficiently high breathability - this is how the class of insulation active insulation 'came into being.
Polartec responded by submitting its insulation for similar tasks to Polartec Alpha, unlike rolled insulation, which retained the structure of loose fleece, but, like them, requiring the use of fabric shells. The main disadvantage of Alpha, in comparison with synthetic heaters of a conventional structure, is its low thermal insulation, which bring some limits of its application if priorities are set for real functionality.
Realizing this, Polartec continued its work, the result of which was the new Polartec Alpha Direct material (middle-segment; it placed between Alpha and the long-fleece Polartec Highloft fleece. Alpha Direct allowed to refuse lining in clothes with its use, which led to a decrease in weight and improved removal of moisture from the base layer.
Moreover, two companies in the world - Sivera and RAB - offered products from Alpha Direct and without external fabric. This solution additionally reduces weight and improves the removal of moisture from the body, which is important for the insulation layer intended for sky-racing competitions, long trail races and high-speed ascents. In addition, this solution allows you to configure the running kit as flexible as possible, choosing the optimal protective layer depending on the conditions.
Summing up, we can say that at the current level of technology development, the insulation layer that is optimal from the point of view of mass efficiency for minus temperatures will be models with a migration-resistant synthetic insulation, and for near-zero temperatures or very high loads - Polartec Alpha Direct, and it is without fabric shells.
D'Fusion Ultra is Sivera's own trademark, created for ultralight 3L laminate with extremely high vapor permeability (70,000 g/m2/24) and high water resistance (20,000 mm).
[Sivera's own brand materials (Shell-Ter, WindGuard, A'ris). How did Sivera come to this?]
Branding of materials is the common section in the modern outdoor industry - almost all materials used by market leaders have one or another brand. The fact is that materials with formally the same composition can have a fundamentally different level of functional properties, vary widely in cost. A trademark is the easiest way to convey to the average buyer information about the key features and benefits of a particular product. This contributes to brand recognition and is a certain mechanism of protection against primitive copying. At the same time, most of the vendor manufacturers use both trademarks from well-known suppliers of materials and their own. Using material branding is the more obvious step when it comes to material. Sivera took her first steps in the Russian market, huge relying on the use of materials and components from well-known brands with ready-made brands: Primaloft, Polartec, eVent, YKK and others.
However, after a few years, we began to introduce our first own brands for some used fabrics and materials, and there were several reasons for this at once. First things first, some manufacturers (for example, many Japanese membrane suppliers) offering advanced materials, do not have 'untwisted' brands, investing primarily in the development of the product itself. The second ones, sometimes the vendor's branding system is not well structured - for example, materials with completely different properties are combined under one brand. And most importantly, many of the materials used by Sivera were developed according to our special order; often the technical task. We formulated requirements for membranes, selected components of membrane laminates, ordered different densities of weaving underwear, and so on - and no doubt that such exclusive materials deserve a separate brand.
Since the introduction of the first own brands several years have passed, and we can say that the system has paid off. The trademarks used are mostly recognizable to our customers and relatively well structured.
[Sivera's own development in the outdoor segment.]
As a rule, the lioris share of R&D efforts is spent on finding the optimal combination of existing solutions in materials, assembly technologies, construction and ergonomics from the point of view of designation.
That's why it is especially pleasant that sometimes Sivera was able to offer truly new solutions that literally outstripped time. The most typical example is the use of thermal welding for the seamless assembly of down fill compartments with warm seams. This solution allows you to increase the weather resistance of the seam and prevent the down fill migration through punctures. A similar solution by western companies has appeared only a year later.
A good example from another area is the Gamayun insulation layer - a model that not only has excellent thermal insulation with minimal weight, but also high air permeability. Similar in concept products from foreign brands appeared only after a few years - now these models are allocated in a separate class 'active insulation'. Gamayun having gone through a series of modernizations, still outperforms any competitor in thermal insulation per unit weight; in addition, on its basis we propose a small family of products for similar purposes.
In terms of practice, Sivera was a pioneer in the use of a new generation of ePTFE membrane coatings with high breathing properties (for example, WindGuard), the use of which improved the functionality of products compared to previous versions made from Pertex Endurance.
[The principle of release of the product version 1.0 and its further development.]
Any new model is always sewn in the form of several prototypes, which are evaluated for convenience, appearance, study of the elements, and are often tested in the field. The finished new model gets its name without a digital index and is presented to our partners at a dealer workshop. In the future, as a rule, after several seasons of sales, the model is often subjected to modernization.
Updating the model may be due to progress in materials and technologies, the accumulation of comments and suggestions on the model from our customers, related to the features of their operation, and even a change in the positioning of the model in collection. A significantly updated version (for example, replacing a substantial part of components with a fundamentally new or a complete alteration of the structure) of the product receives a new whole figure - for example, 2.0. A slightly modernized product - an additional decimal coefficient, for example, 2.1 instead of 2.0.
[Slavonicisms in a company naming. How do slavonicisms help to personify a brand?]
Since its origin, Sivera has become one of the few brands not only developing, but also producing most of its products in-house in Russia. The active use of old Russian words in the product names is a feature emphasizing the origin of the company and its orientation - primarily to the national market. In essence, this approach is the exact opposite of the approach to creating a pseudo-foreign brand when entering a market that is often found in the industry. An additional advantage of this approach is the high recognition of products, especially in comparison with the basic "geographical method" - for example, the use of the names of the world highest peaks. Nowadays, using the full model line of Sivera, it is practically possible to obtain basic knowledges about the old-slavic language.
[What category of customers does Sivera rely on in the first place?]
Our main client is a young or middle-aged person living in Russia, with a graduated education, working in a large company or owning his own small or medium business, preferring to engage in one of the types of outdoor activities in his free time - hiking, mountaineering and other mountain sports. We are chosen by those who do not want to blindly follow large brands, and are trying to compare the performance characteristics of products and look for a more suitable one for their tasks. As a rule, people start by buying Sivera things for sports use, understanding the level of quality, materials and technologies, they want to get this in everyday life, thereby they're choosing urban products in our assortment. Often, in the wardrobe of such enthusiastic people, whole sets of different purposes are assembled: a mountain climbing kit, an polar expedition set, a kit for backcountry or trailing, etc., etc.
Recently, the number of customers has been growing and, not fond of sports, they have bought our product for everyday use and, having appreciated its real characteristics, have become regular customers and fans of the brand.
[Sivera's team and its potential. Why is production in Ryazan preferable to outsourcing in other countries?]
One of the strengths of our company is a strong team of enthusiastic people. For our region in Russia there is no competent system for training specialists, which forces us to continuously learn new things, interacting with each other, enthusiastic athletes, suppliers of materials and research laboratories. We can carry out a full cycle - from the beginning of development to mass production - of a wide variety of products, from thermal underwear to Himalayan overalls and from storm clothes to sleeping bags.
At the same time, the load on each responsible employee is quite high, and the rapid expansion of production is slows down by the shortage of qualified sewing personnel.
Sivera was originally 'built' around its own factory in Ryazan. It is this feature that allowed us to organize a continuous process from developing the concept of the model through testing the technology and tailoring prototypes to production, as well as ensuring a high level of quality of serial production.
Until now, most of the products are produced in our own production with a staff of more than a hundred people. Own capacities have been lacking for several seasons in a row, so we place part of the models in the territory of the customs union. When we talk about outsourcing, we need to understand that we carry out quality control not only at the stages of launching and accepting products, but also in stages in the production process. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to allocate a sufficient number of technologists. As practice shows, products manufactured at outsourcing under our strictest control are in no way inferior to those made at our own factory. This is an undoubted success, but it imposes certain difficulties in finding third-party industries that are ready to provide a given level of quality, and therefore the development process in this direction is also constrained.
Compared with large-scale production in the countries of Southeast Asia, Sivera, of course, has a higher production cost, but the current scheme of working with the main production in our factory allows the most stringent quality control. In addition, Sivera has the ability to quickly develop the company's lineup due to a simpler transition from model development to mass production and can produce some models of relatively small series. The percentage of defect is minimal.
[Please tell us about cooperation with professional athletes and organizations.]
As a rule, cooperation with athletes pursues several goals at the same time - this is, firstly, obtaining effective feedback on the properties of prototypes of sports models, evaluating serial production and suggesting possible changes in models. Another aspect is attracting attention to the company's products, especially in the framework and following the successful completion of a sports project by an athlete (for example, the first ascent of a new route to the top).
For Sivera, an important role in the development was played by cooperation with one of the leading high-altitude climbers of our time Denis Urubko, a participant in a series of successful winter climbs to the highest points of the planet.
Taking into account Denis's remarks and preferences, the appearance of Sivera's clothes was formed, designed for Himalayan ascents and winter mountaineering - including, for example, warm synthetic models of sports parks and semi-overalls. This interaction at the time also had a great influence on 3L storm clothes and formed the prerequisites for creating the warmest down fill sleeping bags of the collection - Shishigi -22 and Shishigi -40.
It turned out to be useful to interact with Andrey and Sergey Nefedov, who implemented several high-profile projects, including the passage of a difficult wall route to Ak-Su with free climbing. In this case, we were talking about the development of light and functional clothing for mountaineering, climbing in 'small mountains' and related activities.
Sivera participated in the equipment of several expeditions to the Russian North. As a rule, the preferences of participants in such projects are very different from professional climbers, which makes feedback from such projects especially useful.
The practically invisible 'outside' layer of our activity is interaction with outdoor enthusiasts, especially in the direction of ultralight clothing and camping equipment. This is a particularly important area in connection with the development of running competitions, skyraning and multisport and the growing popularity of these areas. We not only receive effective feedback on our products, but also collect wishes for the further development of products in this area, use these capabilities to test prototypes of products that often compete with each other.
In the framework of interaction with organizations, it is worth noting that since this year Sivera has become one of the official partners of the Russian Mountaineering Federation.
INTA is the warmest sports synthetic parka from Sivera.
Currently INTA is probably the warmest mass-produced sports model with synthetic insulation. Even the first versions of this model were used in high-altitude mountaineering, including the ascents of the eight-thousanders. INTA of the first generation was used by Denis Urubko during the first ever winter ascent of Makalu (8481 m) in 2009.
[The urban-style. The way it supposed to look like. What can be borrowed from an outdoor?]
Urban clothing is a huge and very diverse market with its own laws. If the design of sports products is determined primarily by the tasks for which it was designed, then urban products are also influenced by personal preferences of customers, fashion development and historical stereotypes.
Due to the harsh climate and relatively poor infrastructure development, urban clothing in Russia often needs to not only look stylish, but also 'work' 100%.
Sivera is developing a segment of urban clothing in several directions at once, in order to better capture the preferences of customers.
Strong and very warm down fill and synthetic parkas and jackets in the style of alaska are part of the Borey collection, the demand for products of which can hardly be overestimated.
A variety of models at the intersection of sports and casual form the LifeStyle collection. According to the materials and assembly technologies used, the LifeStyle collection partially overlaps with sportswear.
The most advanced in terms of materials and technologies used among our urban products is the relatively new Tech City collection. In particular, the best functional membranes StormGuard and WindGuard are used here, but in combination with urban style fabric. Tech City models use technologies such as seamless assembly of down fill compartments, sealing seams, and lamination of finishing knitwear. These technologies and materials give a unique minimalistic and rigorous look to these products. The trend for the use of high sports technology in casual wear appeared just a few years ago and it is very pleasant that Sivera is literally on the cutting edge here.
In the framework of interaction with organizations, it is worth noting that since this year Sivera has become one of the official partners of the Russian Mountaineering Federation.
[What are the features of the Russian and foreign outdoor industry market?]
A powerful and diverse outdoor market is characteristic primarily for developed countries with a high standard of living and well-formed traditions of outdoor activities - mountain climbing, trekking, skiing, etc. First of all, these are the states of Western and Central Europe, as well as the USA and Canada. Moreover, it is in Europe - in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France - the strongest interest in clothing and equipment for mountain sports.
In recent years, there has been a steady pace increase in the market outdoor of China, Korea and other dynamically developing countries of Asia. At the same time, the demand for urban clothing is growing most rapidly.
The features of the Russian market are due to quite objective reasons: the country's vast territory, harsh climate, relatively low real income level of the population, and so on. In Russia, warm winter clothes are extremely in demand, and above all, designed for everyday use. Durable reliable sports items that are often bought right away for 'total' are always popular.
On the other hand, activities such as trail running, multi-day backcountry, trekking, hiking in fast style have been developing rapidly in recent years, which leads to the development of relevant market segments, including our specialized models.