Dedicated to producing elite performance product, Storelli have looked to combine the strength of mother nature with the intelligence of human engineering for their latest 'Engineered Biology' collection. Getting to the core we caught up with Director of Design at the brand Tom Marchesi to get to the seams of the detail.
There’s obviously a lot of science that has gone into the Engineered Biology Line but breaking this down in a straightforward sense, can you summarise this new tech for us?
"We are always looking outside the soccer industry for ideas on ways to solve problems and looking to nature is one of the best places to find inspiration. The Engineered Biology Line is about communication of this idea through patterns and prints."
The geometry of it all looks rather alluring, what role does this play in the evolution of the Storelli product line?
"The starting point for everything we make is to solve a specific need. Any shape or angle or seam is introduced for a reason. In the end when we have a fully functional piece, it usually also results in a nice clean looking product. If it seems too cluttered, it usually means we are trying to make it do too much. As we create new products using a new shape of foam or a seam that works better than existing products, we go back and update those pieces. In this way, the product lines keep a cohesive look, and we have the best products we can make on the market."
Do you see this as a the next chapter for the brand and in turn what was the core objective behind this development?
"The first iteration of the Storelli product line got it’s inspiration from the world of action sports - partly because that is where I came from and know it well, but also because when I first looked at the state of soccer gear when we started this company my take was that it hadn’t changed in 25 years. Meanwhile action sports, like snowboarding and mountain biking, had been progressing at a tremendous rate. I wanted to take some of that energy and infuse it into the product. Now that we have established a brand and a look and feel, we have started to look at other inspirations to keep it fresh and progressing. Natural forms have always inspired me, so it wasn’t much of a stretch. And since the natural world has been creating solutions to all kinds of problems for millions of years, not a terrible place to look."
How has the testing phase differed to products gone before, have you come at this from a new angle?
"Testing products is of course a very important part of this business, one of the best parts of the job! Since we make prototypes here in the office, there are always new ideas to test and always a Storelli employee willing to be the one. However, we are making a big effort to get the product in to the hands of players of all ages and levels, as this is where the real insight is found. We are currently testing products on all kinds of players, from professional players right down to my 13 year old nephews team, and everyone in between."
Can you talk us through the design process right through to the finished product - what does that look like at Storelli?
"Probably our biggest advantage is our ability to make almost any product in house, usually in half a day or less. We do not depend on pattern makers in a factory overseas to create our designs like many companies. We do not have to wait two weeks to see if an idea worked. This way we can try even the craziest ideas."
"We usually start with a product idea- take the goalkeeper Exo Jersey for example. We had already made the GK Bodyshield shirt, which was a big success but there are plenty of keepers out there who like the more traditional looser fitting jersey. So the task was to create a loose fitting jersey but make it have elbow pads that actually protect the elbows. So this particular product started there- drawing from the Arm Guard that we had just made, we tweaked the two part pad design to work with a loose less stretchy fabric of the shirt."
"In this case we started from scratch and created patterns - we actually still use paper patterns and grade to different sizes by hand. A lot of times we are making garments that fit a very particular way - in this case a fitted but loose body and a tight arm. Computer programs tend to work well with standard fitting garments, but they have no idea how to grade an elbow pad. This way we can control every aspect of the fit and function. Once we have a product that passes the in-house testers, we send the patterns to the factory and request samples that we then send out to our testers around the world. We take their feedback and make the necessary changes. Usually around 12 months after the sales team asks us for a new product it is out on the shelves ready to help you make the save (or the goal, depending on your preference!)"
Does this now give you a new base point to launch fresh products off? It’s set to be another big year for the brand...
"It is definitely set to be a big year - you haven’t even seen the start. Our focus has always been to create products that make the playing experience better. One way to do this is to make sure you not only don’t get injured, you don’t even think about it. We have obviously been focusing on this aspect. However, there are other ways to elevate performance and this is where the focus is. Do you want to run faster and cut harder? We will have you covered in 2017."
You’ve put the creative side of the game right at the core of what you’re doing, how important is it for Storelli to retain that side of the brand?
"It is probably one of our most important guiding principles. We are all a creative bunch, and no one who works at Storelli has any desire to follow the pack in anything we do. It sometimes makes things harder for us, but in the end we come out ahead in the form of a brand and a product that works as hard as you do."
What lessons have you learnt from that last year that you’ll be taking into the next?
"Sometimes we come across an idea or a solution to a problem that we are very excited about. It happens a lot actually. It is really fun to think about solving something that other companies are not able to, especially when that competing company is larger than everyone in our whole Brooklyn neighborhood. The hard part comes when we realize that it still takes 12 months to get it out, and closer to 18 to two years for some products. So, being patient not promising or releasing anything too early is tough but necessary."
Closing on the Engineered Biology Line, what elements and values are you most proud of that this product holds?
"I think the level of detail in the new line has upped the anti for everything we do. Sometimes it is the simplest of things. We reworked the sizing label to look nicer, which means you can see the size at a glance, no hunting around tiny type. The neck taping covers a potentially irritating seam, while at the same time provides a loop to hang the shirt. Little details that make all the difference. We are all very proud of the new line and have no doubt that our past customers will be even happier, and new ones will be part of the family."
An enviable insight from a brand that forever pushes boundaries that have yet to be flexed, you can find out more about the Engineered Biology collection here.
Photography by Sam Maller