For the past 15 years, Kiwami has built a following as a brand with a passion for triathlon. The French company adds that, over the years, it has focused on ‘customer services, gathering feedback from customers and pro athletes to improve quality’. It continues to evolve through a focus on being, ‘international, friendly, life-loving, unique and proud.’
Over the past 15 years, former international triathletes, Hélène Salomon and Craig Watson have established the Kiwami triathlon clothing brand in the competitive triathlon marketplace.
Hélène Salomon is a multiple French triathlon champion. She was one of the first French women to win an official IRONMAN event (IRONMAN France 2003). Craig Watson is a former ITU number one ranked athlete. He represented New Zealand at the 2000 Olympic Games.
After ten years of international competition, and nearing the end of their own racing careers, Hélène and Craig decided to embark on building the Kiwami brand.
‘’We were frustrated by the lack of technical triathlon race wear available at the time we were racing, and we strongly believed that adapted products could actually help improve performance,” said Hélène Salomon.
“As we knew what we wanted, we decided to make the products we would have liked to use, ourselves. So, in 2003, the Kiwami brand was born. It is headquartered near Pau in the south west of France. Kiwami is a mix of the words ‘Kiwi’, representing Craig’s New Zealand origins and ‘Ami’, the French word for ‘friend’.’’
Mark Allen Coaching Racing Gear
Recently Kiwami has teamed up with 6-time IRONMAN Triathlon World Champion Mark Allen to create apparel for Mark Allen Coaching team athletes. In addition, Kiwami will be creating a retail line of Mark Allen Coaching branded gear for men and women. This will be available in 2019.
“During the course of my career, one of the most important factors in my success was attention to detail” said Mark Allen. “Leave nothing to chance. That ethos included everything from bike components to the weight of my shoes.
“That is something I try and pass along to all of the athletes I coach. Kiwami has that same mindset when it comes to their entire line, commitment to the athletes and quality in every aspect from design to production. That is why we are proud to partner with Kiwami for our team uniforms and why we are so excited to be announcing the retail line of Mark Allen Coaching Racing Gear.”
Kiwami notes that its mission has been to ‘produce first-class technical, comfortable and elegant race-wear that is specifically designed and tailored to enhance the performance of the competitor.’ Kiwami adds that it uses only top quality fabrics that are adapted for triathlon. These are ‘supportive, streamlined and water repellent for swimming; fast drying, body-hugging and comfortable for cycling; lightweight, breathable and flexible for running.’
Hélène continued, “Since our inception, our whole philosophy has been to redevelop the fabrics, manufacturing processes and quality of custom triathlon technical race wear. We are continually searching for and testing new and better materials that will help our athletes to race more efficiently, more comfortably and faster.
“We are proud that our products are 100% made in Europe and have won numerous innovation awards.”
The most prestigious awards have come from ISPO Munich, the world’s biggest sports industry trade show, where Kiwami has won Gold and Winner Awards; for its Spider compression technology in 2014, and for its Equilibrium trail running short in 2017.
From triathlon to trail running
Kiwami was a triathlon-only brand from 2003 to 2015. But in 2016, and encouraged to do so by its customers, Kiwami diversified into the world of trail running. A dedicated trail running collection is now spearheaded by the award winning Equilibrium Trail Short. This features Kiwami’s patented Easyfix system for carrying trail poles and storing poles when running.
“Our DNA is innovation”, said Craig Watson. “That, combined with highly technical products and quality workmanship is what distinguishes Kiwami from our competition. We also have quality after-sales and repair services, assured in-house by our own technicians, which is greatly appreciated by our customers.
Hélène added, “Despite strong competition, we are have been the French market leader in triathlon textiles for many years now. Our designs and innovations have become benchmarks in the triathlon industry. So, we have the ambition become a long standing benchmark in the trail running market also.”
Today, the company has nine employees at its head office. It is a partner of a number of high-profile triathletes and more than 350 triathlon teams worldwide.