Over a century ago a small store specialising in imported baseball and golf equipment opened in Osaka, Japan. Frustrated with the quality of the imported goods, the store owner Rihachi Mizuno successfully sought out local factories that could manufacture to a higher standard – these domestic goods were labelled with the family name, giving birth to the Mizuno brand.
Since that day in 1906 a lot has changed in the technology and manufacture of sporting goods but the Mizuno philosophy has never wavered. We began the quest for perfection when opening the world’s first research and development laboratory in 1938. The quest is never-ending but some of the greats in sporting history have benefited from our innovative approach and attention to detail. From Nick Faldo’s six golf major wins using hand-forged clubs, to Ayrton Senna’s specially made Formula 1 driving boots and Carl Lewis’s ultra-lightweight track spikes.
“Working with Mizuno has been a pleasure. The attention to detail, the quality of kit, speed of production and service levels are outstanding.” Jo Bates, GB Rowing Team Kit Lead, British Rowing.
Jump forward to the end of August 2016. The summer Olympic Games in Rio has finished and Team GB is toasting its rowers after topping the medal table with three golds and three silvers. At the same time British Rowing is looking for an official sportswear partner and Mizuno has expressed a desire to showcase their capabilities. At this stage we know we can make fantastic kit but what do we know about rowing? Where do we start?
We start at the beginning and we set a simple but critical objective – to design the most technical performance rowing range on the market, with a clear British identity.
We started with some market research – what products already existed in the sport? What did the athletes enjoy wearing and why? What were the issues faced with wearing clothing in often inclement conditions and a lot of water? We picked apart seams, measured up panels, analysed materials and manufacturing methods. Then came the observation of the athletes in the boat – it’s a very different body position and movement to most other sports.
We produced an initial set of samples and gave them to the athletes for testing and feedback. Seven more rounds of producing samples ensued, each the result of a tiny technical alteration here, a design tweak there.
On 2 March 2017 it was announced that Mizuno had become the official sportswear partner of British Rowing on a four-year deal. A proud moment indeed and a welcome reward for the preparation and work invested in ensuring that the nation’s top athletes had kit to match their elite expectations and requirements. In addition to the showpiece all-in-one, the range was complemented with on- and off-water pieces such as splash jacket, gilet, base layer, fitted fleece, leggings and oilskin jacket. One of our corporate philosophies is to ‘never stop pushing’ and we demonstrate that daily by continuing to work on developing new apparel pieces for British Rowing. Every time we see the athletes sporting the famous Mizuno ‘Runbird’ logo in harmony with the union flag we are inspired.
“It has been great to be part of the collaborative process with Mizuno. The athletes and support staff have been working with Mizuno to ensure we’re rowing in the best possible kit as we build towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The all-in-one is more lightweight than typical rowing kit, so it is more comfortable to train and compete in. The innovative designs have helped us stand out on the international circuit this summer and I look forward to seeing further advancements in the coming years.” Anastasia Chitty, GB Rowing Team.
For more information about Mizuno and how they can help your school’s rowing team, visit their website.