Interview by Christoph Böttcher Photography by Dominic Swagemakers
What is adapt? Who stands behind all this?
adapt is a new skate company founded in the Netherlands by Pieter Wijnant and Olga Bouwhuis.
Any philosophy to share?
Our philosophy is to be passionate about the products we make. adapt is about the passion for making skates.
Why start another skate brand? What’s missing in the product that is available now?
We wanted to bring something new to the table. Skating is not good for your feet, you get lumps, your feet get fragile and sensitive. We wanted to make a skate that would fit your feet extremely well and you would have no pressure points in. For Pieter this goal came from a personal experience. He has been in a motorcycle accident a few years back in which the bones of his feet got shattered. Ever since, no skate was good for his feet. After skating a while his feet would start to hurt. So the idea of making a skate that was perfect for every skater out there was one of our goals.
What do you plan on doing differently? What are the 3 main characteristics that set adapt apart from other brands?
We decided to do a lot of things differently than the skating scene is used to, not only when it comes to our product but also the handling of the business side. Starting with the skate, our main focus is that all the products we make are high quality. This means high quality materials and high quality production. All our products are carefully made piece by piece, no mass production. Being a Dutch brand, we had the opportunity to research the techniques used in making ice-skates. The ice skating market is a big market involving a lot of money and this is something that you can definitely see in their products. We had the chance to work together with one of the bigger ice-skate producers in Holland and this really opened doors for our project. We like giving attention to detail. For instance, we made sure that the bolts in the boot are securely fastened, so they will not twist when you take the parts off the boot. The boot is made completely from scratch, so no use of old shells but a totally new design and fit. We want to be honest in what we sell, so every inch of the boot will be shown on our website. If we tell you that our boot consists of a certain fiber, the whole boot will consist of that fiber, no exceptions.
What kind of products will you carry?
We will be producing boots, soul plates, frames and anti-rockers.
We’ve talked before and you mentioned you plan on producing all your stuff in the EU. Where exactly?
We prefer not to give too specific information about this, but everything about this skate is made in Europe. The soul plates and frames for the skate will actually be made at Pieter’s work in Holland. This creates the opportunity to easily improve the products when needed.
Are you making the goods by hand or have you found a way to work with 3rd party service providers at least for the molding of the plastic parts?
The boot is made by a professional boot maker that works for the company Pieter works for. All other parts are made in Holland.
Rik van Huik
What materials do you use?
We will be using high quality materials, like real leather, a combination of thermoplastic fibers and other fibers. Soulplates and frames are made of high density plastics.
Are you choosing from industry standard materials or do you alter these in any way, like changing compounds to make them work for the intended purpose?
We are using materials that have not or have been used little in the skating industry. As mentioned before, we had the chance to take a peak in the ice-skating world and got a lot of ideas from that. Using fibers is the golden standard in ice-skating boots. We decided to use a combination of fibers to get different characteristics that work perfect for our purpose. The plastic we use is normally used for machines in the industrial world, so they are extremely strong and durable.
While there isn’t any photos to show of the boot at this very moment, we have to settle on the frames and souls for now. Can you give us a quick introduction to these products and the aspects they’ve been designed from? What’s the special features that make them not just another piece of blading gear?
The adapt teaser website has been launched, on there you can get a glimpse of the very first prototypes we made. The soul plate and frames are made out of plastic. They are not poured but CNC’ed out of one piece of material. That way we can use high density plastic, which is very durable. The groove of the soul plate will be something different as well. All we can say now is that it’s perfect! The frame will be made out of the same material as the soul plate, which we think is very important. You don’t want to be held back by either the frame or the soul plate. The groove of the frame will match perfectly with the groove of the soul plate. We are still in the testing phase with these products but so far, so good.
Frames are UFS, but what about compatibility regarding the souls?
When we started out, we only had the boot. We tested the boot using soul plates from different brands which fit perfectly. Because the boot is slim and flat on the bottom it is possible to use other soul plates that do not have a raised heel in them. The soul plates that we produce will also fit some other skates.
Where is your knowledge coming from in regards of choosing the right materials that work well for aggressive skates? Where have you learned to design product? What’s with the business side of things? Like dealing with manufacturers, legal issues, patents? Have you guys had the chance to work in the blading industry beforehand?
Most of our knowledge for the right materials comes from our experience in skating. Taken together, we have been skating for over 30 years now. We have skated all the skates on the market. We had some materials that we thought would work well and just tried them out. So far, we are on the right track. Designing products is something we picked up along the way, by trial and error. Business is less risky for us, since we do not have to order a huge amount of skates, which is usually the case if you order from a third party. The technology we use cannot be patented, since it is commonly used in the ice-skating market. For the design part, we prefer not to patent it. Our industry is so small, all we want for it is to progress. If our design gives somebody else a great idea for a skate, that would be better for the industry. Back in the day, brands like K2 had patents, which was terrible for the progress of skating products. Pieter has been working in the blading industry for quite some time now. He started out with a messageboard and organizing events and was the owner and founder of a skate shop and skatepark until the end of 2010.
Who has been testing your gear in the past? Any team riders yet?
We ourselves have been testing the skates, and of course our team riders. A few of our friends have also tried them and studied them and they also gave great input. Our team consists of Rik van Huik and Sem Croft. Rik is a very talented skater and a good friend of ours. Rik is not your average skater. He is creative and calculative. Every time we skate with him he amazes us with his control and his original, extremely difficult tricks. Sem is the future. He is only 15 years old, but has control and style like he has been skating for 20 years. Sem really enjoys skating and is always having fun with doing little, but impossible tricks. We have chosen Rik and Sem, whom most of the people have never heard of, because of their talent, but also because of their personality. Sure, we could go with the random kid that won the latest contest, but we decided to take a different approach. We only want skaters in our team that we feel personally connected to and which are eager to support us, not ones that are just looking to get sponsored. We are very proud to have both Rik and Sem on our team. We are also happy to announce a third member on our team, a big name in the industry. But we don’t want to spill the beans yet. More news about this will follow soon.
How long has all this been in the making? What time went by from the idea to the first sketches to the first prototype?
We founded adapt in the beginning of 2010. Pieter has designed skates since he was about 12 years old. The first sketches were already made around that time and have progressed until now. Things got serious around September last year, and about half a year ago we received our first prototypes.
So you’re making boot only skates and frames. How will these be sold? Any plans on releasing a complete skate with wheels from a different brand in the future?
The skate will be sold complete with frames and wheels and as a boot only. Since the whole skate is going to be focused on high quality, we want our wheels to be high quality as well. But, making wheels is an art on its own, so we contacted Chimera for a collaboration. Chimera has the same approach and ideas as we have, so it made sense for us to work with them.
Can you share your roadmap with us? When will frames and soul plates hit the market and when will people be able to get their hands on the skates?
We will be releasing a complete boot first, but the soul plates and frames will also be available separately from that point. We are aiming to release everything in the first quarter of next year. But that’s not a promise.
Your stuff is handmade in the EU from assorted materials. Can we expect adapt products to be rather expensive? Will all (EU) shops carry your goods right from the start or do you plan on selling them out of your own warehouse to increase profit and keep the whole thing going at first?
Because our skate is such a high quality product with only limited amounts, it costs a lot more to make than your average boot. To keep the skate affordable we decided to sell them only through our website. We will be making some exceptions for shops we want to support. For instance, the first boot will also be available at Thisissoul.
Why should someone that has settled on another boot and frame that has proven to be working for them check out adapt?
We do not believe in competing against different brands. If you like the adapt skate, then you should support it. If you like something else, that’s fine. Enjoy testing different things, because this should give you a good idea of what you really want in a skate.
Editor’s note: adapt talked freely about the materials used for their skates throughout the conversation. It was decided at last minute that they wouldn’t want to give away so detailed information at this point. All passages in the interview that touch the topic of materials used now refer to ‘plastic’