Once upon a time all racing suits were .. shall we say “monocolor”? Already made of Lycra ( or Spandex. Or Elastane – whichever name you prefer – it’s the same, essentially) but still featuring single-color “design”. How very boring!
…We’ll skip for now the rest of history of ski racing clothing in the last 30 years, since the first patterns started to appear on them – an jump straight into 2018. The year that saw appearance of one of the most original race suits designs ever. Like ever-ever!
Meet Lithuania national biathlon team , the Olympic edition
Have you seen anything more impressive? With clear references to famed Battle of Grunewald a.k.a Tannenberg ( check how well you remember your history lessons ), the Lithuanian biathletes have tried to take on the German ones ( failed this time) – but become an instant darling of both television producers & cameramen and fans the world over
What a good excuse to sit down for a chat with a man behind in all, Oldřich Sova, managing director of ATEX, Czech company that gained a significant share of the ( very tough) market doing what it knows the best – good quality ( ask Dasha Domracheva and Gabriela Koukalová) yet reasonably priced clothing for xcskiing & beyond.
– Oldřich, first things first – who came up with that “chain armor” design that turned the Lithuanians into a sensation of the Pyongchang Games?
We are behind most of designs that we make. However in case of Lithuanian biathlon team we chose to cooperated with a famous Lithuanian fashion designer Aleksandras Pogrebnojus. This is the third time we have been working together and he also designed our clothes for Lithuanian national team last year. This collection was therefore a logical outcome of our work together. Just after the initial sketches we knew something extraordinary was coming (and our designs don’t tend to be conservative at all). The final version proved we were right. Nevertheless our designers also spent many hours on this project as it wasn’t easy to master the shades of grey and adjust the graphics to our clothes. But that’s the usual forfeit for being original.
– Any different materials used compared to other teams equipped by ATEX?
No, we used the same materials that we use for all other national biathlon teams. No need for armour or other metal materials 🙂 Well, when you are surrounded by many armed sportsmen, bulletproof material might come handy. But what really matters is that the sportswear is as lightweight and thin as possible.
– Speaking of the others – what other national teams are racing in ATEX suits?
We dress up many national teams of all different sports. But if we go down to cross-country skiing and biathlon only, PyeongChang 2018 saw: Czechia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia and Mexico national teams or individuals wearing our clothes.
– Design and production – where?
Our clothes are designed by Czech designers and they are made in two different workshops here in the Czech Republic. One together with its headquarters is based in Brno and another one in Jeseník. We employ 45 people and we have representatives in France, U.K., Spain, Sweden, Norway, Hungary and other countries.
Customers can come up with their own designs but in majority of cases we create them. We also use materials of renowned European companies from Italy, France and Spain.
– Question you would expect – on such a saturated market, what makes ATEX products different from competition?
All is revolving around the fact that we produce clothes in the heart of the Europtan Union. We offer high-quality, flexibility and all that for a reasonable price. We cannot compete against Asian production in terms of price but that’s why we offer other benefits such as individual approach to our customers, possibility to order clothes in customized design starting from one piece or extended 3-year warranty.
Our cross-country skiing collection includes racing suits but also clothes for training such as jackets, vests, trousers and of course accessories, for instance hats, scarves or headbands. We don’t manufacture down jackets, shoes or other typical winter clothes. We only concentrate on producing sportswear and apart from cross-country skiing we make top-quality clothes for other sports. From Olympic sports it would be for example triathlon, rowing, wrestling, beach volleyball and from the less known sports skyrunning or canicross.
– OK, last question – if one really wants that Team Lithuania armor suit we have started our conversation with – what does one do?
She or he contacts me directly via our FB page or Instagram channel. We attend all the needs of our clients personally!