An interview with Rick Rudinger, CEO of XOSKIN Apparel
Believe in the Run was contacted by XOSKIN™ in November, right before the GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon. I had never heard of the brand before, and if they hadn’t been local, I probably would have looked at the sample and not truly understood what I had in my hands. Enter Rick Rudinger, the CEO of XOSKIN™. Rick requested to go over his product in person. I am always interested in meeting the people that create the products we review, so we set up a meeting to learn about his apparel.
The one word I would use to describe Rick, intense. This is a man that is serious and passionate about his product. At first, I was a little overwhelmed by some of the terms Rick was using to explain the properties and manufacturing of the yarns and the weaving process. There is a lot that goes into making these garments. With most gear I think, people only care about colors and flattering cuts, and most apparel functions well enough. I was wondering, what would make XOSKIN™ different?
I ended up testing the XOSKIN™ Short Sleeve Form Fit base-layer in both hot and humid Florida and during the cool damp TNF 50 mile Endurance Challenge California.
In Florida, I tried running with no Glide or anti-chafing protection at all under the shirt. XOSKIN™ delivered on the promise of less chafing due to the PTFE woven into the yarn. (more on PTFE below) After my experience in Florida, I trusted the shirt enough to try it on the 50 miler.
The gamble paid off. I ran the TNF ECS 50 miles in temps ranging from 40ºs to mid-50ºs F, through sweat and chills wearing a hydration pack the whole time. No chafing, no issues. Not having to think about your gear on a 50 miler is amazing. The only time you would think about your gear is if it was creating a problem. After the I tossed the shirt in the hotel laundry bag, inspected my skin in the “shower test” and truly had no chafing. I was impressed. This is not a fashion piece, this is a piece of advanced running equipment. If you’re a gearhead and want performance, you need to try XOSKIN™.
What is your background in textiles and athletics?
I have 2.5 decades in technical textile materials. Extensive background in polymers, laminates, coatings, synthetic fiber manufacturing and 3D seamless knitting to include every conceivable product that is next to the skin from socks, sleeves, bottoms to base-layers. Besides being the founder of XOSKIN™, I am also the founder of Next Fiber Technology (NFT) a synthetic fiber development company that also developed the brands Copper CuTEC® and PTFE NanoGLIDE®.
I founded XOSKIN™ to bring a 21st-century approach to Technical Consumer Materials (TCM) by incorporating 3D seamless engineered knits and by combining this with current and future synthetic fiber innovations from our manufacturing trade secrets, patents and patent pending’s filed with the USPTO and EPO. This puts XOSKIN™ in a position to be the innovative leader in functional sport | outdoor athletic next to skin apparel with high-tech functionality and 3D aesthetic design.
Having a thorough understanding of polymers, materials, fibers and how capital equipment works, along with my core team being a serious group of sport and outdoor athlete’s puts our new company XOSKIN™ in a unique position to be able to combine a thorough understanding of how to design awesome 3D products for the athlete while combining these designs with unique fibers and by taking a 21st century approach to testing we believe our overall approach for TCM is and will continue to win over athletes of all ages and locally owned retailers.
We believe XOSKIN™ is much like an award winning handcrafted beer vs. a mass produced fabric and heat stamp.
What is your favorite sporting event? (that you participate in)
Mountain biking. Ground and pound with lots of rocks and technical riding.
What got you into textiles?
I was an Army Infantry Officer laying in an ambush site one November cold/rainy/wet night in 1983 with my alpha team. We were wearing the M65 field jacket, boots that were not water proof and gloves that were equally as bad. In other words, we were all miserable and I thought to myself there had to be better ways to develop innovative products for our men and women in uniform. After my military career my textile career started by developing new and improved DoD products in clothing and from there I have stayed in technical materials doing some cool stuff and meeting some great textile minds along the way that have shaped my professional career.
What made you interested in creating apparel in a market that has so many big players?
First, and foremost the hundreds of gear minded friends I enjoy the great outdoors with are always asking me why this product cost so much, what is the data behind this stuff, what do these marketing terms means, etc. Our regional wear testers for XOSKIN™ come from all walks of the sporting life style to include local high school athletes, ultra-runners, personal trainers, mountain bikers and even the United States Air Force Race Team. If you want brutally honest feedback and not marketing hype give your gear to wear testers that have no vested interest in your products or financial interest as a paid athlete.
Many sport/outdoor brands have been talking about functional clothing for decades. Manufacturers and brands have found “big words” to describe the limited progress made in textiles, but the clothing itself was hardly intelligent. The biggest problem with this apathy is that it has significant consequences and sub-par products.
Separating marketing fact from fiction can be difficult. Many brands combine “hydrophilic chemistry” in the dye bath with polyester fabrics and call it some big word. They combine this big word with compressive qualities of elastic fibers known for its exceptional elasticity-AKA Lycra®, Spandex® or Elastane®. What happens if you as a consumer are not sold on the performance without any third party data? More upping of the marketing hype.
Will this arms (legs, shoulders and back) race leave room for XOSKIN™? Our consumers and retailers say YES!
Why should a consumer care about copper?
First, the As Seen on TV world and all of their Copper products have really sold the consumer down the wrong path by combining compression clothing with alleged copper related qualities and many are making all types of questionable claims with the use of the word “Copper” with implied benefits to the consumer. Does the consumer or the USA regulatory agencies even know where these Copper products are produced and what kind of testing, safety and efficacy data are behind these Copper products and the claims being made?
When I read any marketing claim from the Sport/Outdoor industry I always ask myself show me some kind of data.
At XOSKIN™ we evaluate moisture management, vapor transmission, temperature regulation, abrasion control, the coefficient of friction, absorbency, skin wellness and comfort using many globally accepted test procedures.
We are here to inform you testing is not an exact science, however at XOSKIN™ we believe in testing our yarn technologies and knitted/fabric constructions vs. doing nothing and simply calling our smart clothing a “big word”.
Yes, Copper plays a role in reducing odor caused by bacteria but it also helps promote healthier skin texture, skin tone and skin wellness for the wearer creating a healthier environment for the skin surface. As the manufacturer of our own Copper fibers, we maintain extensive In Vitro and In Vivo data on file to support our Copper fibers and the claims that can be made. Our Copper fibers are manufactured in the USA.
What makes XOSKIN™ different than the way other manufacturers are using copper?
First, our manufacturing team has been involved with Copper and PTFE fiber R&D for over a decade. This includes unique and innovative PTFE and Copper fibers that we manufacture in the USA at our partner’s fiber factory in Hickory, North Carolina—Fiber and Yarn Products Incorporated (FYP) with over 40 years of experience manufacturing synthetic fibers. This collective experience from NFT/FYP includes a tremendous amount of In Vitro and In Vivo data to support our Copper and PTFE fibers. We own our processes which allows XOSKIN™ customers and retailers to know upfront that there are talented people behind the scenes with decades of wisdom and experience in textile manufacturing supporting the brand XOSKIN™ and the next to skin products we develop.
XOSKIN™ fabric reduces body heat by decreasing the skin to fabric friction while at the same time moving moisture faster over the PTFE fiber matrix causing the fabric and skin to stay dryer and cooler. The ionic Copper fiber matrix reduces odor causing bacteria while helping to promote skin wellness and a healthier environment for the skin.
What is PTFE?
PTFE is a fluorocarbon solid, as it is a high-molecular-weight compound consisting wholly of carbon and fluorine. PTFE is hydrophobic: neither water nor water-containing substances wet PTFE, as fluorocarbons demonstrate mitigated London dispersion forces due to the high electro-negativity of fluorine. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid.
The PTFE fibers in all XOSKIN™ products raise the bar taking moisture management, skin protection, abrasion, and comfort a quantum leap forward during high energy levels: 1) excellent moisture wicking, 2) enhanced durability, 3) ultra-fast drying, 4) reduces friction and 5) superb abrasion resistance.
What is your mission for helping athletes?
XOSKIN™ mission is to provide athletes with next to skin sport/outdoor technical apparel that really works, whether you cross train, lift weights, run, climb, bike, hike or serve and protect.
The goal for a next to skin product is to maintain user comfort during a range of activity levels across a range of ambient environmental conditions.
A base layer is worn next to the skin. The base layer must provide coverage and protection, appropriate thermal insulation and, importantly, a mechanism to move moisture away from the skin while supporting adequate rates of cooling. Some base layer functions will conflict with others. For example, as base layer insulation value increases, moisture transmission capability may be reduced. At XOSKIN™ we believe our products offer a “best” in class next to skin solution that can either be used as a stand-alone piece of gear or with additional clothing layers added to provide the levels of coverage, protection and insulation required for a range of conditions and activities.
The very motion of your technical fabric abrading against the skin in fact increases the body’s ability to generate heat, friction and moisture! Try it yourself – rub your hands together at a “jogging pace” and see how warm your hands get. Then do the same thing with a technical fabric between your hands and feel the difference. Furthermore, the body’s action in motion will create additional frictional heat as the fabric slides back and forth (or up and down) over your chest/arms/stomach/shoulders). And the higher the CoF (Coefficient of Friction) of the fabric, the greater the heat generation and discomfort to the skin.
The optimum form of sweat utilization is the evaporation of moisture directly from the skin to be released as water vapor. Most of the heat energy needed to evaporate the moisture is extracted from the body causing body temperature to drop. Only via the evaporation of liquids, and lower coefficient of friction can the body efficiently cool itself at high physical loads, which has served as a primary motivation for an increasing interest in the transport of liquids through clothing systems, yet less has been properly promoted and understood by sport/outdoor brands regarding the key role friction plays with moisture management, skin wellness and comfort.
Traditional functional base layers have never addressed heat flow from the skin through the clothing when the clothing is wet, and the co-efficient of friction is higher. Wet fabrics conduct heat and friction 3x faster than dry fabrics. Most base layers have two fundamental objectives- temperature control and moisture control. The two are closely interrelated, but what has not been addressed with base layers is the role inter skin-fabric friction plays, especially when wet.
Skin is vulnerable. Exact trouble depends on many factors: body mass, form and posture, heat and humidity, and the salts, minerals and moisture that make up perspiration. Add heat and humidity, the rate of evaporation of perspiration slows and intensity of the rubbing increases. If your skin breaks down, it’s usually because rubbing caused chafing, hot spots and blisters from increased fabric-skin friction which has worn away your skin. Risk of skin injuries also increases over time and distance.
As a market leader in next to skin solutions, XOSKIN™ provides functionality based on seamless knit technology ensuring perfect body-contoured fit for optimal movement. The innovative 3D seamless technologies such as sweat traps and air channels and complex engineered knitted zones operates in cold or warm weather that effectively reduces kinetic friction and increases moisture movement and dry times along with the combination of functional knitted construction and USPTO and EPO Patent Pending yarns were the basis for the development of the ultimate shape and function of the highest rated design-winning sport and outdoor next to skin athletic apparel. The natural body contours are emphasized and the muscle definition is accentuated – combining aesthetics and function to a perfect design.
Function means far more than just moisture transport and a big marketing word based on hype that shows minimum science and third party testing to the consumer, it means providing the consumer more technical information satisfying all of the needs of active sport and outdoor men and women that seek a competitive edge whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional athlete: Fitness, well-being, performance gear and last but not least looking good – and that includes during all inside and outdoor sporting activities.
If you could recommend one XOSKIN™ product, which would it be?
Each product we develop is unique and plays a different role for next to skin comfort depending on the intended end-use. If I had to pick one, the XOSKIN™ Form Fit base-layers for Men and Women are truly unique. Conforms to the body’s contours. We designed our Form Fit base layer tops to stretch approximately 4 inches in order to “conform to your body”, without the use of any elastic (AKA Spandex® or Lycra®). Elastic fibers are found in most “compression” products adding weight and making the garment hotter. XOSKIN™ Form Fit garments conform to the natural curves of your body, not stretch around the body like a compressed shirt that is constructed to be 1-2 sizes too small whereby you have to squeeze your torso into a shirt.
Why is made in the USA important to XOSKIN™?
Being in textiles and having so many textile relationships in the USA I believe it is critical to support USA made. The USA will never again dominate world manufacturing the way it did in the decades immediately following World War II but manufacturing is, can, and should remain an important part of our economic future. There are many other players in the game now but that doesn’t mean USA must leave the field.
What’s more, USA based manufacturing underpins a broad range of jobs that are quite different from the usual image of manufacturing. These are higher-skill service jobs that include the accountants, bankers, CAD designers and lawyers that are associated with any industry, as well as a broad range of other jobs including basic research and technology development, product and process engineering and design, operations and maintenance, transportation, testing, and lab work.
Most consumers in the USA would probably be amazed to learn for example that many advancements in wound healing products start with USA textiles leading the way to medical related jobs that start with a USA textile first.
Where can athletes purchase XOSKIN™?
On our website www.xoskin.us . Over the next 90 days, we will be coming out with several new next to skin products for men and women. We are also setting up several retailers in Maryland and providing them with custom XOSKIN™ displays. Additionally, during this time we will be expanding in different locally owned sport and outdoor stores in WV, VA, and PA.
What are your goals for XOSKIN™?
Our management team has set many goals for 2016 all circling around the growth of our company. Our main goal is to continue developing innovative and functional next to skin gear for athletes. We will be finishing up our men and women’s next to skin technical categories early in 2016 and then focusing on the development of our socks and arm/sleeves with the newest technical 3D machinery.
Additionally, we want to continue expanding in and around the MD tristate area. Many of these local stores and their staff have been involved in the wear testing and product reviews with XOSKIN™ from the onset. We are already is discussions with local stores in VA, WVA, and PA.
With expansion, we do not want our online business to impede our relationships or sales with our locally owned retailers. This being said, a goal we will be reviewing in 2016 is to have our website be a platform whose sole function may be for customers to view our merchandise. If a customer were to purchase an item our website would direct customers to the closest local retail establishment to purchase their products; making online sales a non-issue for the locally owned stores who carry our gear.
Locally owned shops have been the lifeblood of the industry for more than 35 years, providing a sense of community and spreading the knowledge and passion to all levels of active life styles in the outdoors. We realize that catalog and online sales have put a big crimp into small business in recent years, and now consolidation, expansion and other forms of competition are posing a threat to many other small shops around the USA. It doesn’t help that most (but not all) shoe and apparel brands sell directly from their own websites, a tactic that means small specialty retailers are also competing with the same brands they’re selling in their stores.
XOSKIN™ is aware of the current hurdles, but also the opportunities that exist for unique value-added products that challenge the status quo.
Final Note. Other than shirt samples, there were no other forms of compensation involved with this post. Opinions of the product were based on Thomas’ experience wear testing the samples.
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