Alloy MX: Don’t Call Them a Euro Brand

Alloy MX’s path to market has been a little unusual, to say the least. Since the newcomers to the apparel landscape first launched their gear on the European scene in the hands of Englishman James Dobb, many people labeled it as a Euro brand—something that’s not always conducive to MX apparel success, and a label Alloy would be happy to avoid. And while the gear was highly visible and creating a buzz on the GP circuit, it was also unavailable for purchase. Production gear first started shipping in Europe during the Fall of ’02, and will be available in the U.S. in late March or early April. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the first riders signed to ride in Alloy gear were teen sensations Mike and Jeff Alessi, who scored a four-year deal—once again outside the usual scheme of most apparel companies, who rely heavily on pro rider endorsements to help move their product.

While their methods might look a little unusual, there’s definitely some talent behind the brand. A couple of the primary players are Neil Calvesbert (former President of Fox Racing), and Ben Masek (who came to Alloy after six years as a National Account Manager at Oakley).

We spotted the Alloy crew at the Indy trade show, where they were

doing commando-style guerilla marketing. Boothless and operating out of a gear bag, they were showing off gear samples to magazines, industry friends and reps…simple and effective. They also expect to have a much bigger show presence next year.

Back on the home front, the Alloy crew stopped by the TransWorld MX offices this week to drop off some gear, and we laid out a few questions for Ben.

TransWorld Motocross: Can you give us a little background on how Alloy got started?

Ben Masek: Actually, the Alloy brand was started by the former CEO of Fox, Neil Calvesbert. He left Fox a little over two years ago. He had a non-compete clause, so during the year it was in place, he just kind of hung around. After that was done, he developed Alloy, and the product for Jamie Dobb to wear in the GP series.

TWMX: The gear was on the track long before it became available to the public. How did that work?

BM: It was great, because we actually had a guy who was riding and racing in the product before we even released anything or made any production. We started shipping product in Fall ’02 to the European distributors, and we’ve kind of held off on opening up the U.S. office, or really getting any product out until Spring of this year, because we signed Mike and Jeff Alessi back in October of 2002. Their Fox contract didn’t end until December 31st of ’02, so for us, we wanted to make sure we had a pretty big impact coming into this season, and we wanted to pump up Mike and Jeff Alessi. Obviously they’re going to do a lot for us in the future, and hopefully right now as well.

TWMX: Since Neil’s based in the U.K., and all your initial visibility was over there, what kind of challenges do you have trying to avoid making it look like another Euro brand?

BM: You know, a lot of people have brought that up, and we really don’t treat it as a Euro brand. It’s two separate companies because of logistics, but it’s one company. We have a designer that works out of this (U.S.) office, and we have a couple designers that work over there. We just happened to release the product in Europe before we released it into the United States. We really don’t try to deem it an AXO, or maybe an Acerbis or Alpinestars where the majority of the stuff is done overseas. Really we try to look at ourselves as more of a world brand.

We wanted to make sure when we released the product over here in the Spring, that we had Mike and Jeff on the program, not just J.D. over in Europe, because we obviously knew that people would perceive the brand as being a European brand. It’s really not. We don’t want be pigeonholed as a European brand, or even as a U.S. brand for that matter. We want to have a cool image, a cool product, and go from there.

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TWMX: Since you had Dobb for a whole season in Europe before the stuff was even available to the public, did it create a lot of demand?

BM: Yeah, it was pretty cool, actually. We had the Web site up and running, as well. We were going through some design stuff, and had a couple of the images up on the Web site, and you could contact us if you wanted to receive the premiere edition of the 2003 catalog. The e-mail hits that we received were abundant, and that was from all over the world. The U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico, South America, everywhere.

My background is that I came from Oakley. I was at Oakley for six years, and they did a very good job of sometimes coming out with a product before everyone could get it, to stir up a demand. I think also that people are hungry for a new brand right now. Obviously all the big hitters are doing an extremely good job. Their products are absolutely insane. But, I think people are looking for a new vibe out there, and hopefully that’s what we’re going to provide for them. A new revolution.

TWMX: What’s the goal of the gear? Simplicity? Radical new innovative designs?

BM: Yeah, I think it’s going to be a little bit of both. I know that we would like to be the type of brand that always pushes the envelope, but at the same time, we have to hold ourselves and our designers back a little bit because the consumers will only push themselves out of the box so much. We understand that we have to have a good combination between far-out design and good product. Then also, what the mainstream consumer is also going to accept into their buying habits. We’ve got to walk that line.

TWMX: What is it that’s going to separate you from everyone else in that market?

BM: For us, we really want to try to make the dealer and consumer understand that the product is king. Ultimately, two years down the road, if somebody bought our product this year, and then two years down the road needed a new pair of pants and he goes into a shop and looks at what he wants, he’s going to know that that Alloy, for him, worked very well. The quality and engineering and design and functionality of the product is what he’s going to remember in the back of his head, rather than who’s riding on our product.

We also wanted to make sure that dealers are making money on it, so we developed a cool little pricing structure where if they order x amount of dollars they get x percentage off their orders, and so on and so forth. They get good product, they get good pricing, and then we’re going to do our best to do a good image program and a good branding, so they get all three of them.

TWMX: Why go with two top Amateur guys rather than a top pro?

BM: For us to sign a one-year deal with somebody, then possibly have that top rider move to another clothing line the following year just doesn’t behoove us as much. We can actually spread our money out a little bit more and hit more pockets in a grass-roots sports marketing type thing, and hopefully get some of the young kids aware of the brand and get that brand loyalty while they’re young, and then all the way through the ages. We feel like the 30+ guys have been through a couple different brands, and maybe they’re more price-conscious or they’re just looking for the new thing that’s coming out. New color waves, or Thor’s coming out with this or Fox is coming out with that, and they’ve grown up with that. So they’re a little bit more loyal to those brands. What we’re trying to do is have longevity in this industry, so what we’re trying to do is seed that grass-roots sports marketing and get these kids involved with our program early on, so 10-15 years down the road, they’re still involved with Alloy because they grew up with it.

We’re banking on ’05 (when Mike Alessi turns pro) for sure. In the meantime, too, we’re definitely looking at some other riders. People have asked, ‘Get one top guy here, and one top guy there.’ For us, too, we want to make sure that the individuals that we do select to support and have on our program, we want them to be individuals. We want them to speak well for themselves and for Alloy, and hopefully that’s a good combination and a good relationship. We don’t need a ton of riders out there, we just want the good riders.

TWMX: What’s the cost going to be like on the gear?

BM: We will be right in the range with everyone else. We have a high-end pant at $155 that can easily compete with higher retail pants. We also have a $99 pant that crushes other pants at the same price point. We consider ourselves a premium quality brand.

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TWMX: What’s going to be the biggest obstacle for you guys? Is it the big companies like Thor and Fox? Or just getting recognition?

BM: I hate to say this, but I don’t see there being an obstacle. I really don’t. We’re willing to be very, very patient. We’re not going to get out there and expect to be number one, number two, or number three right off the bat. We want to be in this for a long time, so we’re going to be very smart with our money, our choices of who we support, our product, our sales force, our marketing and advertising and so on and so forth. We truly feel that there there’s enough room for us, and even more people to come in and make some money, do a good job, and have fun. That’s why we’re all in this industry.

Contact:
Alloy MX
11 Orchard Rd., Ste 102
Lake Forest, CA 92688
Tel: 949-458-6686
Fax: 949-458-6685
www.alloymx.com

e road, they’re still involved with Alloy because they grew up with it.

We’re banking on ’05 (when Mike Alessi turns pro) for sure. In the meantime, too, we’re definitely looking at some other riders. People have asked, ‘Get one top guy here, and one top guy there.’ For us, too, we want to make sure that the individuals that we do select to support and have on our program, we want them to be individuals. We want them to speak well for themselves and for Alloy, and hopefully that’s a good combination and a good relationship. We don’t need a ton of riders out there, we just want the good riders.

TWMX: What’s the cost going to be like on the gear?

BM: We will be right in the range with everyone else. We have a high-end pant at $155 that can easily compete with higher retail pants. We also have a $99 pant that crushes other pants at the same price point. We consider ourselves a premium quality brand.

[IMAGE 2]

TWMX: What’s going to be the biggest obstacle for you guys? Is it the big companies like Thor and Fox? Or just getting recognition?

BM: I hate to say this, but I don’t see there being an obstacle. I really don’t. We’re willing to be very, very patient. We’re not going to get out there and expect to be number one, number two, or number three right off the bat. We want to be in this for a long time, so we’re going to be very smart with our money, our choices of who we support, our product, our sales force, our marketing and advertising and so on and so forth. We truly feel that there there’s enough room for us, and even more people to come in and make some money, do a good job, and have fun. That’s why we’re all in this industry.

Contact:
Alloy MX
11 Orchard Rd., Ste 102
Lake Forest, CA 92688
Tel: 949-458-6686
Fax: 949-458-6685
www.alloymx.com