First off, let’s tackle the elephant in the room – how are you supposed to pronounce Etxeondo? Marketing manager Nestor Arana sets us straight: it sounds like Etch-e-ondo and means ‘close to the house’. Why? The first Etxeondo workshop was set up in a farmhouse called Etxeondo – the brand was named in honour of that farmhouse.
So, humble beginnings for the Spanish brand which has been around since 1976, when it was founded by Francisco Rodrigo. Despite that modest start, Etxeondo is a resolutely premium brand, with mid to high-end prices.
Those roots are played on with the logo. The E and O vowels make up the logo, which simultaneously represents a traditional Basque haystack – a symbol of effort and hard work in the Basque country.
The brand has stuck to its geographical roots and has two facilities – a factory in Irura, a municipality near San Sebastián and the product is then sewn in Castejón, in the municipality of Navarra, another region with firm cycle roots and also the home of Miguel Indurain.
Founder and sports fan Rodrigo moved into cycle clothing after a career in a sublimation workshop on top brands by high-end fashion designers – Dior and Balanciaga.
Arana explains: “Since 1976, Etxeondo has focused on making the best product for the most demanding cyclists. From the very start, exquisite care is given to every detail; an obsession for creating the best product by using only the best materials, craftsmanship and suppliers. Meticulous quality control measures have been implemented in each of the manufacturing processes, and all clothing is produced locally in our own facilities. We make our products to the standards of the most serious cyclists. Our products aim to perform for both a mellow Sunday morning ride as well as a hard core training session or professional competition. We focus on fit and comfort.”
Etxeondo has had a limited crack at the UK cycle market so far, at least until Zyro started distribution in 2012.
“We’ve seen a very positive reaction from the trade and encouraging sales for a brand which was practically unknown in the UK,” admits Zyro brand manager Ian Young.
“This has been challenging with only close followers of the international road scene and those with an interest in niche performance apparel having an awareness of the brand’s heritage. Unlike many of the new school ‘top end’ road brands Etxeondo is not built on clever marketing stories or a fabricated heritage. It is a brand that is simply built on fantastic product and a genuine passion for the sport.”
Product quality is where the brand excels, according to Young: “This comes from the attention to detail applied to the in-house production, ensuring every item is produced to the highest possible standard, constructed using only the highest quality fabrics, trims and production techniques.”
While there are prices that will only be accessible to high-end customers, Etxeondo is bringing its quality message attainable with a greater range of mid-priced range. Young says: “You don’t have to break the bank to experience the quality with bib shorts for SS13 starting from £79.99 (up to £239.99) and a new Gore Windstopper fronted Jacket coming in at £149.99 for AW13. These accessible items let people get a taste for the brand and more often than not they start to buy up to the higher end items. The Feather bib short (£179.99) and matching short sleeve Jersey (£119.99) demonstrate what Etxeondo can achieve when they put their minds to it. These products are designed to be light but not cut down on performance or quality.”
For the spring/summer 2013 season the Orhi bib short is a key product. Arana explains the appeal: “The innovation of this bib short is in the straps,” he says. “Maximum comfort and amazing fit with the new one-piece straps developed using the latest seamless anti-tear technology. Using the chamois as the shorts produced for Blanco and retailing at £139.99, this is a great short for any level of rider.”
Zyro says the Etxeondo logo is cropping up more and more at sportives and club rides around the country. The brand fits right in at Zyro too, Young says: “With Altura, our in- house clothing brand, bib shorts topping out at £100 Etxeondo provides a perfect platform for us to supply the rider who is happy to invest in extra special riding kit and sport an exclusive logo.
“This is a big growth market in the UK with average prices of road bike sales increasing steadily year-on-year and a big demand for the apparel to these bikes justice.
“We are confident that the brand will become a major player in the UK road clothing market.”