Boaters know the brand name Gill. They know it means waterproof outerwear that can stand up to the seas. They know it means quality construction that holds up for years. When boaters see the Gill logo, they know what to expect.
Therein lies the problem for David Pritchard, Gill North America’s senior vice president.
“One of the challenges we’ve had is that we’re seen as tried-and-true,” he says. “It’s like the old Ford Model T. We’re solid-performing, very reliable, very capable for many years. What we’re striving toward now is to modernize and be more inclusive, and attract not just the older demographic, but also the younger audience with more modern designs and styles.”
Gill is now offering three product lines: Active, Performance and Race. Each is being tweaked with new styles, colors and features, with the hopes of impressing boaters in the nearly 40 countries where Gill products are sold.
The Active line is not just for the boat, but also for the boating scene, with pieces that include shorts, skorts and shirts resistant to ultraviolet rays. The company has updated styling as well as materials to keep the clothing at SPF 50+ while allowing each piece to hang better off the body.
“It’s absolutely perfect for on and off the boat use,” he says. “They look great at the bar, and they’re also water-repellent with lots of pockets. It’s just a really nice lifestyle short.”
Also new in the Active line are entry-level sunglasses. Whereas Gill used to sell all its sunglasses at a retail price of $90, these are $60 and $65.
“They’re 100 percent polarized with a high-quality lens,” Pritchard says. “The Performance sunglasses float, but the Active sunglasses are wire frame and don’t float. It still offers 100 percent polarized protection, which is important on the water.”
The Performance line of outerwear is what most boaters will recognize, with offshore and foul-weather gear. The new product to watch in that line is called the OS2, version four.
“This is an offshore rain suit that is the cornerstone of our line,” he says. “It’s what all the cruisers, all the racers to Bermuda, all the people who are on the water regularly are going to want.”
Also coming to stores this spring is a line of backpacks and luggage.
“Younger customers are all about the next experience, the next adventure — they’re always on the move,” he says. “We’re building more marine luggage around that: dry bags, backpacks, luggage that is durable and waterproof, something that you can throw in the tender.”