The Perfect Fit: Interview with iXS USA’s Didier Devaux

Nov 02, 2016 View Comments by

iXS USA

The story of iXS USA began in Switzerland more than a century ago with a tiny bicycle repair shop. Started by the Hostettler family in 1906 and still owned by them to this day, that tiny shop evolved into what is now known as the Hostettler Group, a diversified international trading conglomerate consisting of eight independent companies specializing in the automotive, cycling, and motorcycle industries.

The iXS brand was established in Europe in 1979 and has become synonymous for premium quality, exemplary comfort, outstanding functionality, and uncompromising safety. The company’s mission is to blend state-of-the-art protection with high-quality design using the latest technologies. With such a huge presence in Europe, and positive responses worldwide, the decision to push the brand into new markets was made with the launching of iXS USA.

RR: What is your background in the motorcycle industry?
Didier Devaux: After my career as a professional triathlete, I began to explore the world of international marketing and distribution for the sports industry. Through those endeavors, I made my way into the motorcycle industry, where I worked for over 20 years for multiple brands, including a major European motorcycle helmet and apparel maker where I oversaw production, development, and distribution for several years before making my way to iXS.

Congrats on the launch of iXSUSA.com. What prompted the decision to bring the brand to North America? What has the reaction been like since launching?
We decided to bring iXS to North America because we wanted to establish our footprint and expand our international brand recognition. So far, we have received a positive reaction since the launch. With a small but strong following already established in the U.S., fans of iXS were thrilled to know of our new presence in North America. iXS is already a well-known brand in Europe.

Didier DevauxWhat are your greatest challenges in increasing its exposure in North America?
Introducing a foreign product into a market that already has well-established brands will always entail some sort of difficulty. For us, we are not only looking for where we fit into the North American market, but also what is missing from it.

In your experience, is there a significant difference between what North American and European motorcycle riders are looking for in their gear?
Absolutely! Our mission at iXS has always been to help the consumer find “the perfect fit” and understand what it means to be protected while riding. This means focusing on blending high-quality comfort, protection, and technical features into one, because the most important thing about protection is having a proper fit. One thing we’ve come to realize is that European riders highly value protection and look for that in their riding gear, and the same can be said about riders in North America, but for many riders in the U.S. the first choice is usually about how the gear looks, rather than how it protects.

iXS really focuses on a wide variety of riders and apparel, from adventure to vintage, street, and motocross. Has one segment been particularly popular among North American dealers and buyers?
All of our segments have received a positive reaction from riders, but I will say that our men and women’s adventure gear is really starting to take off because of the versatility and functionality it offers. By using lightweight, breathable, and layered materials, we’ve designed apparel that’s ready for anything and any type of weather, and suitable in even the most difficult conditions. There seems to be more of an emphasis on the brand being a fashionable option for riders.

Do you feel like stylish gear was lacking in the North American market?
Not at all, anywhere you go you will see stylish gear. Even though there is an emphasis on our brand being a fashionable option, our blend of style and technology is what sets us apart. Many times, a rider has to make a compromise between the two.

What have you learned in the process of bringing a European brand to North America? Has anything surprised you?
A lot! Even though we prepared our arrival by doing a survey of the U.S. market as a whole, along with each individual state, I’m still surprised by how huge the United States is and how each state has its own identity, sort of like its own country within a country. We realized that something could be successful in one state and not do as well in another one. But what has surprised me the most is how our brand has been welcomed by motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S.

Similar to Team iXS, will there be a Team iXS USA?
Absolutely! Team iXS sponsors professional athletes and racers of all levels, from grassroots locals to world champions, and we are in the process of developing our team of U.S. riders too.

iXS USA jacketWhat are some of your personal favorite items and why?
It depends on what type of riding I’m doing. If I’m on my Ducati Panigale 899, I always use the Dundrod perforated leather jacket and goatskin Cube gloves because of the optimal ventilation I get. On hot days down here in Florida, it really helps beat the heat. If I’m just doing a Sunday cruise, I throw our classic Flagstaff jacket on, so I can ride in style.

What are you looking forward to in 2017 and beyond? What goals do you hope to reach?
I’m definitely looking forward to and planning for more growth by recruiting the right people to help expand our team and brand exposure in North America. Ideally, we want to establish the iXS in the U.S. as it is in Europe, and to do that we need to get the right people in place—people who feel as passionate about motorcycle protective gear as we do.

What’s the best way for riders to stay up to date on your events and offerings?
Our monthly newsletter is a great way for riders to stay up to date on all of our latest events and offerings, along with following us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or visiting iXSUSA.com.

Didier Devaux is the managing director for iXS USA and has been working in the motorcycle industry since 1994. His passion for motorcycles was ignited at an early age. Growing up in France, Didier had the cycling world all around him, and as a teenager he competed in many cycling competitions and later as a professional triathlete. His enthusiasm for the open road led him into a career focused on cycling, and later into the motorcycle apparel industry. After traveling around the world, he now lives in South Florida, and enjoys meeting with local riders and helping to educate them on the importance of using gear and finding the perfect fit. In his garage, you’ll find a Ducati 899 Panigale that he takes out every chance he gets.

Photography: iXS USA

Tours, tankbag maps, tips, and more: subscribe to RoadRUNNER today!

Tags: , , , , Categories: Chronicles