Industry.AU // FIST Handwear 10 years in the game!
Ten years deep in the game, Sam Moore knows a thing or two about gloves and running a business down under. With the release of their latest chapter, Fist has evolved into a force in handwear and beyond, both here and internationally.
We caught up with Sam to get some insights into how he started from his bedroom in Tasmania and grew it into one of the most recognisable ‘glove’ brands on the planet.
[R] // FIST has grown to become an awesome big beast of a company however it wasn’t just an overnight success like some people think, could you give us a brief history of the brand?
I started FIST out of my bedroom nearly 11 years ago! It was always a side project as I always had full time jobs within the action sport industry, this however allowed me to go to events and be in and out of stores constantly being able to put the FIST brand in the mix with everything that was happening. I think allowing the brand time to mature and stand on its own two feet without taking from it is a big part of why it has been successful in the long run. People are always too quick to want to pull funds from businesses, anything that is going to be stable long-term needs time to mature.
The brand has clearly a brand built on a tremendous amount of hard work and passion, and over the past decade there’s been a whole lot of blood sweat and tears gone into it. What has been stoking your inner fire throughout that time?
My inner fire is really just a passion for action sports and the athletes surrounding it. My whole childhood I just wanted to be involved in the industry. Initially I wanted to be a pro motocross rider, but I figured out at about 14 years old that wasn’t going to happen, so I really just wanted to build my life around the sports and people that I love.
Were there any hurdles launching a brand out of Tassie ‘vs if you were up on the mainland the whole time?
Yes and no. I feel like if I had been based on the “mainland” things would have happened faster but taking time and making more calculated moves I think have helped in the long run. Instead of just going to every event or expo, I just has to be more particular when I did get to do those things and put more effort in when I did.
How did the name FIST come about?Were you and Jase (Gypsy Tales) just talking about some past encounters or was it a little bit more literal?
Haha, nah so not as exciting or weird as people think… I wanted something that fit on the knuckles that was to do with a hand, and I felt that HAND was too literal. FIST it was.
How long did it take from the first inception of FIST to the first production? How many prototypes/test products did you go through?
I was quite lucky that I had some great advice from the start, I tried a couple of factories then found one who was willing to work with me on smaller quantities. So probably 4-5 rounds of samples then we came to what I wanted. We basically mongered together 2-3 of my favourite gloves that where in the market at the time. I still have the first pair.
Your gloves are some of the most durable we have ever worn. What were some aspects of gloves that are surprisingly hard to develop?
Honestly, my approach to the whole thing was that brands where over engineering their gloves. Less is more and tighter the better are the two aspects I’ve always worked on. Working with stretchy / pliable material and having the glove be as fitted to that natural hand form is my secret to the best performing glove. Comfort is key and to always remember that the glove is the main contact pad to controlling the bike so the less you think about the glove or notice that you’re wearing it the better it is. NEVER skimp on quality, we use the best materials available especially on the palm side and we always use Clarino which is a Japanese made synthetic leather because we believe it is the best in the market.
You have now got a winter glove, summer glove and a standard glove. How long did it take for you to get comfortable enough to try these newer designs?
Basically, it took a couple of our international distributors with extreme cold temperatures to keep yelling at me to get a cold weather glove going, and I am glad they did! It has been amazing for us and opened so many doors to sell gloves into climates that needed them. I am super proud of the Frosty Fingers product and I think we have developed a product with the right balance of feel and warmth. They’re super warm but you also don’t feel like you’re wearing a sleeping bag. The hot weather glove basically came the season after to balance that out… When one side of the world is freezing the other is boiling right? – Especially on the Gold Coast where we are now based the Breezer glove has been amazing for our crew personally for riding in the warmer temperatures, but I know we have got some marketing to do on these because they are such a great product but only new so sales have not been reflecting yet.
You have done some sick collabs with your athletes, Harry Bink, Robbie Maddison, Alex Hiam, and Caroline Buchannan come to mind off the bat. How do these collabs work, are you designing them or do the athletes work with a graphic guy themselves?
Usually we will just discuss with the athlete what they’re digging at the time or something that fits with their personality and what they have going, this can even be what is their favourite food or something they’re passionate about. I like it to be a snapshot of their personality at that point of their career. I love when we can get someone who is on their A-Game and have a little fun with what they are wearing. Never too serious, because that’s no fun.
What has been your favourite graphic to date?
Man, that’s like asking me which of my kids is my favourite (I have no kids haha) Umm I think probably ‘The Animal’ Which was a Leopard / Zebra combo glove. But I love all of our signature gloves. I just love that it is snapshot into the athlete’s personality and that we work with the to make something uniquely theirs. They tell a story. That’s important.
In the grand scheme of things what do you hope the future holds for the brand?
I love being able to support our crew to be able to do what they love and in turn spread the good vibes. I don’t like to take things to seriously. Growth is awesome, but it just allows us to do more cool shit.
I just want to spread joy and good times on two wheels and allow people to express themselves through the products we make.