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  • Nov

    Brand Q&A: Catching Up With MP Michael Phelps

    The new MP Michael Phelps brand launched in early 2015 with a line of performance goggles and continued with the much-awaited debut of the XPRESSO tech suit, worn in competition by the most decorated Olympian of all-time himself. This fall featured the debut of the MP line of training suits and the brand continues to expand its offerings. We caught up with representatives from Aqua Sphere responsible for the MP Michael Phelps brand to get the latest scoop on swimming’s newest performance line. Blog: It’s been just over a year since the MP brand was announced, we’re guessing it’s been a busy year. Tell us some of the biggest things that were needed to get the brand up and running!

    MP Michael Phelps: We engaged our global team, from top management through Marketing, Product Development and Sales. It was critical to set-up a way to seamlessly feed ideas from Michael and Bob (Bowman) to our Marketing and Product Development teams. As we identified new product opportunities, we integrated Michael and Bob in the proof of concept and prototype testing to verify that we were meeting their expectations. When launching a new brand, it’s critical that it stands for something different and that the products clearly represent that; Michael Phelps has a vision to change the sport of swimming and the MP brand is one way to help accomplish this vision. Blog: So take us through then how Michael and his coach Bob Bowman have provided input during the product development process?

    MP Michael Phelps: Michael and Bob are driving the product development priorities. They have very clear ideas about what can be improved or is missing from the market and our job is to convert their ideas to real, working products. This involves in-person meetings with our global product teams where we brain storm, we discuss and evaluate their needs in depth, and get in the water to test products. They are providing feedback through the process from initial product design concept to prototype testing and then eventual final product validation. Blog: Where and how was most of your product testing done?

    MP Michael Phelps: The majority of the product testing is done wherever Michael is training at the time that a prototype is ready to be tested. This has taken place at Meadowbrook in Baltimore, at the Olympic Training Center, at the Olympic pool in Munich, and now in Arizona. For minor updates, we also work with a number of local competitive swimmers that are near our product development centers in Italy, France, Germany and the USA. Blog: Tell us the inspirations behind the designs of the new training suits?

    MP Michael Phelps: Michael has a very particular style of suit that he likes to wear and he likes bright, different prints. Provided the amount of time he spends training in the water, durability and chlorine resistance were important features. All of the prints were designed by our swimwear product team and then selected by Michael, and the naming nomenclature is themes from his hometown Baltimore, which is near and dear to him – places like Canton, Fells, etc. Blog: Obviously Michael has performed terrifically in the XPRESSO Jammer and the women’s kneeskin had a great review from our independent reviewer, are you working with any other elite swimmers, male or female who might wear the suit in Rio?

    MP Michael Phelps: It was really exciting to watch Michael’s performances at USA Nationals and we’re really proud that the XPRESSO is now associated with the fastest textile suit times in history (based on current FINA textile regulations) for the 200 IM, 100 fly, and 200 fly. Our number one priority is taking care of Michael and Bob’s needs. We’re committed to building the best products available to support the MP brand and certainly this is attracting other world class athletes. While the brand is seeing strong adoption in the market, we’re not in a position to make any major announcements at this time. Blog: Our initial MP line at features the XPRESSO tech suit, training suits, goggles and snorkel, what other items can we expect in the near future?

    MP Michael Phelps:
    Our Product Development team has been working on an expanded line of training equipment as well as Michael’s 2016 new competition goggle (XCEED) and cap (X-O). The XCEED goggle and X-O racing cap are our first fully collaborative, FINA-approved, goggles and cap, which were designed with Michael and Coach Bowman. We will also be expanding the line of training suits, adding a new women’s cut and men’s Jammer and brief, and introducing some fun new prints. So it should be an exciting year for swimmers looking for new product designs from MP Michael Phelps.

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