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Tony DeBoom talks Endurance Conspiracy
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 2nd December 2015


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The Endurance Conspiracy (www.enduranceconspiracy.co.uk) brand launched in the UK earlier this year. The brand was developed in the U.S. in 2008 by brothers Tony and Tim DeBoom and had grown in popularity since then, for its "laid-back lifestyle... with soul" approach to endurance sports culture.

While Tim was twice Ironman World Champion, the creative direction for the brand comes from Tony DeBoom. An Ironman winner and professional athlete himself, Tony was a reserve for the U.S. Olympic team for Sydney 2000. A self-taught artist, the tagline for the brand is "the fit shall inherit the earth", reflected in the brands extensive range of t-shirts, cycling gear and accessories.

We talked to Tony about how the brand started, its growth, the journey, his own athletic career, expanding overseas and much more.


Endurance Conspiracy has been around for a number of years in the USA; can you tell us the how the company came together and the original plan behind the brand?

We all originally embraced endurance sports because we enjoyed and appreciated the lifestyle that it offered – being fit, enjoying the outdoors, travelling... We're trying to get back to our roots and promote the lifestyle side of sport. Endurance Conspiracy was a collaborative effort, bringing together classic ideas and friends who enjoy the pure expression of sport and art.

How would you describe the Endurance Conspiracy brand and ethos to those who are not familiar with it? Who would be a typical EC customer?

Our customer is that person interested in challenging themselves, seeking out new adventures. An appreciator of the simpler things in life, where all they need for a good day is a little time to venture outside and enjoy life, whether it be alone or with friends and family.

On the journey so far, what have been some of the highs and lows of the development of the brand?

As the creator, the low is never having enough time or resources to bring everything we want to do to fruition. We're a patient company and we're growing, but there's still a lot I can't wait to deliver on. Highs are easily all of the friends and fans we've connected with. Working with so many cool brands and individuals both within and beyond the borders of the industry.

Endurance Conspiracy T-Shirts

Your gear is worn by a number of top triathletes, but who have you seen wearing one of your t-shirts that you have stopped and thought, that was pretty cool?!

I love seeing top athletes wearing our stuff, but it's still the unexpected moments that are the best. Hanging out at the airport in a strange town and seeing someone walk by wearing an EC tee - that's pretty cool. We call those "EC in the Wild" moments.

Readers will likely be familiar with your brother Tim's wins in Kona, but you were a fine athlete yourself, Ironman winner and much more. Can you tell us a little more about your own sporting career?

I've been an athlete my entire life. Swam and played water polo division one for the Army, raced pro as a triathlete for a decade. I was definitely more of an adventurer or "journey" pro, meaning that I was more interested in exploring new roads or challenging myself physically than winning races. Don't get me wrong, I love to win and always gave my best, but I can't say that my training methods always equated to arriving at the starting line at 100%. I'm pretty proud of my career - I had some major victories, and I owe racing to meeting my wife and most of my friends.

Tony DeBoom ©Richard Melik / Freespeed.co.uk

In the UK now we have the Brownlee brothers, in Germany the Raelerts – did being brothers open up any additional marketing opportunities for you as athletes in terms of sponsorship while you were both racing?

Initially, Tim and I were marketed as a duo. But, pretty early on, we had different agendas. Tim was pretty dead set on Ironman, while I, while being also focused on Ironman, was more willing to give the Olympics a go and anything else for that matter. It didn't always equate to sponsors lining up.

I've read elsewhere that you described Tim's first win in Kona in 2001 as your own sporting highlight – can you tell us more about that?

Tim and I trained together for the bulk of our careers. When you train with someone on a daily basis for years, day-dreaming and talking about your goals and dreams, I knew exactly what that win meant to him...and me. It was the dream scenario that we spent countless hours discussing. Other than my wife, Tim is my best friend and I was totally stoked to see him win what was a very well earned and deserved victory!

What would you regard as your own best sporting performance from your career?

My biggest victory was probably Chicago back in '98. That was back in the day when Chicago was the biggest race in the world and the field was deep. I was recovering from a broken arm and the loss of my father that summer. I had no business racing as well as I did, considering how my preparation had been, but I found myself running stride for stride with the legend, Mike Pigg, with 1km to go. The best part of the story is that the next day, I was poured onto a plane (we used to celebrate big victories...), to Japan for Long Course Worlds on Sado Island and met my future wife later that day.

You have been in the UK market for a year now, what differences/similarities have you found in terms of requirements in clothing, and has this been surprising or what you expected?

European sizes are slightly different, so that's been a bit of a change as we have started production in the UK. And, just the understanding of the art in general. Some tees resonate differently in Europe than they do in the US. Germany definitely has a different sense of humor for example. Our plan moving forward is to add artists in Europe to help connect on a more personal level with the European athletes. So, if you think you've got what it takes, give me a holler.

Is there a particular design that has surprised you with how popular it is?

We're always amazed at how a particular product in a line does compared to expectation. A couple years back now I made a trucker hat with a cow on a surfboard (Surf & Turf), that took on a life of it's own. It's become a staple of the brand and will continue to show up on different items in the future. I guess it's just ridiculous enough to connect with people.

What is the most popular design in the US and the UK?

Our most popular item really depends on who you're talking to. In terms of volume sold, our Clyde has been a best seller since our first season. Wonderful Woman is definitely a best seller for the women. We have some tees that sell out so fast, it's as though they never went up for sell. As a small company it's difficult to always have the ability to maintain stock on some of the tees that go viral.

Clyde and Wonderful Woman

Taking the T-shirts as an example, what process do you go through to come up with designs, colours etc…?

My best ideas tend to come when I'm running or riding the trails around Boulder. But, they also come from everywhere... watching a movie, listening to music, reading...When you open your mind to the creative side, literally everything becomes inspiration.

Looking ahead what are the plans for EC globally and in the UK?

We've really enjoyed opening our first brick-n-mortar store in Boulder. We're keen on expanding on that concept - we'd love to have a shop in the UK. We also have really enjoyed working with our group in the UK and in Canada. We're interested in continuing to expand globally - probably Japan and OZ next. And, obviously, expanding on the line - I think we've got t-shirts down now and we're interested in offering a more expansive EC Collection.

If you could pick anyone in the world to be wearing an EC t-shirt, who would it be?

Obviously getting our t-shirts on tv and more mainstream is the path to success. But it's the real t-shirt aficionados - those individuals who are always seen in tees that mean the most to me. Sitting at a Jack Johnson concert and watching him walk out on stage wearing an EC tee - that was a surreal moment for our little company.

You were recently in Kona with the brand – what changes have you seen over the years in terms of the event, the athletes, the media etc?

Don't get me started on that can of worms! I come from the generation when you could qualify at an Olympic distance race and the Ironman race director would send everyone Christmas Cards. While the expansion of the sport has been great for a multitude of reasons, I would say that the sport has definitely lost a bit of its soul. Tim and I could never afford to get into the sport if we were starting out again, and that's sad. How many great young athletes are passing on triathlon because it's out of their price range?!

What are your own sporting activities these days – do you still take part in events at all?

Nowadays, I still train daily, but it's really up to the moment. Trail running and hitting the weights are pillars to my staying fit these days, but I still enjoy going out and getting lost in the high country. Tim and I have a saying, "all of life's problems can be solved above tree line". That's where we go to get our deep thinking done.

I haven't raced in years now and really don't intend to. I'm back to the reason I got into the sport in the first place - I love to train!

And my personal favourite T-shirt at the moment is the Island Hoppers Triathlon Team - What are the chances of Magnum, TJ and Higgins setting up a team and do you think Higgins would be the fastest runner?!

Higgy Baby would probably tell a story about how he developed the training plan and coached Roger Bannister during his build up to the four minute mile record and how he thwarted an attack on Bannister in the hours leading up to the record setting run.

Island Hoppers Triathlon Team


To find out more about Endurance Conspiracy, visit www.enduranceconspiracy.co.uk.

 

 
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