Development secret story vol.6 2023 model ①
Along with the growth of the trail running scene, the long race model "UT" exploded!
—Last time, we talked about the birth of the product “Rush,” which hit the trail running scene, and how it was accepted by runners. After that, Pergo Works will develop a race model called " UT ". Could you tell us about the background to this?
When “Rush” was first released, many of the people who used it regularly were trail running beginners. However, these runners have stepped up, saying, "I will participate in overseas races" and "I will challenge the 100 miles." Even if someone asks me, "Can I race in Rush 12 ?!" The "Rush" itself was somewhat of an antithesis to the racing models of overseas brands, and it was not a product targeting racing.
However, the growth of Japanese runners was actually remarkable, and I felt the need for a model for racing. That's why we worked on the development of " UT ". It's a trail run pack that can aim for the podium in the race.
At the same time, around 2016 , I went to Chamonix, France to inspect the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc: the world's largest trail running competition), and the atmosphere of the real trail running was amazing . The scenery of the mountains unique to Europe, the cool appearance of the top runners, and the atmosphere of the city of Chamonix are all stimulating. That's what I thought here. "I can't run the UTMB , but I think I can put the Rush on the podium." This is also one of the motivations for creating " UT ".
The first thing I made was a simple vest type. Only one piece of cloth. However, I thought, "Wait, wait, I should be able to do something more interesting." With the same concept as "Cargo 55 ", it features a back panel that fits the body and a combination of compartments according to the purpose.
Since the body is basically the same, you can choose one harness and the compartment according to the way you play. However, the fitting is subtle (laughs). By splitting the harness and compartments, the flexibility of the pockets was lost, and it was not stable when running in the first place. Well, as an idea, it's interesting, but it didn't lead to the concept of the "Rush" series, "Reduce stress for runners."
—It 's interesting as a structure, but it's not suitable for practical use when you actually think about racing.
There are so many gems of ideas like this. It's always a good idea to first give it a shape and then think about it from there. So, I thought that this separate type trail running pack was different, so I made this with the best type. There is a free pocket on the top, and it is designed to throw in luggage. There is also a pocket dedicated to the shell jacket that opens from the bottom. I wear a jacket when it's cold at the start, and take it off as soon as the traffic is gone after I start running. If you take off your jacket and put it in the bottom pocket while running, it's OK . By the way, at the Hasetsune Cup in 2018, Yoshihara, who became a tester, finished in 2nd place. We were confident that the prototype could be put to practical use in the race.
The other is a prototype with a slightly larger capacity. It 's designed to raise the center of gravity and increase the sense of stability . We brushed up this type and released it under the name " UT ".
Nowadays, the UT has the image of being a flagship model for racing, but at the time it was positioned as an advanced development prototype. I thought that the completion of " UT " was still ahead, so I wanted to finish it while receiving feedback from the runners.
That's why the sales were so special. Instead of selling to an unspecified number of people, I wanted runners who could run long distances to challenge 100 miles. Only 100 first lots . I wanted to create " UT " together with runners who are serious about trail running . By the way, bibs up to number 100 were also enclosed. This is the playfulness of Pergo Works, "It's a pack that targets racing, so wouldn't it be fun if the bib arrived together? "
At the same time, buyers were given access to Facebook communities. If you access and join a group, you can have a discussion. In other words, it was a community-linked product.
UT 's mission is to evolve. At trail running competitions and events, we receive feedback and questionnaires from users to brush up. The purchase conditions were also limited to those who could challenge the 100 miles or run 100km or more, so when I set up a booth at races, UT users would come to visit.
We listen to things like usability and points for improvement, and organize them as data. I still have all of them left, but this many runners have come to the booth. How do we reflect this voice in our products? It was also a lot of pressure.
Not only the real event, but also the opinions gathered on the internet community were very useful. I used a Google form to fill out a survey, but when I tallied it up, I could see the positives and dissatisfactions that everyone felt. In the end, we upgraded the UT roughly every two years, and made it up to the third generation.
With the release of "UT", I was able to meet not only top runners who aim for the top of the race, but also superhuman and interesting runners who compete in overseas stage races and adventure races. They are people who are experiencing things that they can't even imagine. Just hearing their stories makes me excited, and as a designer, I feel like I want to meet their expectations. After all, I'm a designer, so I always want to create new things.
As expected, it was the first time to do this much work on one model. It was really exciting. At the same time, I was able to show the brand's stance that it is serious about making trail running packs for racing, and I think people understood that Pergo Works is a manufacturer that is developing and manufacturing.
—How did you change your way of thinking in the development of "Rush" and " UT " so far ?
The big difference is the usage environment. Everything is tough when it comes to running a 100- mile race. I'm running all day and night without sleeping, so I'm always in extreme conditions. The backpack must function reliably while the runner is in a daze. As a daypack design, it is quite severe.
There may be cases where it is difficult to use the pocket and replenishment becomes troublesome, and it becomes impossible to run. Because it is difficult to access the main area, you may forget to put your luggage in or drop it. The finish of the backpack may affect the result of the race. It was quite difficult to respond to this seriousness, but at the same time, it felt rewarding.
The sales were very special. I mentioned earlier that we only made 100, but since UT wasn't a product that could reach many people, there was no promotion. I just played an image movie, and did not upload information about " UT " on the website .
At first, I sent two samples to only 6 stores that have been dealing with "Lush" for a long time , and had them fitted at the store, and if it was good, I applied. I also needed proof that I had raced the 100km .
Because it was a limited production, the number of sales per store was small, and the business was small in the first place. Contrary to my expectations, however, the response from the runners was surprisingly large. It seems too big. There were so many 100 Milers.
From a runner's point of view, it is a super rare item that can't catch information unless the antenna is up. The reason why I dared to sell it in a way that makes it difficult to buy was also an antithesis to the market where you can buy anything by just googling it. However, there was also the risk of being hated. Until now, it was "everyone's rush", but suddenly it's a rush. I was worried about that, and there were a lot of people who were frustrated that they couldn't get it, so I'm sorry, but the satisfaction of those who got it was high.
—Also , the renewal of the “New Rush” is awaiting, but how did the “ UT” that created the relationship with the popularization of the “Rush” and the top runner work ?
The first generation "Rush" was a product that presented my proposal to the world. It's a test of your skills as a designer. Model change is the process of listening to users' voices and generalizing "rush". In the meantime, the number of runners has increased, and the number of people who are active in the race has also increased. I definitely felt that we had grown up together.
Runners who use "Rush" are truly assets. That's why I wanted to make a trail run pack with everyone, and I began to think that if everyone's voices were collected, we could do something amazing.
By the way, for several years now, I've been saying that development is "product communication," which is two-way communication between the user and the manufacturer through the product. We provide our products to users. Users use it and give feedback. Through this two-way catch-up, we create good products. As a result, user satisfaction will increase and the brand will be loved.
It's a matter of course, but I'm thinking of making this "product communication" the core of Pergoworks. And I wanted to practice it in the renewal of "Rush".
Prototyping starts with putting together a huge amount of information and putting it into shape. Rather than thinking about the product, I prioritized understanding what everyone was thinking and embodying it. Once the prototype is ready, have the runners involved in the testers evaluate it. The feeling of "I'll get it recognized" and "How about what I made!" "Isn't it fine?" "You want to use it, right?!"
As a result, I spent too much time on the prototype, but I think it was because of this process that I was able to make a good product.
— So it was a long-awaited renewal.
As I have said many times, the mind is the designer. I want to make things for someone. Pergoworks products are not my self-expression, nor are they products to make my business bigger. Rather than being a self-righteous designer, I want to be a brand that exists with users.
The launch of Pergo Works was also a test of my own skills. Whether or not people will use the things they sell. At first, we were fumbling around, but now we have an ideal relationship of creating things together with our users. The culmination of that relationship is the “New Rush”. Next time, I would like to talk about the details of the renewed "New Rush". In the end, we only talked about the previous night (laughs).