Whilst in San Francisco, I visited DZR Shoes where I caught up with Brain Dillman, who’s now their business development manager, to learn more about the brand and some of their latest doings…
Cosmic: What’s the history behind DZR and the set up of the brand today?
Brian: DZR started when Fabio and Shane met each other while working at Scott in Switzerland. Fabio has crazy amounts of experience in the industry. He is a former Italian trials champion, started downhilling before 80% of polo players were born! Shane is a super talented designer that had worked for lots of outdoor companies in Europe before she ended up at Scott. The two represented different sides of the bicycle industry and teamed up to form DZR.
We are now headquarted in San Francisco. Fabio runs marketing, Shane runs design, Tim runs logistical stuff that i don’t understand, Noy runs customer service and I run sales. We are super small close group of people that work , travel, ride and hang out together.
C: What’s the brands ethos?
B: DZR is bringing style, comfort and performance to an otherwise bland section of the cycling industry. We are a rider driven company working hard to create products we are excited about and proud of.
C: Can you talk us through some of your product range?
B: As it stands now, our line is broken into 2 distinct categories; Urban and Task. The Urban is designed with maximum comfort and style in mind. The Task is the beginning of our plunge into the performance realm of cycling shoes.
The basic difference between the two is that the Urban shoes have what we call a Variable Flex Shank (VFS). This is designed to provide strength and stability in key pedal pushing areas, but still provide maximum channeled flexibility in order to make walking around as comfortable as possible. The Task shoe is designed with a co-moulded steel reinforced shank. These shoes provide an increased level of strength and rigidity for the those looking for great performance, whilst still staying true to our ethos.
C: What are your favourite DZR shoes?
B: My favorite shoes in our line right now are the Jetlag Nero and Tosca from the Urban line and the Mamba black in the Task line. When someone comes to me asking about a shoe for Polo I tell them the 2 best choices are either the Dice Tan(if you like low tops) or the Mamba Black (if you are looking for ankle protection).
C: I notice just as much attention goes into the packaging design you place your products into as the products themselves. Is offering a premium finish across all aspects of the brand important to DZR?
B: Fabio is Italian, which I consider to be synonymous with “premium finish”.
B: We’d be foolish not to. We are doing something that hasn’t really been done this way before. There is a learning curve, a development and trial period to everything we put out. We have some very talented people around the world riding our shoes. The amount of feedback we receive is great. I think the fact that people spend the time in order to let us know how they feel about our shoes means that we are on to something.
C: Does the feedback help develop new and improved product?
B: It definitely helps. Talking with riders is one of the best parts of my job. We take their feedback seriously and are always looking at implementing ideas.
C: What trends in fashion / cycling are you guys picking up on for future products?
B: We are looking at picking up on some natural accents (gum rubber) and combining it with a GI military style. Shits pretty hot in urban apparel right now.
C: I hear rumours (looking down at your feet) you guys have a specific polo shoe currently in testing, can you tell me a little bit more about them?
B: (I have no idea what you’re talking about ;-) ) I have travelled a lot for polo over time. No one wants to lug multiple pairs of shoes with them on a month long backpacking trip overseas. That’s why we are working towards putting something together that is going to be strong, protective and stylish. Something you can wear travelling, on the court and at the after party.
C: Has your polo connection (Beaver Boys – World Champions 2010) influenced getting these shoes designed – is it something you have pushed personally for?
B: I love where Bike Polo is; I love where Bike Polo is going. I think companies getting on board and improving equipment and increasing exposure for the sport is progress.
Along those lines, Bike Polo is how I ended up with a position at DZR. The relationship began when DZR reached out to the Beaver Boys with an opportunity to sponsor us. We were all so stoked. I remember bragging to all the kids at school where I worked at; “I’ve got a shoe deal”. They were like “whatever Mr. Brian, you’re still weak at Basketball”.
C: Does DZR sponsor any Bike Polo teams and tournaments?
C: Why is this important to the brand?
B: The Polo court is as strong as a testing lab as anything in cycling. If your product is breakable a polo player will break it. We want to support riders and teams who are putting in effort to progress the game. I love how polo players span the spectrum as well. We have train hopping dumpster divers and federal judges. That’s pretty damn impressive and it represents a huge reach.
C: What Polo tournaments are you sponsoring this year?
B: We have been supporting a lot of events this year. We have supported a lot of NAH qualifiers here and working on getting support for Minneapolis for the North American Championships.
C: Who’s on your flow program for 2013?
B: For 2013 I reached out to the Guardians and Cosmic. These are both teams that have been working hard for a number of years. They are solid dudes on and off the court. They are teams that are respected in the sport and have a solid presence in social media.
C: What’s next for DZR?
B: We are going to keep travelling the world, supporting riders who are working hard and improving our product line. We are growing but want to make sure our steps are small and calculated.
C: Cool. Thanks for your time Brian. Look forward to seeing you again on a court soon.
For more info on DZR brand, product and dealers, check their website here.