24 July 2019

The Evolution of Driology

by Steve Symons

There comes a time when we need a new perspective. Life is about choices. We make them constantly.

When choices become limited we become frustrated. We get bored and shout for alternatives.

A good alternative must offer something different, something more. But frustratingly, good alternative choices do not often appear. The journey to produce them, to make them tangible, can be drawn out and costly, requiring considerable effort and dedication.   

If or when an alternative does present itself, it must be both excellent and meaningfully different. It must hold genuine reasons for us to change our thinking, to engage with something new, to embrace something unfamiliar. Making the choice to trust something new is a big step, a leap of faith.

A new, alternative offering must be an outstanding product in order to gain trust and prevail. Nobody wants to trade down or step sideways for something similar or even inferior.

I have always been a technical apparel follower and had always pondered why mountain wear was constructed in advanced performance materials and insulations in comparison to those used in fishing clothing. The very best materials, insulations and shells were just not utilised in fishing apparel. I also noted that the construction quality of mountain wear was a lot higher than that of fishing wear and the technical aesthetics always superior. These fabrics, insulations and technical designs could and should - surely - be applied to fishing clothing.

At this point I just wanted to “have a go” at making a product of quality, something I could share with bankside friends. Designing and prototyping a jacket we wanted to wear took a while, over 18 months in fact, but eventually I proudly had my first bespoke prototype at the river. It was OK for a first attempt, but I was surprised by the positive feedback I received about this jacket, even though it was far from the finished article!

It’s amazing how positivity from others can inspire you to take a new path. Maybe I could take this further than the banks of the Tamar? Others may want this jacket on their rivers? I needed to find out for sure, so I engaged with fly fishing communities across Europe, researching in-depth the design and function requirements they felt were essential. It soon became clear from the feedback that these dedicated fly fishermen were ready for an alternative that offered quality. There was a real need for layering systems of genuine performance, design and function for the fly fishing community.

Therefore, I made the decision to do something about it, to produce pieces which make a difference and have a purpose. I knew the pieces had to be exceptional and, in honesty, I did not want to invest my time, or savings, into something average. I started researching fabrics and manufacturers, ultimately designing and prototyping garments we all wanted to wear, garments we all needed to wear. As the concepts evolved, I began gaining support from world renowned suppliers, the very suppliers of the materials I trusted and admired in mountain wear.

Wrongly I had once presumed you just purchased these fabrics to make clothing! But no, there are stringent applications processes to follow. If your application is considered you are invited to give a detailed design and brand concept presentation. World leading suppliers spend millions on developing the best fabrics and insulations and they protect their investment by selective partnering with brands who work to exacting standards. As an example, one of our partners had 57 license applications across Europe in that given year, for which they would grant three licenses to the most innovative and interesting brands. Driology was one of the licensed three.

From a business perspective we make our apparel in a completely different way than others. We design and manufacture to make the best garments we possibly can, never budgeting down to enter into mass-production and distribution scenarios. Our designs do not involve a costing spreadsheet which ultimately determines the overall product quality. Cutting corners to hit a price point for mass-production does not give the consumer the product quality they might have had. I used to be asked by our developing partner “what is your target” and I always said, “to make the best garment we can,” not even realising they were asking about price! They no longer ask this question.

I am a passionate fly fisherman. I appreciate quality and get great enjoyment at the river when using quality tackle.Thankfully we have an abundance of such tackle available to us nowadays. This is great as it offers the genuine alternatives we want as anglers. We invest so much of our time and hard earned money into the sport I think it is so important to have these choices. For me though, it has never been, and never will be, about producing rods, reels and lines. My focus is to make "the" alternative fly fishing apparel that performs, that looks great and is perfectly constructed.

All the above has created Driology, the only dedicated fly fishing apparel design and manufacturer in Europe. We - and I say we, as I could not do this without my team of experts and friends assisting me - have evolved those initial thoughts and ideas to the point of introducing our first collection of clothing to the fly fishing world, a collection unsurpassed in levels of performance, functionality, construction, aesthetic and feel.

Is Driology the new perspective? It’s for you to choose.

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