STORY OF THE SUIT AND PEOPLE THAT REVOLUTIONIZED FLYING
Like many good things, it all started over a cup of coffee.
The year was 2015 and the founder of DEEM Flywear Grzegorz Kowalik was chilling at his apartment upstairs from the workshop with two experienced flyers Ty Baird and Mason Corby. They were going through some fabric samples as the Aussies wanted to talk about their pretty outrageous idea to develop a completely new kind of flying suit.
Ty and Mason had already been doing some test flights with wetsuits and their vision was to build a figure-hugging flying suit from a fully breathable fabric. ”At first I was pretty shocked, it was something completely different.”, Grzegorz laughs. But the guys insisted they should just give it a go and see what happens.
”Mason and Ty, they would never say no you know. Even if they had one of the stupidest ideas. This was also my biggest lesson from Ty. You always say yes, you never know how everything will turn out.”
When trying to build something completely new from scratch, it’s quite likely it doesn’t go exactly as planned. The process of trial and error became quite familiar for the DEEM team throughout the process from picking the right fabric to figuring out the cuts. It took time for example just to find out what would be the right amount of tightness.
“We had to start from the beginning. We just tried things and would see how it goes.”
At the same time, Kowalik and his team decided to start experimenting with printing the fabric as they figured that the traditional embroidering would not work with stretchy new suit material as it would just make it stiffer. And even if the countless test flights, prototype changes, mistakes and even misunderstandings were not enough, it was hard to bypass the outsider’s loud opinions that the fully elastic suit was just way too weird.
The early DNA Project suit actually faced so much criticism just by the looks of it, that plan A was just to build a few suits for the DEEM athletes. It felt unlikely that anyone else would ever want to fly it or buy it
“People don’t like changes. I tried to not think about it and just do my job and make the suit as good as possible.”
How little did they know about what the future would bring. And that the majority of people would actually change their opinion just a couple years later. It all started to escalate after the first official FAI World Indoor Skydiving Championships held in Prague in 2015. The wider audience and all the athletes finally saw the new suit in action.
Inka Tiitto won gold in Solo Freestyle and Maja Kuczynska in Junior Freestyle wearing carefully designed & printed DEEM ”pyjamas”.
Looking back at it now, one might see it as a start of a completely new flying era. After all, the DEEM team did not just end up building a completely new type of elastic suit, but they were also the first ones in the market who started printing them and that was a game-changer too. After the competition it felt like suddenly everyone wanted to fly in the DNA Project suit. And that was where the work really just got started!
“Because of the new elastic fabric also the stitching had to be completely different and we actually needed to redesign the whole production line”, Kowalik explains.
But it was way worth it. Over time the DNA suits have proven to be the perfectly comfortable yet powerful tool for all kinds of flying needs. They are currently being used by a bunch of the top flyers of our time, like Maja Kuczynska, Rafael Schwaiger, Fabian Ramseyer, Filip Crnjakovic, Inka Tiitto, Martin Dedek and Kyra Poh, just to mention a few.
The DNA NG and other models carry the legacy of the groundbreaking work that was done with the DNA Project. The material that was finally picked out for the “pyjama” turned out to be just ideal for flying: above all strong and versatile. After the DNA Project it has been used to create other suits & items like SKYleggins, SWOOP pants and even first-timer suits! Nowadays also the beginner pro flyers are using these elastic suits to enhance their learning. Looks like there’s no going back from DNA line for DEEM Flywear.
DNA Project did not only change the industry and push the other suit manufacturers to change their models, but it has definitely also changed the sport. Or what would you say about a suit that can give you full freedom of movement, maximize learning by using a fabric that lets you feel the wind on your whole body and at the same time have the necessary power to fly fast and efficient. However, Kowalik says, it’s now time to let the DNA Project go down in history and concentrate on the new cuts and models.
“It was the first suit, first DNA. We started in 2015 before the Prague competition and now it’s 2022. So, it’s already 7 years old cut and it’s time to go forward.”
What is the next chapter going to be?
“We are designing new suits with Filip, Rafa and Maja. The fabric stays and we are focusing on figuring out how to make the suit fit perfectly using cuts depending on your bodytype.”