Date: 14 Apr 2018
Ian Elliot, Nigel Broughton and the start of an epic journey
It all started with two surfers, Ian Elliot and Nigel Broughton, friends from university, with a shared love of chasing waves, riding fresh powder, or biking headlong down a mountainside. Life was about getting out there, searching for the next adrenalin rush, travelling the world and enjoying every minute.
Whilst being drilled by heavy waves somewhere off South Africa, they hit upon a concept that would win the recognition of action sports fans far and wide— an unbreakable hook and loop watch strap designed to withstand the rigours of the ocean.
Heading back to local shores, the pair began creating prototypes and soon the first hook and loop watch strap was ready to go. With its rugged, functional nature and bright fluro colours, it quickly caught on among the like-minded action sports community and the Animal brand was born.
The original ‘social network'
Thanks to its ‘unbreakable’ design and distinctive claw logo, orders were soon rolling in for the watch strap. Needing a little more space than the back bedroom, it was time to officially set up shop and so the first Animal HQ was opened in a modest little room in Poole. As business picked up, Ian and Nigel were able to call on the original ‘social network’ in the local action sports community for support with marketing and sales, or simply packing up orders.
“We were a group of windsurfing friends in Poole, working in the attic of the local windsurfing shop. We grew from there to an international brand. The qualities we shared growing together are like childhood memories.“
Animal’s first ever rider.
Making time for adventure
The move from watch straps to watches made perfect sense so the design and research process began to create a timepiece that offered flawless functionality, combined with rugged durability.
“The very first Animal watch was the W001 Glow.”
1994/5 was the year Animal took to the mountains—heading downhill at crazy speeds.
Steve Kitchin set up the sponsorship of their first local downhill MTB team and with the likes of Steve Geall, Robin Kitchin and Tim Ponting (1996) it wasn’t long before the team went on to dominate the UK circuit.
A promising young grom called Alan Stokes joined the team...
Little did we know that 3 British Championship titles and 23 years later the relationship would still be going strong!
“Animal’s commitment and confidence in me has been critical to my progression as a surfer.”
From a single product, Animal was now ready to introduce a dedicated men’s apparel collection. Obviously it was totally 90s and seriously rad!
The first Animal watch specifically designed for women went into production.
“Animal’s hook and loop watch straps and bright faced timepieces were all the rage.”
1997 was the year Team Animal went big, at the heart of the action across a growing range of sports from downhill MTB, motocross and surf, to wakeboarding, snowboarding and BMX.
Early Animal legends included the likes of: Timo Mullen, Tim Ponting, Guy Cribb, Alan Stokes, Stefan Gimpl, Robin Kitchin, Russell Winter, Sunny Garcia, Greg Minnaar, Shea Lopez...
1997 saw Team Animal enter their first world cup race.
"We turned up looking factory in our awesome team van that Steve Kitchin (Animal team manager) had sorted out. We walked the track and just couldn’t believe how rocky and technical it was!
We were one of the first teams to have the new Mr T triple clamp forks (I can still remember sprinting into a pile of bricks to test them out to see how flexy they were, they weren’t!!)”
Great partnerships were established, including the Animal Giant Downhill Racing Team, with the additional power of Cadbury’s boost and Playstation! The Animal truck became a home from home for the team.
The formation of one of Animal’s most epic teams–Animal Orange. Featuring the likes of Glyn O’Brien, Tim Ponting, Andy Bostock, Robin Kitchin, Steve Geall, Adele Coxon, and Greg Minnaar, the team became one of the most iconic on the downhill scene.
Orange developed the Patriot bike for the team, working closely with the riders to engineer the optimum design.
Animal Orange takes over the MTB scene
“The Patriot is where it all began, from the Animal Orange days through to Global Racing, the bike that influenced a whole generation of riders. The Patriot is for the mega pinner, the rider needing something different for how they hit the trails.”
Animal gets technical
Whilst Team Animal was expanding, the Animal range was doing likewise. Women’s, kids’ and technical collections were introduced in ‘99.