A Chat with RYU Mastermind Marcello Leone

Recently, Park Royal welcomed RYU (#RespectYourUniverse) to our roster of amazing retailers.

As innovators in the athletic community, we wanted to share with you who RYU is, and how they envision changing the platform of retail in the fitness industry.

Who better to ask than the mastermind behind the brand, Marcello Leone. Have a read below to find out everything you need to know about RYU and Mr. Leone himself.

Name

Marcello Leone. 

Day Job

President and CEO of Respect Your Universe. 

HIIT or lifting? 

HIIT.

Indoor solo or outdoor group workouts?

Outdoor group led by our amazing RYU connectors.

Toronto or LA? (we hear you have plans to open in both cities):

New York (we’re opening there soon.) 

Ocean or Mountains?

Mountains.

Best thing about Vancouver? 

The diversity.

What sets you apart from other retail stores? 
We don’t think of ourselves as a store, but as a movement. Our mission is to awaken one million athletes around the globe. We genuinely believe you are tougher than you think, more beautiful than you know, more courageous than you feel and more valuable than you have ever been told. And through this “awakening”, you will make a difference in the world in ways you have not yet begun to realize. 

What’s in the name Respect Your Universe? How was this name chosen? 

Respect Your Universe is not only the name of our brand, it’s the directive behind everything we do and every decision we make. We define “respect” as our unwaveringly belief in human potential (your potential). We genuinely believe in you and your ability to achieve your dreams. How do we do that? By facilitating human performance. Our objective at RYU is to inspire, support and empower people to take ownership of their own breakthroughs in performance. We respect people by believing in them. Our values direct us to respect yourself, respect others and respect your universe.

Who is the RYU customer? 
Our customers are athletes. Even though many of them don’t call themselves that. They use terms to describe themselves like active and athletic, but don’t see themselves as legitimate “athletes” because of the misconception that they don’t compete. We see them differently. It does not matter if they workout or train 7 days a week or just remain active and healthy by walking their dog daily. Everyone’s body was built to be athletic if they desire. Our community of athletes are urban, love style, demand innovation and appreciate quality and performance.

How would you classify the clothing of RYU?
RYU is tailored innovation for the urban athlete. Our gear features proprietary TriLayr™ innovation built into every waistband. Comprised of an internal compression grid that’s layered for 360 core support, it will invisibly smooth and streamline your silhouette. Best of all they stay put when you put them on. No more readjusting or tugging up your pants or tights after every set, block or pose. We use durable fabrics to withstand abrasion, diamond gussets to expand range of movement and 30% Lycra to provide endless stretch. We also know that maintaining optimal body temperature is a key factor in higher performance. That’s why we include engineered mesh zones knit with seamless technology that creates better airflow. We use cross section nylon and polyester yarns to increase the surface area so sweat can wick and evaporate faster and treat them with Polygiene® to permanently control odor.

What kind of environment can a customer expect walking into an RYU store?

It’s not as much the environment as it is the experience.  People are treated with respect from the moment they walk through the door. We don’t employ sales people to flog clothing. Instead, we have Retail Connectors who are expected to connect athletes with whatever tool that will help them achieve their goals. That could be introducing them to a particular trainer or coach. It might be setting them up with resources to help them dial in a nutrition plan. Or it might be educating them on how our gear has been specifically engineered to elevate their performance. 

How do you find your community leaders? 

We are fortunate that in most cases they find us. Our story has inspired elite athletes, trainers and competitors from across North America to get in touch with us. We sit down with them, listen to their story, share more of ours, and if there is a fit, we shake hands. They, and our staff, are committed to growing as an athlete, a person and as a team player.

How do these community leaders help shape your business?
They live the lifestyle of the multi-discipline athlete. They also embody the values of RYU as leaders dedicated to the empowerment and achievement of others. They give us valuable, objective feedback on our product design and our initiatives and are our “ear to the ground” so to speak within our different communities, helping us custom tailor our products, programs and offerings. They are our star front line teammates

Why West Vancouver? What initially excited you about this community?

West Vancouver has been voted best place to live in Canada. And Canada has been recognized as the best country in the world to live. So in essence, we now have a retail presence in a community that considered the best place in the world to live. What could be more exciting than that? Home of the Grind, an hour from where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held, and the abundance of hiking and mountain bike trails makes this a very special place for active, engaged people who like to push their limits and really see what they can achieve.

What makes the Park Royal store unique to your other locations?

We believe physical spaces should be social spaces, creating strong connections to consumers, athletes, and the neighbourhoods in which stores are located. That’s why we tailor each store to fit naturally into each of the communities in which they live. Our 3,967 square foot Park Royal retail space includes RYU’s apparel for men and women, as well as accessories and an extensive assortment of multi-use bags. The store was designed by architect Tony Robins, with the same industrial-modern aesthetic look as RYU's award winning flagship store in Kitsilano.

(Photo: RYU Park Royal.)

Tell us about the clothing. Where is it designed?

Everything is designed locally at our design offices in Vancouver and at our BETA 37.5 design lab in Squamish. BETA 37.5 thought processes brings real user designer interface into two ideal locations. We began by recruiting some of the best designers and product engineers in the world and put them with the best technology, and allowed them to work independently and hands-on in a way that is completely different than anywhere else.

It’s a common practice in fashion today for designers to develop illustrations and send them overseas where they are turned into something that’s a representation of the original idea. RYU is different. Instead of sending sketches or computer drawings to the factories, our design team physically builds actual prototypes in-house  - a lost art in the apparel industry. Rather than focusing on individual hero pieces, the design labs are tasked with creating entire collections that have been strategically curated to solve problems for athletes they didn’t know they had.

What is your dream project?
This is it. I’ve been involved in a number of successful businesses and ventures over the course of my life. But RYU is my passion. Our team is out to leave a legacy and really make a difference. Respect your universe is needed, really needed right now, so we are out to do our part.

Chosen superpower?

Time traveler. So I can see how this all turns out!

(RYU PARK ROYAL)