Purpose is a Singapore-grown brand of triathlon and cycling wear that has become increasingly popular in races around the region. It’s especially suited to hot and humid climates as there doesn’t seem to be another brand focused on that niche.
We caught up with Noor, the founder, to get the back-story on what Purpose is all about and its genesis. Of course we also ask him his top Ironman hacks.
Tell us about Purpose. What is it and why is it special? What is behind the name?
The goal for Purpose is to become a global cycling and triathlon brand from Singapore and at the same time, Southeast Asia.
My vision is for it to be known with a certain quality and function that is uniquely built for and from this region. Much like how Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, US, and even Australian brands are known in their own function and craft.
Purpose is special because we’re currently the only brand that’s doing this out of Singapore; for the global market with Southeast Asia being the focus. In many ways, we are first, yet at the same time we’re going into this blind and learning as we go along.
There are no regional or globally successful locally-born sportswear brands that we can learn from. Purpose is creating a culture where athletes can start believing that there will be a dominant name worldwide, in the sports apparel space, to come from this region.
By trailblazing our way in this new space, I hope that Purpose can inspire others to create and build their own brands as well. With enough groundswell, a dominant name will surface, and although I hope it to be Purpose, it does not have to be.
So the name Purpose, in that sense, stands for this call-to-action. The name Purpose started as a name to stand for the belief in oneself. Now the word stand for the collective belief in what we all can achieve.
Where do you get creative inspiration?
By standing for hours along the finish chutes of races. That’s where inspiration comes from. I’d see hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in their kits and I try to understand what makes each kit work or not work.
By seeing what the international brands are doing, and being worn here, I envision in my mind the gaps that are not addressed. That only we as locals can see and desire in our version of an outstanding kit.
These aren’t just functional. They can be aesthetic, too. For example, do their designs resonate with the person wearing it? Is it a reflection of their personality or is it just something that they have limited choice in?
In these designs, I ask myself what will resonate with us individually and culturally.
Why should I buy Purpose kit and not another brand?
It’s representative of how mature we are in this field. I believe that as we grow and become better, whether as a person or as a group, our vision of who our heroes are changes.
All of Asia and Southeast Asia acknowledge now that this new century is the Asian century. As a result, the maturing of Asia also means the maturing of Southeast Asia.
A purchase of Purpose is a purchase into the belief of the self – that we are growing up. We’re not only able to see this shift, we’re also able to put this belief into a local brand.
We believe that we can do it, and by supporting Purpose, this sets the path for success that others will follow.
Which markets are you in?
In this order size-wise: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Middle East, Vietnam, India, Philippines, Europe, US.
What’s your niche?
Cycling jerseys, bibshorts, triathlon suits and most importantly, tri and cycling kits that are specifically designed and made for the progressive, active Muslims and Muslimahs.
We’re the only brand in the world making this.
Why did you start Purpose?
I had given up on spending too much dollars on buying cycling kits that somehow was just not right for this weather.
That was when I realised that we needed a brand that is made for our weather and stands for our beliefs.
How did you start it?
Once I knew that creating jerseys and tri suits was what I wanted to do, the first thing I did was to source manufacturers who could help me do some prototypes and the first round of products.
I had found three that were based in Singapore. I chose Singapore because, although I know its going to be more expensive to produce, doing it locally, they were easy to get to and communicate with.
With the one I finally chose to work with, it was drawings and some initial set of samples. Whilst these were being produced, I took some time to think of the Purpose name, create the branding and the website for the company.
If you had one piece of advice to give yourself when you were just starting, what would it have been?
To listen to my own judgement and not be clouded by others’ opinions or personal preferences. It’s not easy to practice most times, because some advice from others does indeed contain hard facts, but more often than not these are opinions and one person’s view on things.
It takes careful thinking and reflection in order to be able to sort the valued ones from the noise.
I was watching Kona last year and saw that that Dan Plews, the winning age-grouper was wearing purpose. Can you tell us that story?
This story with Dr Dan Plews was a lucky moment, if I may say so. Through word of mouth, he got to know of Purpose and emailed me. The usual chat about custom design production happened to which he openly told me that he had spent a small fortune on making several other custom kits from Europe.
All of which did not pass his quality, lightness and performance test. So, he was wondering how Purpose can be any different.
These are the same promises that the kits before had given. In all, he took the chance anyway and ordered one custom design kit.
We got it done on time, he took it for his test race at Sunshine Coast – won that one I think, and then came back with a very positive review of the PRO performance kit which he wore. The next race after that was the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
What Ironman hacks can you give our readers?
1. Wear a kit you would be proud to be seen in. Ultimately a good race outcome stems from a person’s feeling great about themselves first.
2. Wear a comfortable kit. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing a brand, but different brands make their kits with different features, fabric and construction.
Choose one that’s suitable for you. We don’t sell Purpose for cold weather races, so similarly don’t wear a kit that’s not suitable for a hot, humid climate.
3. Try to remain comfortable in the bike leg. Stay cool. Things compound. The longer you take on the swim leg, the more energy that you have expended coming into the bike leg.
So the bike leg is when you can find yourself in a nice position to recover and maintain a fresh set of legs (and heart rate) going into the run. Staying cool matters as heat affects the heart rate.