In 2004, after representing Australia at multiple inline skating championships over a 15-year period, Paul McAlister decided to combine his engineering qualifications with his passion for racing and created Engage Athletic.
Engage Athletic is a Melbourne-based manufacturing company using world-class materials and manufacturing techniques to create elite, Australian-made sportswear.
“We travel the world sourcing innovative materials and manufacturing techniques and bring them back to our factory to create cutting-edge, elite, performance gear. When I founded Engage Athletic, I wanted to combine my first-hand experience as an athlete with my ability to design and manufacture the quality of custom sportswear required to win at the top level,” said Paul McAlister, Engage Athletic Director and Founder.
Australian inline speed skater Daniel Greig at World Roller Games in Barcelona wearing an
Engage Athletic Australian Made aerodynamic skinsuit. (photo credit: World Skate)
“We are very passionate about what we do, and firmly believe that the products and service we supply reflect who we are. Manufacturing in Australia allows us to have total control over the supply chain, so we can deliver over and above our customers’ expectations. From garment patterns to fabrics, manufacturing techniques and artwork, we can engineer and customise our products to suit exactly what the customer is looking for.”
Working directly with clubs, associations and schools, Engage Athletic is passionate about creating innovative custom sportswear for Australian athletes. They produce specialised gear for cycling, ice and inline speed skating, running, triathlon and performance sports including artistic and figure skating, gymnastics and dance.
“We take great pride in working with Australian sporting clubs. There’s nothing better than an Aussie team waving the Australian Made flag! We have partnered with Skate Australia since 2009, hitting an all-time high earlier this year at the World Roller Games in Barcelona. Australian inline speed skater Daniel Greig became the Men’s 100m Sprint World Champion with a World Record time of 9.439 seconds, wearing our ‘aerosuit’, a unique high-speed aerodynamic inline speed skating skin suit.
We recently developed a cut-resistant ice speed skating suit which we custom-made for a Melbourne club and are now crafting for the Australian national team. In fact, these Australian suits will first be worn by Australia’s best at the upcoming 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Our next ambition is to study top Australian athletes in wind tunnels to test and refine our garments to make them the fastest in the world. This could lead to our ultimate goal, supplying to the Australian national sporting teams at the summer and winter Olympics to give them a competitive edge in world-leading race gear,” said Mr McAlister.
Left to right: Founder & Owner Paul McAlister heat pressing panels. Sewing suits. Olympic Southern Flyers team members wearing suits (photo credit: Olympic Southern Flyers).
In 2018, Engage Athletic supplied the Australian Youth Olympic inline speed skating team with its gear for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Skate Australia National Speed Chair, Pauline Robertson, said “Engage Athletic’s attention to detail and customer service is wonderful. Being an ex-speed skater Paul knows what is required, and this shows in all his merchandise.
They have designed the Skate Australia, Worlds and Oceania suits for many years, as well as the 2018 Youth Olympic Team suits. Engage Athletic uses the best quality fabric, and their sublimation is faultless. They have delivered on time every time and are excellent to deal with - nothing is too much trouble.”
Investing locally in infrastructure, Engage Athletic is planning to move its own factory by the end of the year, moving to Broadmeadows in Melbourne, a huge milestone in the company’s expansion.
“We embrace quality in both our products and our personal, authentic customer service. It’s the reason we have a large loyal customer base. Our brand-new factory will allow us to provide them with a high-end ‘design studio experience’ including exploring our wide range of European aerodynamic fabrics, interactive one-on-one artwork design, experiencing the manufacturing process and even get on a bike to trial our innovative custom cycling kits.
The manufacturing process will also become much more streamlined in the new facilities; benefiting the business, our customers and our employees.”
Sewing the Skate Australia inline speed skating suits for Oceania Championships 2019
There are many benefits to buy locally produced garments. Australian-made products are manufactured to Australia’s high standards and have positive flow-on effects for the local community and environment.
“Our industry has been heavily influenced by increasingly easy online access to overseas manufacturers and an influx of imports into Australia. We are one of only a handful of similar companies manufacturing our products 100% in-house, and the only ones making highly technical, complex garments such as ice speed skating suits.
There are a lot of businesses promoting ‘Australian’ products which are designed in Australia for the Australian market… but manufactured overseas. The Australian Made logo and campaign help the market differentiate fact from fiction and to purchase ‘true blue’ Australian Made.”
As Australia's most trusted, recognised and widely used country of origin symbol, the Australian Made logo is underpinned by a third-party accreditation system which ensures products that carry the logo are certified as ‘authentically Australian'.
“We rely on the Australian Made logo to clearly communicate to current and potential customers that we proudly manufacture all our products locally, which is one of our unique selling points. When they buy products from Engage Athletic, they are supporting an Australian family, local jobs and the local economy. They’re also able to speak directly to the manufacturer to produce customised, high-quality garments that will surpass their expectations,” said Mr McAlister.
“There is also a strong perception in overseas markets that Australian Made represents quality, and this will be increasingly important to us as our brand grows. We already export in small volumes, but we are receiving more and more interest internationally for our innovative race suits.”
Photo of Engage Athletic owners Jenna and Paul McAlister
with their children, Zoe and Liam.
A proud licensee of the Australian Made Campaign, Mr McAlister explained the importance of buying Australian Made products.
“It’s easy to take an impersonal view when making purchasing decisions, choosing a low price or a global brand. However, when we look to our own lives, we all have a network of family and friends who work hard to earn a living. They say there are six degrees of separation, and buying Australian Made is helping those family and friends, as well as the broader economy by keeping the dollars in our own pockets.
Australians will increasingly return to buying Australian-made products for a variety of social and economic reasons, and they want it to be clear that the products they are buying are authentically Australian. The Australian Made logo communicates that. It is a key element in our marketing and brand strategy.”
You can find out more about Engage Athletic’s Australian Made products here.