Who are we?
Founded in 1990, De Soto Sport (De Soto Clothing Company, Inc.) has established itself as one of the most visible brands of apparel at any triathlon around the world. Founded by former pro triathlete, Emilio De Soto II, the San Diego-based company leverages experience dating back to 1980 in international triathlon and endurance sports competition into every product it creates.
De Soto makes technical garments for men and women designed with comfort and style, most of which can be used for swimming, biking, and running, eliminating the need to change.
With over 50 year of experience in camping, hiking, back-country mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing, trail running and yoga, the De Soto Collection also offers a complete line of workout apparel, accessories, cold climate base layers, and gear all of which transcend well into many other sports and exercise.
The company has been managed by Emilio and his wife, Tracy, since 2009. Both left endurance sports competition to dedicate their time to raising their three boys who are on swim team and have started competing in mulitsport events.
More than 98% of all De Soto products are made here in the USA. De Soto remains a small company with energetic, enthusiastic and friendly employees. Some are triathletes, some are not. The work environment is diverse, creative, constructive, active, and happy. Seven different ethnicities/nationalities are represented in a team of fewer than 20 people. Our entire staff has been with us for the past 7 to 31 years, and we have an equal number of male and female.
De Soto has a product line of approximately 75 different products designed with original and unique features including innovative fit, functionality, fabric, colors, and manufacturing technology. De Soto is never at a loss of ideas, only a lack of time to execute all of them. This makes for exciting times at this company.
Throughout the 1990s the majority of products designed by De Soto have become the original concept and basis for the products developed by competitors today. From the transition pack, to the trisuit and tri shorts, to tri jerseys with zippers, and run shorts with pockets...even the mesh running cap, were developed first by De Soto. De Soto is responsible for the innovation of more product categories in triathlon soft goods than any other brand.
In 2000, De Soto introduced the T1 Wetsuit, a revolutionary two-piece wetsuit designed not only to keep you warm in cold water, but also to correct your body position making swimming more efficient and faster. The two-piece concept allows a customer to buy a separate top and bottom to optimize proper fit. It also offers a modular method of purchasing pieces to either accommodate for varying water temperatures or simply to replace or upgrade to a newer model without having to buy a completely new wetsuit. Retailers who sell the T1 Wetsuit enjoy the convenience of fitting a wider range of body types without needing to commit to as much inventory as is necessary with one-piece wetsuits. The popularity of the T1 has grown progressively and is commonly referred to as the MAC of wetsuits in a PC world of one-piece wetsuits. De Soto remains the only company making a production two-piece wetsuit. The innovations continue to flow as new products and product improvements are added to the T1 Wetsuit line.
In 2002, the company moved to its current location, a warehouse space built in 1974. It was remodeled on the inside with vibrant colors, soft lighting, fresh ocean breezes from sliding glass doors (instead of air conditioning), and a south facing balcony to enjoy the mild year-round San Diego climate.
In 2004, De Soto innovated Skin Cooler™ fiber and fabric. This became the first fabric designed by the company for use exclusively by the company. Skin Cooler ™ was also the first fabric to offer cooling ability when wet to lower the skin surface temperature by as much as 9 degrees F (5 degrees C). This will become commonplace within De Soto Sport as plans are to design all its own fabrics by 2008.
In 2006, the De Soto Custom Team Apparel Program was announced. De Soto now offers a collection of their most popular garments customized with designs and graphics for teams as well as events. Every year there are hundreds of races, clubs, private, corporate, and university teams purchasing apparel with their unique graphics.
In 2007, Inside Triathlon Magazine (August) recognized Emilio as one of the top three most influential innovators in the sport. Included among this short prestigious list were Dan Empfield (formerly of QR, and now of slowtwitch.com) and Steve Hed (Hed Cycling Wheels).
In 2011, Apparel Magazine (May) chose De Soto as one of the most innovative apparel companies for De Soto's groundbreaking on-demand rollout of apparel products. Rather than introducing products by the season, De Soto has the capacity to innovate, design, manufacture, and bring a product to market as soon as it is ready. This helps to lower the strain on retailers who are concerned with steep cycles of inventory and cash turnover. De Soto was also recognized for the development of slimming garments that allow even the most novice triathletes to look lean and be aerodynamic.
In 2015, De Soto Sport celebrated twenty five consecutive years, all under the same ownership. To celebrate and remain true to the sport, Emilio and Tracy got on the road for a "Back to Our Roots" Tour. The first stop was Tri-Palooza at Mission Bay, the birthplace of triathlon. In May, the dynamic duo with their three little boys attended Wildflower Triathlon to converse with triathletes - both in terms of information and casually. Many triathletes stopped by to say hello. The road trip continued to Kona in October where there was more great camaraderie.
2015: De Soto sells Espresso trademark to Michael Phelps’ licensee, Aqua Lung.
In 2016, De Soto expanded the in-house workforce to both control the quality. This is where De Soto constantly strives to tower above others and also to provide jobs to a diverse group of employees and their families. De Soto also continued to expand its vivid prints and colors as it has expanded its manufacturing equipment to include state of the art sublimation and digital cutting/plotting machinery.
In 2017, De Soto, in keeping innovation at the forefront, introduced it's series of trisuits with a "fli" for men, in our "Flisuit" and a "Sneak-a-Poo" Femme trisuit. Being the first in the market to provide a trisuit where an athlete could relieve themselves easily is a very real problem and finding a solution was deeply satisfying to De Soto. Both were well received and continue to be the only bathroom-friendly trisuits on the market.
On March 24, 2020, under the mandate by the Governor of California to halt all non-essential business activity due to Covid 19, Emilio and Tracy sent their employees home, not knowing when they would open their doors again for business. In the midst of crisis, the they wanted to help their employees, but also the country, on a larger scale. The staff were quickly back at work producing protective face masks and headwear. De Soto Sport makes durable, washable, and reusable products out of highly technical fabrics. While the face masks are new, De Soto Sport is not new to making protective gear… however, previously it was limited to the protection of the body from sun, heat, cold, and wind. The masks kept the company open and staffed through the entire pandemic while donating tens of thousands of masks to those in need.
The ability to pivot to making masks during Covid was truly a moment where we created our own luck; our preparation met an opportunity. We were able to keep our staff employed, while providing a product to help keep people safe.
In December 2020, De Soto took its social and environmental responsibility to the next level by installing a photovoltaic solar panel system to produce electricity both for its own use and to contribute to the San Diego power grid.
De Soto is more than just a triathlon product manufacturer. The company is very involved with growing the sport through partnerships with athletes, coaches, clubs, universities, as well as with select non-profit organizations. In 2011, De Soto raised and donated over $30,000 to the victims of the disaster in Japan. In December of 2016, De Soto donated over $25,000 to Challenged Athlete Foundation. In 2017, De Soto organized a shoe drive for the victims of the United States hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Houston and Florida, respectively. Internationally, in 2017, De Soto chose to focus on the human rights crisis in Syria and for every order placed on #givingtuesday donated to the American Syrian Medical Association who is on the front lines, innovating and building underground hospitals to provide medical care to Syrians. This was in addition to the owners donating their own personal funds to the cause as well.
De Soto customers are comprised of a small, sophisticated group of people who are athletic, professionally driven and put a big emphasis on value and quality. They do their research before buying any product, and form emotional relationships with the products they use, thus brand loyalty is strong toward a company like De Soto. They play as hard as they work, and they enjoy all the gifts this wonderful earth has to offer.
The success of this Company is evident in the satisfaction and brand loyalty by its customers. De Soto is known around the world for its ability to respond to the needs of their customers quickly and with great care and precision. De Soto's mission is to offer the best product with the best possible customer service in any market.
In business, the word "innovation" is often synonymous, not just with a product, but with the output of the process. In other words, just coming up with a new product does not make it innovative. It may be a great invention; something that never existed before, but if invention is the conversion of money into ideas, then innovation is the conversion of those ideas into money. In this current financial climate, innovation is a driving force of the economy, given that it leads to new products, new product categories, and increased productivity.
De Soto Sport Triathlon Company wants to do its part in driving the economy and of course, we all need to make money, but if you have ever had any interaction with us, you have learned and come to know we do not want your money…we want your soul!