As the the Tokyo Olympic Games draw near, there is an innovative Buffalo clothing gear company that is ramping up its production. The company that I’m referring to, Oro Sports, was co-founded by Luanne DiBernardo and her brother Van DiBernardo, who was a designer at DKNY. I recently learned that the DiBernardo’s had successfully made significant headway with one of their “cooling” products, which is being worn by members of the US Sailing Team (USST).
What makes Oro Sports so different is that the clothing is designed to regulate a body’s heat. The idea came about due to a chronic condition that Van was diagnosed with, which led the brother and sister team to creating the innovating high-impact cooling gear. Little did they know at the time that the equipment would one day help athletes to regulate their body temperatures when competing in hot climates.
“Overheating occurs in the brain,” said DiBernardo. “Once overheated, the brain can no longer send signals for muscle movement. This is the basis of muscle fatigue, and the beginning of more serious heat injuries. Our products will help US Sailing Team athletes stay cool both before and after racing in hot climates, and in doing so, help them win races.”
I asked DiBernardo about the formations of the company, which has morphed over the years.
“We started prototyping the gear in 2009,” Luanne DiBernardo explained. “In 2013 we launched Coolture, which was more of a medical product. We decided to close that business in 2019 because the product was not reimbursable in the medical industry. We felt that it was time to reorganize and reconfigure the product for the athletic market.”
DiBernardo believes that “marginal gains start with thermoregulation.” That’s the core sentiment that will help the members of the US Sailing Team to keep cool under intense pressure at the Olympics this summer.
“Once you understand that 75% of your body’s total energy is devoted to regulating body temperature, the benefits to the athlete of precooling and recovery cooling should come as no surprise,” said DiBernardo.
As the sailing team trains, and eventually races in Enoshima, Japan, temperatures are expected to be the hottest on record. As Global Warming trends continue, there will be a need for the patented Pre-Cooling and Recovery Cooling technologies that are being developed and produced by Oro Sports (the company licenses the technology).
“We are always looking for new ways to keep our athletes healthy, safe and performing at their best,” said Paul Cayard, Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “We are grateful to have the support of Oro Sports as we head into a hot summer in Japan and beyond, and to benefit from their innovative products.”
“In partnership with the USST, we will be releasing a LTD Edition USST cooling vest, with a percentage of each sale going towards “the movement” (in their words), focusing on youth sailing.
DiBernardo is currently working on a patent with University at Buffalo to create a material that is flexible when frozen.
DiBernardo is beyond excited to see members of the US Sailing Team fashionably sporting her company’s vests in Japan, and feels that this is a significant boost that will help to launch the company in ways that we can only imagine at this point in time.
“When the US sailors were practicing drills in Biscayne Bay, the Argentine sailing crew saw the vests,” DiBernardo told me. “Three of the team members asked about the vests and placed orders – I think that’s how this is going to go at the Olympics. It’s been a long time coming, but this is going to be the game changer.”
At this stage in the game, the gear is being worn by cyclists, construction workers, professional football players, golfers, and marathon runners. Protecting these workers and athletes from heat-related ailments makes a lot of sense. Similar to how the proper supports alleviate problematic back issues, Oro Sports’ thermoregulation gear can save the day for anyone who is susceptible to overheating in inclement environments.
For more information, visit www.orosportsusa.com.
Lead image: Steph Roble & Maggie Shea try out Oro Sport vests after practice in Miami, Florida | Photos by Allison Chenard, USST