30 years of Animal

Discover the Animal story from the beginning, our riders, inspiration and most memorable moments

5 May


Ian Elliot, Nigel Broughton and the start of an epic journey

It all started with two surfers, Ian Elliot and Nigel Broughton, friends from university, with a shared love of chasing waves, riding fresh powder, or biking headlong down a mountainside. Life was about getting out there, searching for the next adrenalin rush, travelling the world and enjoying every minute.

Whilst being drilled by heavy waves somewhere off South Africa, they hit upon a concept that would win the recognition of action sports fans far and wide— an unbreakable hook and loop watch strap designed to withstand the rigours of the ocean.

Heading back to local shores, the pair began creating prototypes and soon the first hook and loop watch strap was ready to go. With its rugged, functional nature and bright fluro colours, it quickly caught on among the like-minded action sports community and the Animal brand was born.

Animal retro watch straps

Animal old school claw logo


The original ‘social network'

Thanks to its ‘unbreakable’ design and distinctive claw logo, orders were soon rolling in for the watch strap. Needing a little more space than the back bedroom, it was time to officially set up shop and so the first Animal HQ was opened in a modest little room in Poole. As business picked up, Ian and Nigel were able to call on the original ‘social network’ in the local action sports community for support with marketing and sales, or simply packing up orders.

Pro windsurfer Guy Cribb in 2003

“We were a group of windsurfing friends in Poole, working in the attic of the local windsurfing shop. We grew from there to an international brand. The qualities we shared growing together are like childhood memories.“

Guy Cribb,
Animal’s first ever rider.

1998 Animal watch

Animal Glow watch from 1993


Making time for adventure

The move from watch straps to watches made perfect sense so the design and research process began to create a timepiece that offered flawless functionality, combined with rugged durability.

“The very first Animal watch was the W001 Glow.”

Tim Ponting from the Animal Giant MTB team in 1996

1994/5 was the year Animal took to the mountains—heading downhill at crazy speeds.

Steve Kitchin set up the sponsorship of their first local downhill MTB team and with the likes of Steve Geall, Robin Kitchin and Tim Ponting (1996) it wasn’t long before the team went on to dominate the UK circuit.


Alan Stokes joins the Animal team in 1994

A promising young grom called Alan Stokes joined the team...

Little did we know that 3 British Championship titles and 23 years later the relationship would still be going strong!

“Animal’s commitment and confidence in me has been critical to my progression as a surfer.”

Alan Stokes

The Animal Giant MTB team in their new Animal gear at our nearby beach huts

Animal advert in 1996


Branching out

From a single product, Animal was now ready to introduce a dedicated men’s apparel collection. Obviously it was totally 90s and seriously rad!

The first Animal watch specifically designed for women went into production.

“Animal’s hook and loop watch straps and bright faced timepieces were all the rage.”


The Animal Giant MTB team checking the action from the top of the team truck


Team Animal

1997 was the year Team Animal went big, at the heart of the action across a growing range of sports from downhill MTB, motocross and surf, to wakeboarding, snowboarding and BMX.

Early Animal legends included the likes of: Timo Mullen, Tim Ponting, Guy Cribb, Alan Stokes, Stefan Gimpl, Robin Kitchin, Russell Winter, Sunny Garcia, Greg Minnaar, Shea Lopez...


Tim Ponting, Animal Giant team member, sponsored by Playstation

1997 saw Team Animal enter their first world cup race.

"We turned up looking factory in our awesome team van that Steve Kitchin (Animal team manager) had sorted out. We walked the track and just couldn’t believe how rocky and technical it was!

We were one of the first teams to have the new Mr T triple clamp forks (I can still remember sprinting into a pile of bricks to test them out to see how flexy they were, they weren’t!!)”

Tim Ponting

The Animal Giant kit, sponsored by Cadbury's Boost and Playstation

Great partnerships were established, including the Animal Giant Downhill Racing Team, with the additional power of Cadbury’s boost and Playstation! The Animal truck became a home from home for the team.

The Animal Orange truck, the team's home away from home


Animal Orange

The formation of one of Animal’s most epic teams–Animal Orange. Featuring the likes of Glyn O’Brien, Tim Ponting, Andy Bostock, Robin Kitchin, Steve Geall, Adele Coxon, and Greg Minnaar, the team became one of the most iconic on the downhill scene.

Orange developed the Patriot bike for the team, working closely with the riders to engineer the optimum design.


Animal Orange takes over the MTB scene

“The Patriot is where it all began, from the Animal Orange days through to Global Racing, the bike that influenced a whole generation of riders. The Patriot is for the mega pinner, the rider needing something different for how they hit the trails.”

Orange Bikes

Animal gets technical

Whilst Team Animal was expanding, the Animal range was doing likewise. Women’s, kids’ and technical collections were introduced in ‘99.

Animal gets technical

Animal launches women's and kids' ranges

Animal opens its first store in Carnaby street


Always growing

In 2001 Animal hit the high street. Opening our first store in London’s Carnaby Street.

Today we have 35 stores in the UK and are represented across 20 different countries internationally.

Pro snowboarder Johno Verity signs with Animal


Pro snowboarder Johno Verity signs with Animal.

"Animal sponsorship enabled me to travel and focus on my riding, I learnt to surf because of this help too!"

Johno Verity

Animal Bike Tour launches


The Animal Bike Tour

2002, Martyn Ashton signs with Animal

Martyn Ashton signs and the Animal Bike Tour is created. A whole new generation of young riders are inspired by the tour, with Martyn pushing the crew to new heights year on year.

“I was chatting with a young rider at one of the Animal Bike Tour shows a few weeks back. We had a great time talking about different lines to ride and afterwards I was as buzzed about riding as he was.”

Martyn Ashton


The Athertons sign with Animal

Young guns Dan, Gee and Rachel Atherton join the Animal program as juniors, taking the team to a whole new level of international competition performance and freeride action.

“They were talented, raw, unpredictable and we loved them.”

Steve Kitchin

Our Poole home


A home from home

Animal House in Poole becomes HQ for the brand. From small beginnings in a back bedroom we’ve come a long way!

Today you’ll still find us here, all under one roof, driving the brand forward for a new generation.

The Athertons sign with Animal


Team Animal Commencal

Animal celebrate our 20th Anniversary by forming a brand new team—Animal Commencal with long-time Animal riders Dan, Gee and Rachel Atherton.

It was also the opportunity to introduce some striking new kit!

The Athertons sign with Animal

“Inspiration for the kit was taken from Animal’s original zebra stripe hook and loop watch strap of 1987. As part of Animal’s 20th Anniversary, selected team riders from pro teams across board and bike sports will carry exclusive zebra graphics.”


A record breaking year

Guy Cribb (along with Antoine Albeau) becomes the first windsurfer to cross the English Channel from Cherbourg to Poole, raising money for the Ellen Macarthur Trust.

“We sailed from one country to another in a storm, never had to change sail and battled the whole journey in the harshest of conditions with a sinking boat.”

Guy Cribb

Animal Commencal is 2008 UCI World Champ thanks to both Rachel and Gee winning the Downhill World Championship

Rachel Atherton becomes the first British woman to win the Elite UCI Downhill World Championship, with older brother Gee also nailing the men’s title.

Martyn Ashton enters MTB hall of fame

Martyn Ashton enters the MTB Hall of Fame. In his stellar career he has been British Champion four times, World Champion and Guinness World Record holder (twice) and is also the man credited with bringing trials to the international stage.

The Athertons sign with Animal

Freeriding dirt jump star and all round top guy, Blake Samson, joins the Animal Bike Tour.

“I was SOOOOO stoked to be asked to ride with Martyn Ashton and Pilgz. From watching the Animal Bike Tour when I was growing up and getting a wallet signed by Martyn himself, and then to be riding along side him was like a dream come true.”

Blake Samson

Animal launches its e-commerce website

Animal joins the e-commerce world, launching the online shop.

Animal launches Animal wetsuits

Our first Animal wetsuit advert, engineered by Animals, tested on humans.


Animal Wetsuits

Animal launch our own wetsuit range. Our ‘rider refined’ programme means designs are constantly tested and refined by the Animal Team to create suits offering maximum performance. This is a process we still follow today.

We also run some pretty awesome wetsuit ads, featuring our very own Alan Stokes.

“Engineered by Animals. Tested on humans.”

Martyn Ashton releases Road Bike Party


Road Bike Party

In 2012 Martyn Ashton hits the radar of roadies, taking on the seemingly impossible by using an unmodified carbon road bike to perform a series of incredible acrobatic tricks. Shot on locations across the UK, Road Bike Party, and its sequel, amass millions of views and garner a whole new legion of fans.

Alan Stokes is 3 x British Champion


3 x British Champion

Stokesy wins his 3rd British Championship title as well as also scoring top spot at Night Surf. (He must like surfing in the dusk as this is the 5th time he’s won the crown!)

Animal hits the slopes with pro skier Murray Buchan

Animal pro snowboarder Dom Harington


Hitting the slopes

Animal representation reaches new levels with pro snowboarder Dom Harrington and half pipe skier Murray Buchan selected for Team GB at the Sochi Olympics.

“Making it to the Olympics was a childhood dream come true and I absolutely loved everything about the whole experience. Thank you so much for supporting me, especially over these last few years.”

Dom Harington

Madison Saracen team rider Manon Carpenter wins the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championship

On less snowy slopes, new Team Animal addition, Manon Carpenter, is crowned UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion.

Back on Track with Martyn Ashton, Blake Samson, Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg

Martyn Ashton gets back on the bike after his life changing accident

“All of us who ride bikes – whatever level it is – experience the exhilaration and freedom of riding. For some, and especially for me, that sticks and never goes away.”

Martyn Ashton


Back On Track

In 2013 Martyn Ashton suffered a life changing accident during a bike trials demo at Silverstone Moto GP. However, this didn’t end his passion for MTB, and after many months of rehabilitation, Martyn returned with ‘Back On Track,’ which sees him heading down the Antur Stiniog trail in North Wales on a sit-ski seat adapted bike with long-time mates MacAskill, Akrigg and Samson. The video becomes a global sensation.

Madi Rowlands wins Olympic Gold at Lillehammer 2016

“I couldn’t be happier. It’s just so overwhelming. It was nerve-wracking to wait for the others to finish but I felt like I had done enough.”

Madi Rowlands


History makers

Animal rider, Madi Rowlands, makes history after becoming Team GB’s first Winter Youth Olympic Games medallist on snow, taking gold in the ladies’ halfpipe event at Lillehammer 2016. We are stoked!

Animal launches its latest watch collection, with a nod to the original designs

Back in time

Drawing on our horological heritage we release a capsule watch collection for 2016, including the Z42, inspired by the very first Animal 001 watch series.

30 years young - Animal celebrates three decades with the release of a capsule collection

30 years young - Animal celebrates three decades with the release of a capsule collection


30 years young

To celebrate our 30th Anniversary we take a trip back into the Animal archives to release a capsule collection with original logo reissues and retro 80s patterns—paying homage to one of the very first Animal watch strap designs.

It’s been a blast. 30 years of adventure and many more to come....

Shop men's | Animal
Shop women's | Animal

Free delivery & returns
Free standard delivery on orders over £50 & super simple free returns.

6000 pick-up points nationwide.

Free delivery to store
Buy online, delivered free to your local Animal store.

Order in store
Easy access to our entire collection.