BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) — Hugh Walton is going back to work for Descente, the clothing brand with which he has had a long relationship.
Walton, still recovering from a stroke and open heart surgery last year, is the new assistant manager of Descente North America's cycling division, based in Denver. Walton will work from home in nearby Boulder.
Walton was instrumental in launching the Pearl Izumi clothing brand in the U.S. and later rebuilt the Descente label here. His company, Axcent Sports, acquired the U.S. rights to the Descente brand for cycling clothing in 2002. In 2008 Veltec Sports took over Axcent and Walton went to work for the distributor.
When Veltec shut down in 2011, the Descente brand reverted to Descente North America, a subsidiary of Descente Limited, based in Japan.
The brand has been nearly dormant in the U.S. for the last year, but is set to return to the market with an initial focus on custom clothing. The company has been taking orders for custom apparel, which will begin shipping next month.
Descente will show a new 2014 model year cycling line at the fall trade shows, Walton said. Descente also will show its current cycling line at the SIA ski show in Denver early next month. Walton said Descente Limited wants to build a strong cycling line to complement its skiing products.
"We are well aware that there are plenty of suppliers of cycling apparel in the world," Walton told BRAIN on Tuesday. "Why do we think another one can survive? The answer is the Descente brand still has legs. The product for our custom line is absolutely beautiful. So it comes down to a great brand with product that has awesome integrity."
Walton had been set to take over as general manager of Mavic's U.S. operations last May when he suffered a stroke that prevented him from taking on that role. He had open heart surgery late last year in an effort to fix a condition that could have led to another stroke. In December Mavic and Walton announced a mutual decision to go separate ways as Walton focused on his recovery.
Walton, a former pro racer, remains on blood thinners and can't ride a bike outside because of the danger of a crash, although he does hike. He has speech therapy three times a week to overcome the effects of the stroke.
He said the complexity of the Mavic position, and the job's location in Massachusetts, would have been difficult for him and his family during his recovery. The Descente position, however, is "a terrific fit," he said.