One Glove – Playing For Keeps

The ONE Glove Company are UK-based and, for a number of years, have gone head-to-head with the biggest sports brands on the planet. As Professional Player discovered from managing director Miles Leighton and Watford keeper Rob Elliot, their innovative approach has cemented their position as a key player in what is a competitive market.

When was the brand launched and why, Miles?
It was 2004 and back then there wasn’t much on the market in terms of a professional level glove that wasn’t going to break the bank. It was called the One Glove Company because, essentially, there was just the one model we had on the market. As we’ve expanded down the years, it’s grown much bigger than that and although we manage to utilise the very best materials, we’ve still kept our costs down – which was always our main goal. As a result, we’ve built and then sustained our place in the market despite being in competition with a number of well-known sports brands.

‘After a few months’ feedback, we’ll go back to the design team for any tweaks we need, and once the product is ready, it’s time for the aesthetic side’

What were those early days like?
Once I had taken over the company, there was lots of selling out of the boot of my car, with storage space being my garage, the loft and even my parents’ house. As we pushed forward, we moved into our first storage facility – and we have since expanded three more times to the point where two years ago we moved to an all-encompassing fulfilment centre. Initially, I was coaching full-time for Tottenham before getting home in the evening; I’d then work through the night to get the orders out – but everything’s gone full circle. I still coach part-time with Spurs, but my main focus is now very much with ONE, as we strive to make even bigger strides moving forward.

The ONE Glove’s driving force: Miles Leighton (centre), flanked by Rob Elliot (left) and Will Leighton

How did your involvement come about, Rob?
I was sponsored by ONE and got on really well with Miles. We were talking all the time and that, naturally, developed into me coming on board. I’m on the ground, literally, so can test the gloves from a professional perspective and if anything needs tweaking, I’m here to give my opinion. It’s got to the point, however, where the company has developed so well that we know the latex and the fit is going to be top drawer anyway, so it’s just about taking it to the next level each time and looking for ways in which we can keep improving.

You now have over 20 different glove models – so you’ve certainly come a long way…
The fact that we now have such a wide range means we can cover more keepers’ likes and dislikes, whereas in the past if you liked a certain type of glove, you went with a certain company. We’re now able to offer every type of glove and have all bases covered, which is a reason why we’ve seen a growth in the pros wearing them as well. There’s a trust that’s been built up, not to mention how hard Miles has worked in development.

There are between 30 and 40 pros wearing the ONE glove, while the company will help out as many under-23s, 18s and youth teamers with discounted pricing

The public also get the same glove as the pros, right?
My ethos has always been to give the public exactly what the professionals get, so if you buy a pair off the website, you’re going to get a pair that Martin Dubravka or Alex McCarthy will be wearing at the weekend. There’s no latex that isn’t as good as the pros receive, and with so many different styles and colours, gloves for wet weather, gloves for dry weather, hard ground, soft ground, double wrap straps and single wrap straps, the possibilities are endless. Finding a pair of gloves that suit is like finding a comfy pair of shoes, so you have to cover everyone’s needs as much as you can.

‘After a few months’ feedback, we’ll go back to the design team for any tweaks we need, and once the product is ready, it’s time for the aesthetic side’

How long does it take to make a pair of gloves from scratch?
From day one of the design spec and brief going in, you’re probably looking at 12 months. Although they might look great on paper, there’s always changes to be made. We’ll brief our design team and there will be plenty of back and forth as you can imagine. That takes a couple of months, then it’s off to the factory for what we call the tooling and moulds, and we’ll start to produce samples. We’ll send a pair to Rob for feedback and we’ll also send them across all levels, right down to under-8s, because the consumer is the most important part of our business.
After a few months’ feedback, we’ll go back to the design team for any tweaks we need, and once the product is ready, it’s time for the aesthetic side. We’ll produce more samples to see how the designs and colours come out, and then, when we’re happy, we’ll get all the photography and videography done, ready for the launch.

How hard is it to compete with the likes of Nike, adidas, Puma or Reusch?
We know financially we’re not on the same level but we’re constantly looking to push the boundaries, to innovate, and to try and work with what small percentages we can get out of the glove. For instance, we have a lightweight version, where we have shaved off a little bit of weight here and there, which Martin Dubravka wears, and his glove now comes in at just 95g a pair. Lots of things have already been done with regards to glove technology, so it’s harder than ever to try and think of new ways and new materials – but as we’ve already proved, we can compete by thinking outside of the box to gain an edge. With goalkeeper gloves, you need to keep adding five or ten per cent each year and that’s what we’ve done really well.

‘We are becoming more interactive through social media, which is such a powerful tool, and the customers’ feedback is imperative to what we do moving forward’

Being a smaller company, does that mean you have a better relationship with your players and customers?
We are goalkeepers creating goalkeeper gloves and in that respect, it feels like we are giving something back. We are becoming more interactive through social media, which is such a powerful tool, and the customers’ feedback is imperative to what we do moving forward, be it with the glove, apparel or equipment. We want to show we are human and will interact with people; we’ll reply to tweets and direct messages because we don’t want to come across as a massive entity, where you can’t get through the front door or speak to anyone. We want people to speak to us, to hear their goalkeeper stories and to be a support page for people, especially during these difficult Covid times.

Martin Dubravka

Newcastle United and Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is one of The ONE Glove’s leading endorsees. He explains how he became a goalkeeper and what life is like playing in the
Premier League

How did you get into football, Martin? 
I actually started playing ice hockey but when I was six I joined the local team in my city [Zilina] with my friends. I was lucky because my grandmother knew the coaches at the club and she took me there. Once I’d joined, that was it, I was a football player. 

How did you become a goalkeeper? 
Good question! I was one of the smallest ones at the club and they put me in the goal because they were maybe afraid to put me on the pitch where I might get smashed during the game! I was actually afraid to be in goal but when I got home, my father put me in goal and told me he was a goalkeeper, so I became a keeper.

How have you found the Premier League?
When you come to England you don’t know what to expect. I have some experience from international games but you are coming to one of the best leagues in the world, so it’s hard to prepare. I have adapted but it’s still hard because you are facing some of the best players on the planet. 

Do you have any advice for upcoming young keepers?
Never give up and also learn from your mistakes. Everybody can make a mistake but it’s how you react which is important. You also have to study all the things you have done in a game and that will help you moving forward. 

Why did you choose the ONE glove?
When I came to Newcastle, Rob Elliot showed me his gloves and it was interesting for me because I was looking for new gloves myself. He brought me in a few models and I really liked them. I tried them first in training and liked the fit and the grip, and so I couldn’t be happier to wear them in a game. 

What type of glove do you like to wear?
I like very tight gloves where you don’t have that much material, not too much space. I am also looking for a grip to suit all conditions, especially in England where there’s a lot of rain! 

Finally, what’s the best thing about being a goalkeeper? 
That’s a hard question! You get to play at an older age than the outfield players but I also like making saves – flying for the balls when I get a chance. That’s what I like!

Martin played for Zilina, Esbjerg, Slovan Liberec and Sparta Prague before joining Newcastle United in 2018! | @theonegloveco | @TheOneGloveCo | #TrainPlayWearOne

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