Women’s mountain bike and outdoor clothing have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years. There is more variety than ever before and, although we still have some way to go, we’re a darn sight better off than the shrink it n’ pink it of days gone by.
One brand who has played a significant role in the evolution of womenswear is a Scottish clothing brand, FINDRA. Launching in December 2014, the merino clothing specialist is celebrating four years in business making it the perfect time to catch-up with the founder, Alex Feechan, for a spot of reflection.
FINDRA was born from Alex’s passion for mountain biking, as Alex recalls; “I was standing in the bike shop in Glentress Forest having just finished a great bike ride with an amazing bunch of women. I distinctly remember looking at the clothes available and seeing that 80% of the products were for men, and the 20% on offer for women were just an afterthought of the men’s range. I thought about how much I loved the sport, and the energy and positivity of the women I cycled with, and at that moment, I absolutely believed that I could do it better”.
“I remember when we were about to launch, and I felt so nervous and unsure as to how the brand and our products would be received.” – Alex Feechan
Since its inception, FINDRA has gone from strength-to-strength on a fascinating journey through development and evolution. When starting, Alex’s enthusiasm aligned with mountain biking but thinking ahead, Alex knew FINDRA needed the allowance to grow beyond the trails: “I knew right from the start that I wanted to create something that I could scale.”
With a wide range of active outdoor clothing that’s both stylish and functional, the FINDRA brand is one that is revered amongst the mountain bike and outdoor community. However, all ventures experience growing pains and challenges along the way, and FINDRA was no different.
Being a one-woman-show can’t be easy, and when FINDRA first launched, Alex was wearing all the hats and spinning all the plates. If that wasn’t a big enough challenge, Alex explains the complexities of textiles in the outdoor industry: “Although there was an understanding of the benefits of wearing merino wool outdoors, it wasn’t widespread. I think this, combined with the fact that the products are fairly understated in their design and branding, meant FINDRA was possibly misunderstood in some quarters with our products sometimes seen as ‘too nice’ to bike in.”
“One of my mentors told me, ‘You need to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable,’ and he was so right!” – Alex Feechan
When you look at FINDRA’s extensive range of clothing, their elegance, practicality and style are admired, so it’s no wonder why some people consider FINDRA as being “too nice” to ride in. However, when you see Lee Craigie cycling incredible lengths, wild terrains and embarking on multi-day adventures, all kitted out in FINDRA, you realise that your weekly bimble poses no threat to this remarkable fabric.
Now, with four successful years under their belt, FINDRA has learnt a great deal about their customers’ interests, making a significant effort to understand their customer’s needs, who they are and what they want to see, often leading to new developments.
After earning a sterling reputation for women’s merino finery, it didn’t take long for men to start knocking on FINDRA’s door, requesting their own range. With womenswear often created as an afterthought for other brands, Alex wanted to ensure FINDRA’s women’s collection was well established before considering branching out.
“At no point in the initial development of FINDRA did I think about the men’s market, so to constantly have blokes ask if we were going to do a men’s version was completely unexpected.” – Alex Feechan
In 2017, FINDRA began the intensive process of market researching for their menswear collection, including ideas for product development, demand and focus groups. With encouraging and fruitful feedback, the FINDRA menswear collection launched in 2018, with mountaineer and trail runner, Graham Kelly, and outdoor enthusiast, Tom Hill, joining FINDRA’s ambassador family.
The FINDRA Family
It’s not only the products which make FINDRA such a revered and highly sought-after brand, but it’s also their close working relationship with ambassadors as well. With a variety of outdoor enthusiasts on the roster, FINDRA’s ambassadors help test new products at the prototype stage, offer valuable feedback and, ultimately, help create the final product that we see in the store.
“As a brand, FINDRA has always aimed to encourage and empower others to get outdoors and reap the many benefits of being surrounded by nature.” – Alex Feechan
When selecting new ambassadors, Alex prefers to have a well-rounded mix; “All of our ambassadors are truly inspirational. From Jenny Tough, who was the only woman to complete the Silk Road Mountain Race, or Dee Hollingsbee, who lives in the Tweed Valley and volunteers as a bike coach taking groups of kids out each weekend. We want our brand ambassadors to inspire and motivate others to realise that anyone can choose to get outdoors and benefit from all that it brings”.
So, with four great years done and dusted, the FINDRA brand is looking healthy and stylish, but what’s next?
Alex has let on that we’ll be seeing some new and exciting products in 2019, including their first waterproof and windproof jacket. Constructed from a recycled technical fabric, which uses ground coffee beans, we can’t wait to see the final result. Although, with Alex’s flair for marrying fashion and function, I don’t doubt it’ll be a hit with outdoor enthusiasts.
You may also enjoy: