Interview: Ashley Rankin of SHREDLY Shorts

SHREDLY Shorts

I always get asked where I get my shorts from, I’ve even had women take photos of them so they can find them online! To my surprise, not many women have heard of SHREDLY, but after seeing their unique eye-catching shorts, they won’t be able to forget them.

I speak with a lot of female riders, all different ages, disciplines, sizes and shapes and a common cry for help is with clothing. Although larger brands are starting to tease us with women-specific wear, it still feels like we’re pulling at a thread to one day unravel a dream wardrobe of biking wear.

When I started out riding, one of the first companies I came across for clothing was SHREDLY. I don’t need to say much about this brand because the shorts really speak for themselves! Variety, Colour, Patterns… and style. These shorts are so eye-catching that it didn’t take me long to click a few pairs into my basket and spend invisible money on these beauties.

SHREDLY offer a wide variety of shorts and other riding apparel, but where did it all begin? We chatted with Ashley Rankin, the brains and beauty behind the brand.

Hi Ashley, thanks for speaking with Velo Me! Can you tell us a little about yourself, your biking background and what inspired you to start producing women’s biking kit?

I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, USA and my family built one of the first houses in our neighbourhood that were up in the sticks. We had plenty of open fields to play in and formed courses or obstacles that always somehow ended up running through the pool or tennis courts down the street. My parents made us go on family rides together where we had to actually complete a ride from start to finish, with uphill and downhill. I remember really hating it and thought the rides were so hard. I much preferred to stay in the neighbourhood playing on our made up courses! It wasn’t until college that I really enjoyed riding (on my own accord) and started to embrace the pain and suffering that came with climbing because I knew what came after…the downhill!

In college, I studied Apparel Design and Production and paired it with a second degree in Business Marketing. I had no interest in designing outdoor or athletic apparel and had always planned on being a high-end, couture designer – just like Reese Witherspoon was in Sweet Home Alabama. I spent a summer studying abroad in Florence and fell so madly in love with the country that I considered moving to Milan to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Then I went to Switzerland for a weekend and the fresh, clean mountain air, the absence of concrete littered with dog poo and high-rise buildings changed something in me. I realized my heart wasn’t in the city. So I moved back to the mountains and starting working in the marketing world. It still didn’t appeal to me to pursue outdoor design, but then I bought a new bike and started riding a lot. I rode mainly with my girlfriends, and like the true fashionista in me, I wanted to look stylish on my bike. I hated putting on my tight, uncomfortable shorts with the chamois attached to the inside. I also hated the hand-me-down jerseys from my Mom that was obviously from the 90’s, but when I shopped for alternatives I didn’t really find much better. I had visions of fun shorts that I wanted and the jerseys to wear with them, but I couldn’t find anything like them. The designs in my head wouldn’t go away and after talking with my girlfriend’s about their complaints and desires I had a clear picture of the products that we were all looking for. That’s when I thought, “Hey, I could design these things! I could probably even produce them! Hmmm…let’s give this a whirl.” 

Tell us a little about SHREDLY itself, the people that work there and how the wicked designs come to life.

SHREDLY currently consists of one full-time (me, surprise!) and one part-time employee (the lovely Danii Morse). It is a small operation and we wear a lot of hats like Designer, Sales Rep, Customer Service, Accounting, Fulfillment and Warehouse management, Returns/Exchanges, PR, Marketing, Events, etc. Some days I don’t even know what hat I’m wearing besides Crazy! Right now our focus is obviously making really great gear, keeping the product offerings manageable while continuing to add essentials to the line and keep it exciting. The designs are engineered very thoughtfully and always come from a place of need. We are ladies, we know what we need, and we’re listening carefully to what other ladies want as well. When it comes to the designs it’s really nice to have something to offer everyone. The wild and crazies, the more conservative, and then everyone in between. Our customers range in age from 12 to over 80! Seriously! It has been so fun to learn who our customers really are and that they come from all different walks of life, shapes, sizes and ages. Not all of them ride bikes, some just love the comfort and functionality of the products along with the fun designs! So when we are selecting final designs each one tends to pick its own personality from our customer base and we make sure to have a selection that offers something for everyone! 

In your time of running SHREDLY, what changes in the women’s market have you noticed and are there any future plans to expand the brand further?

The market has definitely changed since SHREDLY was born 4 years ago. More and more women are riding bikes, it’s exploding. Instead of SHREDLY being the black sheep, and departing from the typical black shorts, all companies are now trying to address it. What do women want, how can we meet their needs? It’s nice to see the market shifting towards satisfying specific demands instead of just offering the basics because there isn’t any competition. 

We’ll continue to do what we’re doing well, and then I think it will naturally expand into other areas that are being neglected. But first things first, we still have a lot of non-SHREDLY wearers to convert!

Do you have a favourite piece/range of clothing you’ve done so far?

The shorts are definitely my favourite to design. It is so fun to see the patterns come to life once they’re off the computer and on an actual garment! Then to see them on different ladies of all shapes and sizes and see how great they look is so fun and rewarding. 

I love SHREDLY shorts, I think you have a brilliant attitude towards women in riding and promoting stylish and functional kit. What more do you think could be done by bike parks and other leading brands to encourage more women to get out on the bike?

I think this is all happening now and it’s really exciting! I see so many ladies riding groups, women’s clinics, women’s brands that are hosting or promoting ladies only events: ladies maintenance workshops, ladies only bike races, ladies night at bike parks, equal purses for men and women’s categories and more! This is all great and will transcend generations. The young ladies that are growing up now are exposed to so many more opportunities to get on bikes, and if we all continue to do our part and support these programs, it will encourage more women to get on the bike! There are even organizations like Mountain2Mountain (and Afghan Cycles) who are bravely helping to support women who wish to ride bikes in places where it is considered taboo, and can even be a dangerous decision. Very cool that these initiatives are taking place in developing parts of the world.

SHREDLY Shorts

And Ashley, we all want to know what bike you’re currently riding and what trails you love best!

Ahh! My current bike is the Yeti Beti SBC5. It is an incredible bike that is game-changing, and I am in love! It climbs like a dream and is very fun and responsive on the descents. I never really thought you could have the best of both worlds. 

My absolute favourite trails are in this order:

The Whole Enchilada in Moab, Utah, USA
Prince Creek in Carbondale, Colorado, USA
Off the Grid in Seattle, Washington

I wear SHREDLY shorts on a majority of my rides, I find the fit spot on and the small size increments make it easy to find an ideal size for you. The designs are awesome, really eye-catching and stylish which are fun to coordinate with the rest of your riding attire. They are a softshell material with breathable discrete vents but are still comfortable to ride in and manoeuvre with. I’ve even worn them off the bike as well, great beachwear and all-rounder because they don’t even look bike specific!

Because of the soft shell material, these shorts may not be ideal for aggressive downhill riding or racing. The material is soft so they can wear after many bike hours, and even snag on hefty impacts. At $100 a pair (£67), they are on the higher end of the price spectrum, but after having tried and tested so many other pairs of shorts, these work best for me personally.

It sounds as if Ashley made the right choices in life to lead her to be Miss SHREDLY, and I’m grateful because, as a consumer, I benefit from her creativity! Women’s riding is an exciting place to be, and it’s a great time to get involved with all these amazing companies popping up and contributing to the growth and success of female riders everywhere.