In the world of women’s specific cycling clothing, the term “pink it and shrink it” has become sort of the running joke recently. That is to say that for many manufacturers, simply taking clothing originally designed for men and then making it pink (or other “feminine” colors) and offering it in smaller sizes has become standard practice. That may be oversimplifying things, but in many cases it’s not far from the truth.
That exact trend was what originally inspired Alex Feechan to try something different. Alex has a background in design and had a lot of experience working with high end cashmere, and as a mountain biker herself, she simply didn’t like the clothing she saw for sale at the time. After receiving an email from the Scottish Enterprise for Business Development, Alex saw the opportunity to create a brand that really focused on what women wanted in outdoor active wear. After 18 months of market research working with Danny Cowe and the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland to arrange focus groups, Alex felt like they were able to get a better idea of what women actually wanted rather than just guessing. With a goal of creating technical product with natural materials and modern design, Alex launched Findra in 2014 – admittedly unsure of how it would work out.
Four years later, it seems to be going very well. After starting at her kitchen table, Alex then moved to the garage, then a small studio space, and a year ago, finally to this location in Innerleithen, Scotland. Along with the new storefront, Findra now has multiple employees (still mostly women), a new store that should have just opened in Edinburgh, and even introduced a men’s line as well – though the mix of women’s to men’s product is still about 80/20. According to Alex, they were already having men buy product even though it was women’s specific, so that made her think that they should look at it as a serious option. But if it was to be done, it would have to exist with their current brand values which in then end are about good quality design, not just genders. Wanting to simply get people outdoors, Findra wants to make products that help in that regard.
Maybe more importantly, this is also the first year that Findra has introduced new designs for the women’s range as well. From the beginning, Findra has focused on natural materials like wool that originates in New Zealand, but is spun into garments in Italy. However, it’s more than just wool. The pieces incorporate impressive details within the wool like true one piece seamless construction, built in zones that have different weaves to make them more breathable or more durable, thumb loops, and more.
Some of the new products incorporate other materials with slightly different construction techniques like flat lock seams and light weight merino blends..
Just like the early days of the women’s line, the men’s line starts with a core range of base layers, long and short sleeve jerseys, and a few other items that are stylish but won’t go out of season. It’s clear that Findra’s focus is still squarely on the women’s market, but they had enough requests to make some pieces for men that it seems like a solid business decision. After riding in the Findra Arran Merino Enduro Long Sleeve jersey while over at Glentress, I’d have to agree.
Of course, there are plenty of merino wool accessories to go along with the clothing like socks, hats, neck warmers, and more. You can find all of the gear in their police station turned headquarters in Innerleithen, the store in Edinburgh, or shipped straight to your door. But if you happen to be in the area, you might just run into yet another member of the Adventure Syndicate, Jenny Tough. Jenny just happened to be hanging out at the store after riding in her on her Shand Stooshie – much like when we happened to meet Jenny Graham over at Shand.