BikeBiz sat down with Swedish clothing brand Craft, to find out what makes innovation in cycle clothing so important, and how the brand is changing thing us in the UK market.
When and where was Craft started?
Craft was started 40 years ago; the company is based in Borås – an old traditional textile-industry town in the South of Sweden.
With so many giant clothing brands in the market, what are you doing differently?
Craft is a multi-sports brand and has been producing technical apparel since 1977. Functionality, stylish looks, and a great price point keeps us ahead of our competition.
As a newer brand in the UK market, how do you create customer trust around your products?
Ask anyone who owns a Craft Base layer; they last forever! We are building our story in the UK around positive reviews, great word of mouth and remarkable Craft athletes and ambassadors, recognisable to the UK buying public – one example is World Champ Peter Sagan.
Obviously you also make running clothing, are there many differences between cycle and running specific clothing?
The principal remains the same. Craft products work best with layering. We suggest a Base layer first, then a Mid layer and, if needed a water/ wind-proof outer shell. All fit together perfectly and expel moisture, keeping the athlete dry and comfortable.
Ask anyone who owns a Craft Base layer; they last forever!
What are you working on at the moment?
Next year’s SS18 cycling and running clothing is a huge step forward in terms of design. Women’s-specific designers have come in and given the range a whole new stylish look, whilst the fabric technology has been further enhanced with cool black sun protection and new Gore-Tex fabrics on the waterproof garments.
What are the major differences between crafting men’s and women’s cycling gear?
Up until SS18, we had very similar designs, but with women-specific cuts and women-specific pads on the garments. For SS18 however, the whole range has been geared with more of a fashion element to it whilst retaining the technical excellence that Craft is known for.
Where are the clothes made and how do you ensure a high level of production quality?
Craft has been working with the same factories for a long time and we have a huge development department in Boras, Sweden. Garments are tested rigorously in advance of them being produced on a larger scale in the factories.
What image is the brand promoting? Where do you fit in the marketplace?
Being a Swedish brand, we are lucky to have a fabulous backdrop of scenery in which to test, produce, and market our product. We promote a vibrant, multi-functional sports brand that offers great quality, innovation, and value for money.
How are you distributed in the UK?
Craft is distributed via New Wave group who own Craft via a network of sales agents. We sell in Wiggle, Evans, Cycle Republic, Go Outdoors, Sport Pursuit and about 50 UK Independents.
How can UK dealers stock CRAFT clothing and, more importantly, why should they stock your range?
We are actively looking for Craft stockists and can offer stores favourable terms and merchandising to help them sell Craft successfully, long-term. We understand the difficulties for stores with the increased competition from the on-liners, and we want to make it easy for stores to work with us. Regional exclusivity for the store and a more customer-friendly experience in-store is ultimately our goal to push the brand into independent retailers.