Wiggle’s in house brand, dhb, formed in 2004 with the aim of filling gaps that the retailer saw in the market. Twelve years on, and they’ve grown from plugging holes to being a well-regarded brand in their own right, with a reputation for providing excellent quality kit at a great price.
Despite being a diverse brand with five different product ranges to boast, and having won Clothing Brand of the Year at the 2015 Total Women’s Cycling Awards, it’s only recently we’ve felt dhb has begun to step out of the Wiggle shadow to reveal more about the characters working behind the scenes.
We spoke to the brand’s Product Manager, Ben Hewitt, to hear more about the process behind creating a collection – something fresh in his mind following the introduction of their first water resistant apparel, as part of the Aeron range. Hewitt heads up a team of just 5 people responsible for creating the kit, but they also rely upon testers and customer feedback, as he explained…
TWC: Talk me through the development process of a new piece of kit – do you start with fit, fabric, performance level or by considering aesthetics?
Ben: Honestly? It’s everything. But I guess our choice of fabrics and fit is derived from the performance we want to get to. Once identified we start our research, we talk directly with fabric mills, manufacturers, and use our own experience to come up with options, that we then test. Fit is very important to us, one of the great things about working for dhb is that we get direct feedback from customers, we use this feedback to try and get the best fit possible for the performance.
Do you usually look to make alterations to an existing range, to make it more suited to a specific need, or do you always start from the ground up?
It’s a mixture of both. When you have older product that has performed so well for 4 or 5 years with 1,000’s of reviews, we’d be silly not to look at it. But we’re always keen to push as hard as we can, this often means starting all over again. New fabrics, new fits, new approaches in some cases. It makes what we do more exciting.
dhb is incredibly popular as a brand, and we see a lot of women wearing the kit too – why do you think you’re attracting more women than some other brands?
“We don’t just ‘shrink and pink’. I think we’re honest, we’re direct to customers, so we learn quickly and act.”
This year about 24 per cent of our sales are women’s, something we’re really proud of and hope to build on. We seem to be doing better than some of the other brands we keep tabs on.
I think it’s probably because we don’t just ‘shrink and pink’. I think we’re honest, we’re direct to customers, so we learn quickly and act. The women’s market share is fairly small in comparison to the men’s, but it always will be unless we make kit especially for them, make it accessible and don’t treat the women’s collection as an afterthought.