It's impossible to ride at a trail centre and not see fellow female MTBer's ripping down in a blur of colourful Flare kit.
Since the brand launch in 2013, Flare Clothing has really brightened up our rides with their highly thought out women's kit. Everything from the cut, fabric choices, design and colour-ways have been carefully considered to provide female riders with exactly what they need to perform their best, and look good whilst doing it.
The creative mind behind the Flare brand is avid mountain biker, fashionista and all round awesome woman, Hannah Myers.
What began as a project for her Masters degree, Flare Clothing has evolved into a staple brand within the women's mountain bike industry.
We caught up with Hannah to find out how the first few years of Flare Clothing have gone.
Hannah Myers, Director of Flare Clothing
"We’ve really enjoyed the process, and are happy that our products are now better than ever" - Hannah Myers
Starting your own business is nothing short of scary. But to start a business based on your own creativity, producing performance kit for a rapidly growing women's sports market, is terrifying to say the least. But that's exactly what Hannah did in 2013 when she launched the Flare brand.
Like with any new business venture, there's going to be learning curves, mistakes made and lessons learned. Hannah shared with me her biggest learning curve to date: "The biggest learning curve has been finding the right people to work with. Getting products manufactured to the standards we expect has been a challenge, but we’ve really enjoyed the process and are happy that our products are now better than ever."
Needless to say the fashion world is constantly changing. Trends, colours and styles change like the wind, and in mountain biking, it isn't much different. Albeit a new market, women's MTB is still finding its fashion identity, "the market is still too young for strong trends to be identifiable, and, whilst there are so many more products available for women, the selection is still relatively limited. "
A part of the learning curve is to adapt to these trends and learn what works and what doesn't. Hannah tells us: "It’s interesting that the colours/products that are the most requested tend to be the lowest selling. For example, at the beginning all of the people we asked during the initial research stages loved the idea of a tank top style jersey – you wouldn’t get tan lines and the racer-back looks really sporty, but feminine. But hardly anyone actually bought them because there’s usually only one day of the year that’s warm enough!"
I've met up with Hannah and the Flare family a few times, often at shows and races, and I'm always blown away by her passionate and outgoing attitude when speaking about the Flare brand, and when chatting with customers. Travelling hundreds of miles around the country attending events is a large part of the process, but Hannah explains that "it enables us to showcase our range at all the important races and exhibitions and to gain vital feedback from the consumer. A lot of our sales are made online, so events are a great opportunity for people to feel the fabric and try the fit."
Support and Sponsorship
Flare Clothing hasn't just stopped at manufacturing women's kit, they endeavour to support and sponsor a multitude of events and riders also.
Women's specific races and events, like the women's weekend at Bike Park Wales, have been popping up all over the country, and who better to be working alongside them than Flare. Hannah explains: "We love supporting events that encourage new people to get involved which is why we’re the headline sponsors for Maidenduro, a new female-only race taking place in July this year at Innerleithan, Scotland. This is an enduro event for women of different riding abilities. We can’t tell you how excited we are about this."
"We’ve made a point of supporting racers and riders of all levels right from day one. It’s our way of giving something back." - Hannah Myers
With the most recent news of signing up New Zealand Enduro rider, Meg Bichard, Team Flare is dedicated to promoting riders of all abilities. We find out why this is so important to the brand: "We’ve made a point of supporting racers and riders of all levels right from day one. It’s our way of giving something back. It also gives us the opportunity to test out our new products in a real world environment, as well as ensure everyone is as cool and comfortable as possible."
What's Next for Flare?
The eagerly anticipated 2016 kit has been teased on social media through the Flare channels and from what we've seen, we can't wait hit the trails hard in a flurry of colour.
With the successful launch of women's MTB apparel, Flare has since launched their men's line: Flare Rider, which boasts the same high-quality and stylish standard.
So what's Hannah got in store for Flare? "We’re planning on starting an accessories line to offer an even larger product base, and we’re considering working on a children’s MTB range too. Of course, as well as that, we’ll continue to create new and exciting designs to ensure the quality of our garments exceeds ours, and the consumer’s expectations."
When asked to sum up the past couple of years into three words, Hannah replied: "Hectic. Rewarding. Exciting". Given all that her and the Flare brand has achieved in such as short period of time, it's easy to see how this is a fitting description.
The Flare Clothing brand has gone from strength to strength in its short lifespan, but with a passionate and inspiring director behind the wheel, I'm excited to see them continue to brighten up the women's industry.
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