Pearl Izumi was formed in the 1950s in Japan – initially catering only for a male audience.
In the 1980s they moved much of the design and development work to the US where things began to change. Now, seven of their nine product developers are female and 51 per cent of their overall products are for women.
The product team is headed up by Senior Product Manager Caroline Marois, and the Senior Designer is Lynn Bush. Lynn joined in 2008, and the brand works with 214 US and 39 international female riders who wear and test their kit before, during and after production.
Bush, a mountain biker and CX rider, admits that in the past much of the design work was outsourced and carried out by men – saying: “Prior to when I was hired, much of the design was outsourced to contract designers which were predominantly male who designed women’s products, often resulting in women’s products being a ‘take down’ of the men’s styles with merchandiser’s briefs for men’s styles being used for its women’s version”.
“Long gone are the days where women’s product is born from men’s. The research and drive to build women’s product is conceived by women, for women.”
However, all this has changed – she says: “Long gone are the days where women’s product is born from men’s. The research and drive to build women’s product is conceived by women, for women. Women’s Design Direction and Language, cut and sew lines, colour, features, and fit are all defined, discussed, edited and evaluated among some of the most influential women and end users in our building. We have built a strong and dedicated team that embodies the varieties found in our end users. As a female athlete and as a female Designer, I am fortunate in my position to craft the look and experience I desire in a cycling kit. This feeling only gets better when the concepts come to market and is purchased and appreciated by the female consumer”.