Our story so far!
As many good adventures do, this one starts with a bike.
It was spring 2015 and after many years of a healthy interest in the sport (thanks to a MTB obsessed boyfriend-now-husband James, his brother and their dad), I finally stumbled across the advert I had been waiting for – a beautiful full suspension mountain bike, just the right size for me and within the frugal price range of a newly graduated marine biologist. She was an old, but barely used second hand (or third or fourth) Giant Reign who had spent her 5 years sitting mostly stationary in the garages of various unenthusiastic owners. I bit the bullet, handed over the money and became the proud owner of my ‘proper’ mountain bike. Little did I know that 6 years later, my humble bike purchase would steer me in the direction to start up my own mountain biking clothing company.
I was by no means a beginner cyclist when bought my bike; I have loved bikes for as long as I can remember and some of my earliest memories are learning to ride and playing ‘horses’ in the road growing up. But I was certainly new to mountain biking and I loved it instantly. James and I would spend many of our weekends and holidays exploring different trail centres in the UK. My confidence soon grew as I worked my way up from cruisy green/blue trails to more technical blues and reds with drops and small jumps.
In 2017 we embarked on any mountain bikers’ dream holiday; 3 weeks in Whistler. I decided it was time I upgraded my mountain bike wardrobe in preparation and began to look for more suitable riding kit to wear. Until this time I had one pair of ill-fitting shorts and one long sleeve jersey, both fairly pricey from well-known brands, which I chose because I liked the design and colour. I loved how they looked, but riding in them was so uncomfortable and the “technical fabric” (polyester) would leave me feeling sweaty, hot and irritated. I would mostly wear my ‘normal’ clothes to ride in but there comes a point when an old cotton t-shirt and running leggings under kneepads no longer cuts the mustard. I needed something much more comfortable and appropriate to the demands of long days riding.
"I struggled to find anything that fitted and felt comfortable against my skin"
I found that the range of women’s MTB wear in the UK to be pretty limited and being petite with a proportionately long body and arms it’s even more so. I really struggled to find anything that fitted and felt comfortable against my skin. And it wasn’t just me encountering kit related problems. My husband is from a family of very tall, slim, men. He would buy jerseys to fit his waist/chest size but these would invariably come up short and ride up as he rode. Conversely his similar shaped brother would buy jerseys in a far-too-large size just so it would be long enough in the body, but this meant yards of extra fabric around his middle. We are far from unusual shapes yet mainstream brands and standard sizing just don't fit, so the idea that would become Terrain Clothing was born; a new brand of made-to-measure mountain bike kit with fit and comfort at its core.
After a particularly tough year spending weeks away at sea, in early 2018 I decided to hang up my lifejacket and oilskins and hand in my notice as a marine biologist. I dusted off my sewing machine, bought some supplies and set to work on my new start-up.
I began by designing what is now known as the OriginMTB jersey. The concept was simple – a made-to-measure mountain bike jersey. In practice it was perhaps a lot more complicated than it sounds. I spent hours drawing the pattern in specialist computer software, then carefully modifying it over weeks and months to get the fit just right and drafting in friends and family to help with testing every iteration. Using the computer software allows for the unique ability to change any and all body measurements for different people. We don’t have a set of basic sized patterns that we tweak like a tailor would, instead the whole pattern is completely re-built for every individual allowing for a completely custom-fit garment.
"One ride in a lyocell jersey and you will never look at 100% polyester the same way again"
Whilst the pattern building was ongoing I was also searching for the perfect fabric. In the UK, outdoor and sports fabrics are very difficult to get hold of, I tried and tested everything I could get my hands on but always with the same critical problem; I just didn’t want to use 100% polyester. I took my search to several well-renowned trade fairs and after hunting high and low through 100s of fabric samples, I finally found it! A beautifully soft, naturally wicking and high performance sports fabric made with 70% Lyocell fibres which is an eco-friendly product made from the regeneration of sustainably sourced wood pulp. The remaining 30% is polyester which helps maintain the high durability required of MTB wear. I honestly believe that after one ride in a lyocell based jersey, you will never look at 100% polyester in the same way again.
A few weeks of website building later and we were ready to release our jerseys, I am so happy with the final result; a quality, perfectly fitting MTB top, entirely bespoke to the user, regardless of body shape with no size limits.
Then came the 2020… as with many small businesses, navigating the murky waters of a global pandemic has been undeniably strange. During last spring, I had a brief change of tack and spent a number of months running a fundraising project to produce free scrubs for local NHS workers. I spent every working hour cutting, sewing and delivering scrubs to those who had reached out for help (read more here). More recently we've had the added complication of Brexit impacting the supply of materials to the UK making it much more difficult to source new fabrics and components. Despite this, I have continued to work hard developing our new jersey artwork and mountain biking shorts which I hope to release in the coming months.
So that’s how we got here, to March 2021. I am very much looking forward to the future of Terrain Clothing and seeing where the adventure takes me!
Thanks for reading and checking out the website! Happy riding!