Based in the Scottish Borders, Findra bring such a fresh, design-led approach to women’s cycle clothing that we were intrigued to discover what inspired their creations.
‘I felt strongly about creating a brand which celebrated female bikers and gave them clothing that looked good, felt good and performed really well.’
Who better to ask than Findra’s founder and CEO, Alex Feechan, who gave us a really interesting interview, which we are delighted to share with you.
IT’S GREAT TO BE WORKING WITH YOU, ALEX. COULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
My background is in fashion and textiles, I studied Industrial Design and Textiles at Heriot Watt then went on to the Royal College of Art where I studied Fashion Knitwear.
I have worked in the Fashion and Textile Industry for over 20 years working as a knitwear designer, predominantly on the collections of high end luxury fashion brands where I would be involved in the design and product development of their knitwear collections. Although I have always been based in Scotland I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world in order to design and understand international markets and cultures.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DESIGN CYCLE CLOTHING?
About 5 years ago I started to mountain bike and got really hooked on it, I decided I would go and buy some decent kit to wear which would allow me to enjoy the sport and also protect me from the Scottish weather. What I discovered however was a distinct lack of nicely designed female specific kit. I felt that the product available was a bit of an afterthought of the men’s range. This was hugely disappointing.
With a background in design and a real passion for cycling I felt inspired and motivated to do something better and create some disruption in the existing market place. I felt strongly about creating a brand which celebrated female bikers and gave them clothing that looked good, felt good and performed really well, allowing them to enjoy the biking.
IS THERE A STORY BEHIND THE NAME, FINDRA?
FINDRA is a combination of Gaelic and Scandinavian words, I am very inspired by Scandinavian design and architecture and was naturally drawn to elements of the culture. It was important to me to have a name, which represented the brand and our values. FINDRA is as much about our ethos as it is about our clothing. We aim to empower females to look good, feel good and perform to the best of their abilities through participation in outdoor sports.
The combination of the words FINN and DRA come from Scandinavian mythical folklore. Huldra are strong, beautiful, mountain dwelling, female creatures who protect the land and seas! I like the thought of strong females who care about and enjoy the outdoors just like the women I have met and cycled with over the years!
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE FINDRA IN ONE WORD WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU LOVE MOST?
Singletrack. I love the variety and challenges of a good singletrack trail. Living in Innerleithen I am fortunate enough to have many trails on my doorstep that I can enjoy at any time in any weather!
HOW DID MOUNTAIN BIKING INSPIRE YOUR CLOTHING DESIGNS?
FINDRA clothing has its roots in mountain biking because that is the sport that I love and enjoy. In the early stages of the brand formation I observed many MT bikers and the clothes they were wearing. I also felt that the social aspect of biking was as important – going for a coffee afterwards for instance – and therefore I felt the lifestyle element of the sport was really important too. I wanted to ensure my designs were performance driven but also had an element of style and design within them that enables females to feel comfortable and good about themselves on and off the bike.
NO BACK POCKETS – A BRAVE MOVE OR A SANE MOVE TO MAINTAIN THE CLEAN LINES OF YOUR MERINO TOPS?
Again going back to my observations and also the garments I was wearing at that point I felt that the back pocket was an unnecessary extra, it was a detail that was not utilised particularly by MTB bikers. It therefore was not essential. Details like this also add expense to the construction of the garment and if this detail is only for visual effect and is not utilised practically then it becomes an unnecessary expense. As a believer in the design principal ‘Form Follows Function’ its important for me to ensure all detailing in my clothes are there for a reason and function, and not just too look good.
WHERE ARE YOUR MERINO GARMENTS MADE?
FINDRA is made in both the Scottish Borders and also in England. We work closely with our suppliers meeting them regularly to ensure we build a strong working relationship and have a clear understanding of the products and what I hope to achieve in terms of design and production.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR MERINO WOOL FROM?
Our merino wool is sourced from New Zealand where we work with ethical Zique Accredited farmers. The wool is then spun in Italy to ensure we have the finest fibre for producing our lightweight seamless garments in the UK.
WE’RE IMPRESSED BY THE SEAMLESS CONSTRUCTION OF MANY OF THE GARMENTS. ARE THERE ANY OTHER MANUFACTURING DETAILS WORTH FLAGGING UP TO SHOW HOW FINDRA STAND OUT AGAINST MOST COMPETING BIKE CLOTHING COMPANIES?
I think the approach to design is worth discussing. I aim to source the best, most innovative performance raw materials, often overlooked by other brands. I try and ensure we use fibres which have many performance features and which are also a bit different. Combining these with simple designs that take into consideration the female form and the ergonomics of cycling mean we create very considered products that are simple, stylish and very much performance led.
WE LOVE YOUR NECK WARMERS. I TAKE IT THERE’S NO REASON WHY THEY WOULDN’T FIT MEN TOO
Our neck warmers can be and are bought by men. We have had a huge amount of interest across all products from men, who are keen for us to do a men’s range! Which is quite ironic really but a very nice compliment!
WHAT PIECE OF CLOTHING ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I have to say I am very proud of the Marin Cowl Neck Base Layer. This was one of the first designs I created for Findra. I love Merino as a raw material especially all of the performance enhancing properties. Combining this with the seamless technology practical design features and stylish stripe details for me as a designer epitomises good design at its very best.
I have had many compliments about this design and sold many of them too! Receiving a Design & Innovation Award in January 2016 for this design however was a fantastic recognition on an international level that I had created something new, innovative and very practical. That makes me very proud!
Thank you for giving us such an insight into Findra’s fascinating back story.