How to launch a sportswear brand

I established Blue Associates in 1997 as a design and sourcing consultancy working with blue chip sportswear brand, developing some of the highest performance sportswear in the world for them.

We have worked with many of the elite performance brands within Outdoor, Cycle, Marine, Golf and Ski and have watched our products win our clients “Best Product” and sometimes “Best Sportswear Brand”.

We have also worked with many start up brands, helping them evolve their concept into reality and now watching them enjoy the success of hard work, quality product and a great concept.

In 2009, I got into running as a quick and simple way to keep fit that could be squeezed into a busy schedule and something that could be done anywhere in the world with very little equipment.

My passion for product meant I quickly acquired a massive collection of specific running kit from the typical running brands and running became my escape from work, usually finding time for a midday run three times a week to clear the head and work out life’s troubles.

One day I came back from a typical run and looked in the mirror before my post run shower and noticed that the only running gear I was actually wearing were running shorts and trainers. My shirt was a merino jersey I use as a baselayer when I snowboard and my socks were merino too from my downhill cycle days. I realised this was wrong and started to research the running market to try and find running gear that had similar high performance I was used to when I snowboard and cycle.

I was amazed to find that nothing really existed and was bemused at the way all of the running brands seemed to follow an identical formula of product development and strategy. I found that all of the gear used almost identical fabrics, colours, styling and therefore price points. My research concluded in the running department of Paragon sports in NYC where I wondered if I covered all of the logos up and invited the brand managers from each respective running apparel brand to come and identify their products, if they could actually do this.

At this point I knew there was a gap in the market for a higher level of performance gear with a completely different look to the establishment. I spoke to several retailers and journalists about this concept, nearly all of them saying this was a great idea but make sure the clothing was not any more expensive as runners don’t spend money on their kit.

I didn’t believe this, as running shoes are a big investment with gels and hydration also add up. I also believed runners were prepared to trade up but have not been given the opportunity to do so as nothing currently existed. I also knew we could not improve performance and quality without using more expensive materials and manufacturing craft which would in turn increase the cost and therefore retail price.

Our strategy was simple and one we have used for some of our blue chip clients when we develop their best clothing – Don’t compromise on quality, performance, features and style, ignore the cost of the product until we get the product right.

This strategy has resulted in the launch styles winning “Best in Test” over and over again and “Best Brand” several times by gear reviewers and specialist running press.

The range is developing fast with a much larger product offering being launched this year and a women’s specific range that will be the same size as the men’s range by the end of this year.

So there you have it. That’s why we started ashmei and some background to our pedigree on the design and development of sportswear. We have established a great following of loyal customers who come back time and time again to order the new product as soon as we launch them which is a great compliment to our vision and we thank you very much for this support.

I hope you enjoy the gear and we are very interested in your views, comments and opinions that we will digest and use to develop the brand and the product to maintain our position of being “The finest performance running clothes in the world”


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