ashmei confirm the Benefits of why they use Merino Wool in their Running Apparel.

Stuart Brooke explains why merino wool was the chosen performance fabric for the ashmei collection of performance running clothing.

Merino Wool is the choice of performance fibres for ashmei

http://www.ashmei.com/ was created because I found the performance of current running clothing was pretty low-tech. The majority of the running kit was of poor visual quality and performing to the same mediocre standards. I knew there were much better performance fabrics out there as I have been involved in the development of high end sportswear for some of the leading sports brands for the last 20 years. So I thought it was about time runners were introduced to some of these, not to mention that I also wanted some better gear for myself! Without a second thought I knew merino wool would play a major role in the development of ashmei running apparel. I have used merino wool on several high end products before and also had quite a collection of cycle, outdoor and ski gear that all use merino because of its superior performance.

Sourcing the merino wool was also pretty easy as I knew the quality and performance must be the best possible, so New Zealand & Austrailian was the only option, but I also knew we had the chance to spin to our own specification with regard to the grade and weight and could also manage the handle and feel of the fabric with different finishes.

Merino isn’t new, it’s been around for decades and was commonly used on performance climbing gear before the invention of synthetics as it was found to keep mountaineers warm and was very easy to wash and dry. Merino was used for expeditions and still is for this reason with most of the high performance sportswear in cycle, ski and outdoor using merino on their top end products because of its performance.

So why is merino so special?  Most people think it’s going to be itchy or just get you too hot, but they are confusing merino with other wool’s such as lamb’s wool. It’s true, some merino is itchy but not if you select the finest merino from NZ which has been developed by nature (sheep) to be one of the finest and also the strongest type in the world.

It’s true, merino wool does warm you up when you or the conditions are cold but it is the only yarn to also cool you down when you become too warm or the sun is shining. Most people don’t realise this and think of merino as a winter only product but I have been running in merino 12 months of the year for the last 2 years and don’t think twice about a midday run on a scorching summer’s day.

The other advantage with merino is it’s naturally antimicrobial. This means it never begins to smell like synthetics do as it won’t attract and breed bacteria, and it’s this bacteria that caused that nasty whiff that never washes out and will always come back, even if you use special soaps to combat this. It means you can wear merino wool for a long run, take your garment off, fold it up and put it back in your sports gear drawer ready for the next run without having to wash it.  If you wanted to, you could so this several times and the garment still won’t smell, however we do always recommend you wash them from time to time as remember the sweat is still dirty with body salts (apart from ladies who simply glow)!

So these are the two key performance statistics why we chose merino over typical cheaper polyester, but there are also some other key benefits that also confirmed our choice:

– Sustainable
– Biodegradable
– Quick drying
– Moisture Wicking
– 100% Natural

There is one issue with merino and that’s price. It’s dramatically more expensive than the cheap petrochemical polyester fabrics, however when you work out that your merino jersey has lasted you for years and years because it still smells as nice as the day you purchased it and it’s your favourite piece of gear because of it’s performance it actually becomes great value for money and strengthens the sustainability of it’s existence. If you don’t believe me, ask any merino sheep, they swear by the stuff and you never see them in polyester!

Stuart Brooke (founder) http://www.ashmei.com/

How to launch a sportswear brand?

Launching a sportswear brand should be built on core attributes that should then be translated to everything that brand touches. Blue Associates help launch many sportswear brands.

Want to launch a sportswear brand. Read here how we did this.

We launched our own performance running brand in 2011 after we found there was a gap in the market for quality, high performance and stylish running clothing. The market was drowning in identical product that looked awful, used inferior and budget performance fabrics and tried to make you look like you could run as fast as Usain Bolt.

The ashmei clothing is built in parallel with 3 words that also define the brand and what it stands for.

PERFORMANCE

QUALITY

STYLE

These 3 words MUST all feature in everything the brand now does. Producing clothing is our bread and butter (we do this everyday for the last 20 years) and working to these key elements are easy, however we now have to extend this into everything the brand now touches, be it Events, POS, Advertisement, Trade or Consumer Shows and even Social Media.

These 3 words now define our brand and everything anyone can see, hear or touch must be as coherent and “on brand”.

To give you an example, we wanted to be able to present the brand at consumer shows, marathons and events and we needed to make sure what we did was a massive improvement on our competitors efforts of a fold away table and branded gazebo. Whatever we did had to emit PERFORMANCE, QUALITY and be uber STYLISH. We wanted something that made a massive impact too and brought quality retail to a muddy race village and had to be large enough to present the whole range in a professional manor. There was really only one conclusion and that was to import a classic 1964 twin axle 26ft airstream trailer from the USA and restore and convert this into our own mobile POP UP shop and showroom.

The trailer took over 9 months to convert and features a small office area that converts into a double bed for overnight accommodation at race events, a log burner to warm the trailer through the winter, a satellite dish, a retractable LCD TV to show ashmei films and host presentations and a cappuccino machine. The rest of the trailer showcases the clothing via a bespoke shopfit made from riveted aluminum, solid oak, Italian alcantara seating and ashmei red perspex with LED backlighting.

The outside was polished to an inch of it’s life to restore the 1964 box fresh look when he was built and we added a massive hydraulic lifting door to one whole side of the trailer so people could see the inside and enter something much more open and airy.

To pull this huge mobile pop up we decided to purchase a vehicle that had similar pedigree to the airstream and followed the 3 words the brand was build on. There really was only one option and so we bought a 110 double cab pickup land rover.

We now turn up to events with a mirror finish, rare classic that converts into a luxury shopping experience, keeping runners warm, dry and watered (remember cappuccino machine) while they pick up some essential kit.