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Vancouver MTB Apparel

Behind the Brand: NF

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Mar 7, 2020
Reading time

How often have you thought to yourself; “this sucks, it could be heaps better if done another way?" For Travis Bothner and his wife Ying, a unique series of events led to them making the changes they wanted to see. The two are the power couple behind Vancouver-based rising MTB apparel star, NF. And while Travis has spearheaded numerous startups over the last 20 years, he has a different relationship with this one.

Together, Travis and Ying have worked in the apparel industry for more than 30 years. Their experience covers a wide range and between them, they possess many of the components necessary to build an apparel brand. In 2018 they did just that.

Their new apparel brand wasn't before first being thrown a series of curveballs. Between 2012 and 2017, their manufacturing company was developing up to one million units per year for other clothing brands. At the time, they had the manufacturing completed in China, Ying’s homeland. Her understanding of the language, practices, people and their combined knowledge of product development, materials and design, gave them an upper hand on many of their competitors. Business was booming.

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This space is a little quieter than it was in the past, at least it when the ladies are on break.

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Load up the material and start cutting patterns. This space got heaps of action since the factory changed to a production hub for Canadian-made garments.

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Travis checks on material downstairs.

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The upstairs office space is roomier now. Where there were upwards of 4 full-time staff members up here, now it's mostly owners, Travis and Ying who occupy the space.

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And of course, Willy, who greets everyone who comes upstairs.

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This is possibly the hardest worker at NF. He's here when everyone starts the day and continues staring into space when everyone leaves…

By 2016 the landscape changed and many large North American brands were moving their manufacturing to other parts of Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, to name a few. Before the change, Travis and Ying had established a prototyping facility in their Vancouver factory. Their goals were to attract more big brands with quick turnarounds on concepts and ideas. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t ideal and while the prototyping opportunities were great, many potential clients were no longer interested in working with the Chinese factories Travis and Ying had relationships with. To keep the lights on, the two flipped their prototyping facility into a fully self-sufficient production factory, forgoing Chinese manufacturing in most situations.

It paid off, as they discovered the “Made in Canada” label was sought after. Now, using their experience with Asian textile markets and the small, talented team in their Vancouver factory, they began seeing success again. Believe it or not, textiles is a competitive market in Vancouver and the “really old school” local competition owns their buildings and in most cases, paid for their machines decades ago. The old school crew have an advantage over the Bothner’s, who still lease machines and their building. Something else needed to be done and that brought forth the birth of Needs Factory.


Ying and I started contract off-shore manufacturing in China in 2006 and moved into this factory, tapering off the Made in China part of the business in 2016 – Travis Bothner, NF Founder
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NF gear in the new showroom. It's open to customers so if you can't find the gear at your L.B.S, feel free to drop in and say g'day to the team at H.Q.

Needs Factory, NF & ENNEF

Travis has for years been a fanatical rider and despite his busy schedule with work and family, he rides most days. He thrives on the sport and displays a youthful exuberance when discussing it. While chatting about bikes I was left standing in front of a frothing teenager in a grown man’s body. The stoke is real.

But he wasn’t pumped on the garments he was wearing while practicing his obsession. When NF was conceived in 2018, Travis had been working in the textile industry for 18 years. Like anyone with considerable time in a given field, his knowledge and expectations were both high. Trav’s career experience left him acutely aware of what's possible with MTB apparel and even more so, the issues with products at the time.

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Where it started for Travis. The first NF pant hangs as a reminder just behind his chair.

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Original Needs Factory branding but note the front of the pant legs (previous image) already made use of their NF logo currently being used.

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Patterns…

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The patterns are printed full size and are massive when rolled out flat.


I’ve been in the garment industry “rag trade” my whole life but started with my first brand about 20 years ago. – Travis Bothner, NF Founder

Riding pants, in particular, were a sore spot for Travis. Repeatedly needing to stop and adjust what he was wearing because the snap-buckle, or some other form of fastener, had loosened off became tiresome. He was also aware that adding all the bits and pieces – stuff like zips, velcro waist tabs, and gripper elastic – cost more despite none of them functioning well. Developing a pant that functioned as intended with simplified construction motivated Travis to start the brand but he knew NF needed to keep it simple to start. That meant kicking off with jerseys.

Developing their early jerseys was easy; design a logo, cut and then sew them utilizing the skills of his staff. But behind the scenes, Travis was developing his ultimate riding pants. His goal was to simplify things by removing the parts he was struggling with, the stuff he didn’t feel was necessary. It’s something he focused on from the early conceptual stages of the brand and the direction he wanted to take it was clear; only what’s needed, nothing that isn’t. Needs Factory was born. As it turns out, the philosophy has worked wonders and Travis points out the simple elastic waistband of their pants as a feature riders have been drawn to, a sentiment I echo after riding in a pair numerous times.

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Travis in his hub. It's here that he designs, answers customer emails, brainstorms new ideas, and a plethora of other tasks that he works on to make everything happen.

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"Things?"

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And behind him is his current bike love; a Pivot Firebird 29.

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Fitting mannequins and plenty of samples fill space upstairs as well.

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Upstairs also includes a photo studio where Travis gets to put his photography skills to work.

Unfortunately, a brand in the US with a similar name making trendy vintage clothing felt there was a conflict. The original Needs Factory label won’t be seen on products anymore but the meaning behind it remains. After receiving news of the conflict, Travis and Ying changed the brand name to NF. They'd already used a logo with the lettering so it made sense to continue this direction. In some instances they also use ENNEF, taking part of the legal business name; ENNEF Design Corp.

While simplicity in their garment designs is key, the small team and manufacturing facility where the products are made also influences this. Their talented team of seamstresses do an incredible job that Travis and Ying value greatly but their facility doesn’t have the same capabilities as the massive factories found in Asia. These limitations saw NF double down on the simplicity of their products and it allowed them to better manage the output and control quality, which for NF is equally important.

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The Shore and Whistler greet visitors to the Vancouver showroom.

Shore Influenced

NF is proudly Canadian and even more proud to be Vancouver made. The conditions of Coastal B.C. can wreak havoc on mountain bike products and NF sees this as a competitive advantage. Between their team of athletes and Trav’s riding, they’re able to develop products they feel will last anywhere. The Berzerker pant is the latest example and was designed for the shittest of shit conditions; picture 1-degree temperatures with a sloppy layer of snow and you’re on the right track. Alternatively, their popular Destroyer pant – the one that's caught the attention of many with its fit and elastic waist – can be worn on pedally rides during the damp winter months. Travis also wears it in the bike parks during the hotter summer months.

Needless to say, the influence of the North Shore has inspired NF to develop hard-wearing and capable products. Rugged like the Shore but technically advanced for comfort, without unnecessary bells and whistles.

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The full team minus two contractors and a couple who were away when I visited.

Small Team, Big Skills

NF consists of eight staff, all based in Vancouver, B.C. They use a contractor with 40 years experience to cut the garment patterns, a skill set not easy to come by, and another contractor to work on their patterns, which they develop themselves. The pattern maker uses technology that allows her to develop a 3D avatar to build the fit around, simplifying the process. Adjustments can be made virtually, based on the avatar, before the final cutting.

Five of eight NF staff are the all-important seamstresses. With NF in its infancy, staff continue manufacturing products for brands like Ecologist (formerly Sitka, a 100% Canadian made clothing label). Going 100% NF is the dream but the team creating the garments still spends approximately 50% of their time making products for other brands.

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Travis Bothner – Trav wears many hats including working on branding, graphic, web, and product design, product development, photography, and marketing. He runs the social media accounts, deals with customers via email and is the team manager

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Travis's wife, Ying Bothner, is the glue to the business and the connection with China. She takes care of accounting and finance, production management, supply chain management, shipping and logistics. She is the human resources department and even handles merchandising.

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Matt Furman is NF's first full-time staff member (the seamstresses, as well as Travis and Ying for that matter, also work on manufacturing for other brands). He takes care of the printing and pressing of logos and does whatever needs to be done, including bartacking garments.

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Applying the NF logo to garments is something Matt takes pride in. He prepares the logo files then presses them onto the item.

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Matt on the bartacking machine, adding some finishing touches to some new shorts for the NF stock shelf.

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Travis and Matt deep in conversation in the stock area. What do you think they're talking about?

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The ladies that work the floor each bring more than 20 years' experience to the team, something schooling can't provide.

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During my time at the factory, they rarely looked away from the task in front of them. They work fast and efficiently.

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There were four at work the day I visited but there are a total of six producing garments

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Travis informed me that the experience of the seamstresses can't be easily replaced. That experience translates to special customizations.

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The ladies specialize in specific areas, which generally sees them working from the same machine each day.

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Working on their machines, they develop techniques to make alignment easier with custom guides and other things going on, making them better at what they do.

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Like the pattern making, the cutter is a contractor held position. Operating these machines takes great skill and accuracy, as they cut through massive piles of material while following a pattern.

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After being cut, the fabric looks like this, ready to be sewn by the wonderful ladies working the sewing machines.

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After hours. The factory still looks busy even when nothing is going on.

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NF aren't gonna wait for things to fall in their lap…

The Future

Travis grapples with size and future direction during our discussion. One option is offshore manufacturing, enabling higher volume at a competitive price. Travis expects this would result in 75% of products being manufactured in Asia. If NF does go this direction, Travis still believes they would continue manufacturing marquee and experimental, or limited products in Vancouver; items like their hemp jersey and pant, or QuickStrike jerseys. But they're also happy to provide 100% Canadian-made apparel, even if it means supply lags behind demand. Being designed and developed at the footsteps of mountain biking’s version of Hollywood carries much appeal.

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Something to look forward to…

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Travis has been working on a jacket for a while now.

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But it hasn't passed his checks yet. At the moment it will be made in Canada though.

NF's future is to be determined, but Travis looks forward to manufacturing only NF products. He says doing that will increase their creative ability, satiating his innovative desires and firmly establishing NF apparel in the world of mountain bikes.

To learn more about the product range and the brand, or to purchase gear, head to the NF website.

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Comments

trumpstinyhands
0 James Vasilyev DanL Kelownakona Cooper Quinn Reed Holden Murdercrew Beau Miller Matt Bolton travis_the_tailor David Reid connell mrbrett Viss Bogey
trumpstinyhands  - March 5, 2020, 7:15 a.m.

It's weird because when you look at the article they come across as a great company (and I'm sure they are), but their marketing / on-line presence makes them seem 'super-bro'. A long list of athletes / ambassadors and not a single woman, and product names seemingly aimed at teenagers who might not be the ones spending well over $200 on a pair of pants. The clothing equivalent of a lifted F150 ;) In reality, everything about the company seems awesome so maybe lose the 'sausage-fest' image just a little? :D

Reply

travis_the_tailor
0 Ceo Geo rhw Beau Miller Kelownakona
travis_the_tailor  - March 5, 2020, 10:15 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

rnayel
0 rhw Kelownakona
RNAYEL  - March 5, 2020, 10:45 a.m.

It doesn't scream Vancouver like a GLS63 with a North Shore rack on the back.

Reply

RAHrider
-1 travis_the_tailor
Reed Holden  - March 5, 2020, 8:15 p.m.

Mine actually has a Nuat rack, thanks. And I get 100km on 8L of diesel. And it is super quiet and comfortable. Best $60,000 I ever spent, er am still spending for another year.

Reply

Timer
0
Timer  - March 6, 2020, 12:04 a.m.

And if you put a couple S-works on the rack they are worth more than the car.

Reply

ClintTrahan
+1 Brett Watkins Ceo Geo connell Viss travis_the_tailor Beau Miller Kelownakona Murdercrew Truleofthumb
ClintTrahan  - March 5, 2020, 10:39 a.m.

With respect - the brand is not yet two years old. The spending market is largely males, but there is certainly efforts being worked in to include woman as well. I know of at-least 5 women who ride NF gear. Last time I was in the shop, (on friday), two women came in from Squamish and bought pants. My wife, also rides NF pants and has been included in the NF social channels. To say NF is Super Bro is doing them a disservice. 

As for price point - quality counts. If you've ever tried the gear, or even touched it, you would understand.

SO, before you shit on local company trying to make a difference, do some homework rather than hiding anonymously and trolling.

Reply

Kelownakona
0 Cooper Quinn Timer Truleofthumb yingbothner connell Viss
Kelownakona  - March 5, 2020, 1:44 p.m.

I don't think he was criticising the price. Just because you know 5 while people who are female and buy pants there doesn't make his opinion about how the brand is marketed any less valid. Check their website out, he had a first point .

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+1 rhw
travis_the_tailor  - March 5, 2020, 1:53 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

david-reid
+9 Cam McRae Niels AJ Barlas travis_the_tailor Mammal Pete Roggeman Todd Hellinga Tremeer023 grambo
David Reid  - March 5, 2020, 3:27 p.m.

o.k I am biased.  But, my 12 year old son reached out to NF knowing that they had an ambassador program for trail builders.  My son is a pretty legitimate trail builder, if you have ridden in squamish/britannia you have probably ridden one of the trails.  NF put him on an ambassador deal.  As trail builders, this is the first time we have ever gotten anything.  As a result, I am super happy to support the brand, and stoked that they recognize the contributions of builders (most brands do not). On a side note, wifey has stolen his NF pants as she adores them.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+5 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Todd Hellinga Viss grambo
travis_the_tailor  - March 5, 2020, 3:38 p.m.

he's got more gear coming by the way. just hoping to drag you guys down to the factory for the tour haha. If not I'll bring it up. I know you Squamptonites hate the traffic!

Reply

LoamtoHome
+4 mike travis_the_tailor Pete Roggeman Tremeer023
Jerry Willows  - March 5, 2020, 4:25 p.m.

Power to the builders! No builders, no trails.

Reply

brian
0
Brian Goldstone  - March 5, 2020, 7:29 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

brian
+5 David Reid AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Todd Hellinga grambo
Brian Goldstone  - March 5, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

" As trail builders, this is the first time we have ever gotten anything. As a result, I am super happy to support the brand, and stoked that they recognize the contributions of builders (most brands do not)."

well except for the original 7mesh jacket you, Ted T and Gary McFarlane all got from them for the work you've all done on Squamish trails.

Reply

david-reid
+2 Pete Roggeman grambo
David Reid  - March 5, 2020, 7:48 p.m.

Doh!

I wore that 7mesh jacket in the monsoon today.  Thanks 7mesh!

Murdercrew
-1 Truleofthumb Beau Miller stephen Taylor Pete Roggeman Viss travis_the_tailor william bailey
Murdercrew  - March 6, 2020, 10:58 a.m.

This company gets way more credit than they deserve. They should be supporting people who are deserving and hard working , not your whole bro posse from Vancouver.

Reply

morgan-heater
+2 Kelownakona Mammal mrbrett Beau Miller
Morgan Heater  - March 5, 2020, 11:14 a.m.

Doesn't seem particularly brosephy compared to brands like Transition.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+5 Pete Roggeman JVP Viss Tremeer023 william bailey
travis_the_tailor  - March 5, 2020, 2:36 p.m.

We'll make another attempt at women's gear once we are able to hire more staff to help with marketing, design and customer service. But we do have sponsored women riders/ambassadors now and will surely support more as the brand grows. Not sure what the jab about the F150 is all about but whatever. The brand may be a bit 'sausage-fest' right now but I'd say we are doing okay for being just under two years old. What is it that you do?

Reply

Brocklanders
+1 travis_the_tailor
yahs  - March 5, 2020, 4:55 p.m.

Stuff looks good, will check it out at some point.

Hope it all works out for you guys, keep on trucking.

Reply

connell
+4 travis_the_tailor Mammal mrbrett Pete Roggeman
connell  - March 5, 2020, 5:10 p.m.

New brands have to start somewhere and so, while in an ideal world they would have dedicated male and female lines from the off, it is understandable if NF’s website currently has a bias toward the demographic that they are currently creating products for (I mean male riders that is, not “Bros”). From the 2 pieces of NF gear that I own, it is clear that the R&D that goes into each piece is not insignificant, and their more limited line of products seems to reflect a dedication to quality over quantity.

I bought my NF gear at the factory store and it was Travis that helped me out. He was very friendly and was super helpful and honest with the advice he gave me on which gear would work best for me. The word “bro” never came to mind while I was at the store anyway, that’s for sure!

And as for the comment about the names being aimed at teenagers…I don’t know many teenagers who would appreciate the “Dan Merino” named jerseys!

Reply

TheBikeDads.com
+5 travis_the_tailor Mammal mrbrett Pete Roggeman william bailey
TheBikeDads.com  - March 5, 2020, 6:10 p.m.

Travis and his team are awesome. They  are incredibly hard working and honest, trying to do things differently. Like paying people an honest wage and treating people fairly. When you go into their factory you hear the ladies sewing your gear laughing away and smiling with passion for what they do. The gear fits well and stands up to 4 season abuse. 

I’m a totally bro too. Covered in kid puke, anyone need a diaper wipe?

Try the gear and you’ll find out why all the “seasoned” riders are riding in it and loving it. 

-Jack

Reply

Sdfghjjftugxvhj
0
stephen Taylor  - May 1, 2020, 12:18 a.m.

They are all sponsored or BA's

Reply

1994canucks
+2 rhw Stephen Norman grambo Kelownakona
Brett Watkins  - March 5, 2020, 11:33 a.m.

I’d say the brand is closer to a Reliable supercharged WRX. Not a lifted f150

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+2 Kelownakona travis_the_tailor
Pete Roggeman  - March 5, 2020, 12:57 p.m.

Last time I was there I think I saw both types of vehicle in the parking lot!

Reply

dan_l
+2 rhw taprider Pete Roggeman Kelownakona
dan_l  - March 5, 2020, 1:13 p.m.

Supercharged? Do you even cars bro?

Reply

xy9ine
+5 rhw AJ Barlas twk Pete Roggeman Tremeer023
Perry Schebel  - March 5, 2020, 1:59 p.m.

oh hell yeah. 

Reply

taprider
+1 Pete Roggeman
taprider  - March 5, 2020, 2:24 p.m.

that looks like both turbo and super charged (best of both worlds)

Reply

xy9ine
+1 AJ Barlas
Perry Schebel  - March 5, 2020, 3:05 p.m.

yep. 600hp worth.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Pete Roggeman
AJ Barlas  - March 5, 2020, 9:04 p.m.

Do you know who's it is, Perry?

bailey100
+2 rhw Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Kelownakona
william bailey  - March 5, 2020, 1:09 p.m.

I have a lifted F150.

I kind of like it ...

Sorry ?

Reply

connell
0
connell  - March 5, 2020, 5:09 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

T-mack
+7 connell travis_the_tailor mrbrett Pete Roggeman shapethings Viss william bailey
T-mack  - March 5, 2020, 8:20 p.m.

I can't believe I'm reading any negative comments about the brand, honestly. I have a pair of their Destroyer shorts I bought at the sample sale last year and they kick the shit out of my Sombrio and TLD shorts as far as quality is concerned. Complaining about the price? Whoever complains about the price is out of their damn minds. I actually saw a pair of TLD/Adidas pants for sale for over $300 and they aren't even made here! Plus they're made of paper! How is that acceptable is beyond me. Whatever your thoughts are on the brands marketing is your opinion but I feel like we should all embrace these local brands and support them as best we can.

Reply

RAHrider
-8 Murdercrew connell Lev travis_the_tailor Mammal Nouseforaname Bogey Viss grambo william bailey
Reed Holden  - March 5, 2020, 8:33 p.m.

Sorry Dudes, it is a different world we live in. Travis may not agree with the perspectives on his company but he should understand that people will see his company from all sorts of perspectives. For instance, I noticed right away that the article referred to the co-owners as "Travis Bothner and his partner Ying." I instantly thought, what is Ying's last name? Why didn't they mention it? She seems pretty important to the company - I would have expected equity in how the people were introduced. I know it seems picky but women's contributions have been disregarded forever so this type of nuance can be a sore spot for some.

The optics for this article and his website are that there is a team of women sewing clothes for men to recreate in. If you think about it, the fact that you have an all female crew sewing these clothes and they don't even make a single item specifically for women is bad optics? In this day and age - that is the definition of a sausage fest. To say that 5 women make do and use the men's clothes is not equality. Travis is putting his product out there and will catch criticism and kudos, you can't accept the kudos without also accepting the criticism. Good on Trumpstinyhands for seeing this a commenting on it without starting a flame war.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 travis_the_tailor william bailey
AJ Barlas  - March 5, 2020, 9:08 p.m.

Ying is Trav's wife, as in life-partner. The next sentence mentioned they're the "power couple" but I can see how that can be misconstrued as well so I updated "partner" to clearly state that Ying is his wife. In Trav's words, she's the boss there.

Reply

RAHrider
-1 Cooper Quinn Nouseforaname Bogey
Reed Holden  - March 5, 2020, 9:24 p.m.

Yeah I figured it out. I'm just pointing out how little things can get seen  differently than we expect them to be.

I realize that the company is two years old and working at viability but others are going to see their focus as excluding or not being interested in women riders. If I was a woman, I would read the article as "wow, amazing company making amazing clothing but not for me." If I was running the company and someone pointed this out, I would accept the criticism, acknowledge that it is a huge gap and then speak to how it is being rectified.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+5 Nouseforaname Niels Viss Pete Roggeman william bailey
travis_the_tailor  - March 6, 2020, 6:40 a.m.

Ying and I own and have owned the business Syte Industries for 14 years. NF started as my pet side project that grew very quickly needing me to pull Ying in for administrative duties. Those ladies are the best machine operators in the business and gender was not a deciding factor when hiring them. We cater to men mainly because globally men make up 95% of the mountain bikers out there. And for what it’s worth we did develop a women’s range early in the second year but realized we were not ready so we put it on hold. I explained this a couple of times in the comments, may have deleted once or twice due to redundancy. We support women with gear and will continue to grow that side as we grow. Women are definitely allowed and very welcome. PS I ain’t mad - just answering questions and clarifying things.

Reply

Viss
+3 Deniz Merdano grambo william bailey
Viss  - March 6, 2020, 3:52 p.m.

Don’t be like this Reed. I was just in there today with my daughters and Travis spent more time playing with them and his dog than the males in the group. Your ideas are unfounded and add nothing to this article but reflect more upon your own mental state. The gear is awesome.

Reply

RAHrider
-3 Bogey travis_the_tailor grambo
Reed Holden  - March 6, 2020, 7:59 p.m.

I realize that the point of view I am putting forward is not going to be popular among a group of men who just want to enjoy their rad gear. Trumpstinyhands suggested Travis lose the bro vibe and maybe include a woman on his website. I thought this was reasonable. Show any "woke" person the site and they will come to the same conclusion. Don't shoot the messenger for giving another perspective on a situation. Thanks Travis for putting forward your earnest intention to include women in the products you make. It goes a long way. My wife would be the first to lay down top dollar for quality gear but I guarantee you that she wouldn't just buy mens gear from a company that doesn't make women's. 

Viss, you say your daughters had a great time at NF today. I assume they are young, when they are older and ready to buy some gear to shred in would you want companies to make gear for them or just tell them the men's stuff should be good enough for a girl? 

Hopefully Travis will continue on his success and by the time they want to buy some NF gear, it will be made in their size. Now that I know Travis is trying to include women in his business plan, I would be more happy to support him getting there. Unfortunately, his website doesn't disclose any interest in the women's market, which is why all this was brought up on the first place. Even just a women's tab that takes you to a webpage saying how its in development would be an improvement. 

None of this was written to conclude Travis or NF are against women. I assume Travis is an alright guy based on everything written. But if people can't see how neglecting women entirely from your website could be seen negatively, I don't know what I can tell you.

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Viss
+3 Bogey grambo william bailey
Viss  - March 6, 2020, 8:34 p.m.

As a guy who builds and sells multi-million dollar businesses I would say that I am perfectly happy with how they are operating this company at this stage and your political correctness  is a dog barking at something it refuses to understand.

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Sdfghjjftugxvhj
0
stephen Taylor  - May 1, 2020, 12:24 a.m.

the epitome of a west coast gobshite

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davetolnai
+5 Viss Niels shapethings Metacomet Bogey
Dave Tolnai  - March 6, 2020, 7:25 p.m.

You realize you're criticizing the values of a company based on the way an article was written about them, right?  I totally get what you are saying here, but I don't think you can hold the company responsible for the tone or language contained in an article about them.

I'm ashamed to admit that I knew of NF but I didn't know much about them.  I had my first look at the website today and I was expecting the worst, but I don't really see where all this "bro" criticism is coming from.  I had a look around, but I couldn't see anything offensive, even when I squinted.  If you have an example, I'd love to see it.

I hear what you're saying, but are you honestly calling out a young clothing company with a limited clothing line for only producing men's/unisex clothing?  I'm 100% on board with our sport needing more gender diversity, I just don't think this is the right place to demand perfection.  This is an 8-person company trying to get a foothold in the industry and that is a different standard than we should expect from a company like Specialized (just pulling a large company name out of thin air, not trying to suggest anything).

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Viss
Pete Roggeman  - March 9, 2020, 9:29 a.m.

What we're seeing here is a bit of a socially-fueled culture clash.

If anything, I think NF is suffering a bit from their blinding early success with product, which has been echoed by their social media presence and the fact that some of the athletes they're supporting have garnered a lot of attention in a short amount of time, at least in certain circles like Instagram. This kind of attention usually attracts a backlash, whether fueled by jealousy, envy, or other. And I'm not proud to say that the sea-to-sky MTB community can be pretty fickle and sets upon its own rather quickly.

Further, those athletes happen to be hard-charging riders that are young, male, and project a bit of a macho vibe. The ones I've met or interacted with are universally friendly - no surprise since I've also met Travis and Ying and the rest of the crew and know that they're friendly people doing their best to keep up with unrelenting demand for their product while building a business in uncertain times in the middle of a city with exorbitant lease costs. On top of this, their website is much better put together than you'd normally see for a company so small and young. Altogether it projects an image of being far more established and larger than NF actually is at this point, and that brings expectations, whether altogether fair or not.

On the other hand, while Reed and trumpstiny and others have opinions that must be respected, they're also a product of our current culture, which sees a lot of people react to things they see based on an ethos of criticism first, and a lack of desire or ability to evoke much in the way of benefit of the doubt, which is, in my opinion, one of the key tenets to mutually respectful relationships whether it's a marriage, friendship, or in business.

Are their criticisms fair? Through a certain lens, yes, I guess they are. Are they well-informed? No, I would say they are not. But I've been lucky enough to meet the players and of course, our readers all haven't - so perhaps some of that falls on us as the ones bringing the story. continued...

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 travis_the_tailor
Pete Roggeman  - March 9, 2020, 9:30 a.m.

continued here...

The fact is, though, that if you think that a company sewing high-quality apparel by hand in Vancouver is going to be able to come out with parallel lines of apparel inside of two years, you just may not appreciate how difficult it is to start and grow a business like this that will last. Should every company be expected to make products for men and women and be condemned if they don't? Would any of this criticism have occurred if NF just said 'we make MTB clothes for men, and hopefully women too, in the future'? I don't know. Travis' point about the market being predominantly male is correct, although his number - 95% - is not. Our readership is 89-92% male, depending on the month. We're not proud of that. I haven't counted recently while out riding but I'd guess the proportion is closer to 80/20 many days, sometimes reaching up to 65/35. There's no question that many more women are riding. There's no question that's great news for this industry. There's no question the female market is underserved and women and minorities are under-represented in all kinds of ways. I do question, though, as Dave did above, whether this is an appropriate - maybe a better word is 'fair' way to point that out in this case.

But for Travis, Ying, and NF, I suppose the lesson is that even young companies will be subject to that kind of criticism - whether fair or not - and it's an opportunity to learn from that and adjust as they move along.

Reed and trumsptiny, I appreciate that you voiced your opinions in a reasonable manner and had the backbone to reply to commenters that didn't agree without getting inflammatory. For yourselves and others reading, I would simply ask that you consider a few things: 

1) are you holding other companies you read about or support to account in the same fashion, keeping in mind that NF is less than two years old and has already shown a level of transparency that exists in less than 5% of companies in our industry? 

2) do you expect that the other mtb apparel you own was sewn under equally humane conditions by people earning enough to sustain a decent quality of life? It's possible, hopefully probable, but do you know?

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RAHrider
-2 Viss travis_the_tailor
Reed Holden  - March 9, 2020, 1:13 p.m.

Thanks for the thoughtful response Pete. Everyone including yourself points out that the company is so small and new and it is prohibitive to make a women's fit of their clothing. You disagree with Travis's take that women only make up 5% of the MTB community and I would agree. At any trailhead it is closer to 20-40% of the MTB population. If we are going to say that women are too small a portion of the MTB population to make clothing for, then Travis should stop making XS and XL sizes as well as those two are also a minority.

To answer your questions specifically;

1) I think about everything in these terms. I work in a field that is highly scrutinized. You can't survive in it unless you can see things from different perspectives. I am not saying it is fair to hold Travis's feet to the fire and not other similar companies but I also  don't think that is what was said. It was pointed out that his website does not have a single mention of Women anywhere. If I was a female rider and had heard about how awesome NF gear was and then visited the website, I would assume that the company didn't give a hoot about my patronage. This is what was suggested, consider a perspective other than the majority of riders (i.e. men). If he has female ambassadors, put them on the site. Maybe talk about your commitment to this under-served segment of the MTB population and what you are doing to try to make great products for them.

2) I spend more to get products made in Europe or North America. My bike clothes are largely made in Italy or another similar European country (Castelli or Ale). Both companies make just about every product in Men's and Women's as well.

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travis_the_tailor
0 Viss Reed Holden
travis_the_tailor  - March 9, 2020, 8:35 p.m.

you don't know what you are talking about, that is just my opinion.

travis_the_tailor
0 AJ Barlas Reed Holden
travis_the_tailor  - March 9, 2020, 8:58 p.m.

FWIW I did say "globally" - regionally it changes.

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jclaremt
+3 travis_the_tailor Pete Roggeman Viss
jclaremt  - March 5, 2020, 8:45 p.m.

Looks like cool gear that’s well designed. I’ll definitely check them out for my next purchase.

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shapethings
+2 travis_the_tailor Pete Roggeman
shapethings  - March 5, 2020, 11:22 p.m.

I just bought a pair of the destroyer pants and love them. Fit, performance and comfort are great. Feel really well made. 

Less than $30 more than the "big mtb brand" pants I was cross shopping them with, and those are probably made in some exploitive authoritarian country lacking in free speech or enforced environmental laws. 

FWIW, I am a hybrid driving, tree-hugging super lefty anti-bro and don't feel out of place wearing them.

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lev
+3 Pete Roggeman JVP Niels
Lev  - March 6, 2020, 2:28 a.m.

I hope you asked the Tree's permission first!!??

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Lev
Pete Roggeman  - March 6, 2020, 12:13 p.m.

In this day and age, this is bang-on irony and humour wrapped in one, IMO.

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shapethings
+2 Lev Pete Roggeman
shapethings  - March 6, 2020, 12:49 p.m.

Was waiting for the #TreeToo movement to catch up to me. My days of unenlightened and insensitive tree harassment are over.

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danimaniac
0
danimaniac  - March 6, 2020, 12:56 a.m.

as the NF site containing shipping information seems broken.. do you ship to europe/germany? @travis

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travis_the_tailor
+1 Niels
travis_the_tailor  - March 6, 2020, 6:44 a.m.

We do, yes. However, we don’t cover the VAT, duties, or any possible brokerage on the European side. That said, we haven’t had any complaints. 👍🏻

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blackbird
+2 Stephen Norman Pete Roggeman
tw  - March 6, 2020, 8:05 a.m.

Travis, when will you guys have the merino t’s back in? Love to try one. My old Rab meco 120 is probably the best riding shirt I’ve ever had...but they redesigned it a couple years ago :( and looking for alternatives. 

Look forward to stopping by. 

tw

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travis_the_tailor
0
travis_the_tailor  - March 8, 2020, 8:42 p.m.

Sorry for the late reply on this one. Ying told me to stay out of the comments! We’ll be stocked up again later this month or early April.

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jitenshakun
0
Jitensha Kun  - March 10, 2020, 12:19 p.m.

Are the sleeves long and the torso slim fitting?  You know, for a cyclist that reaches for their handlebars and doesn't have a gut because of all the pedalling.

The FB29 in the pictures makes me think someone there has some positive ape index....

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CedarTreeFacePlant
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CedarTreeFacePlant  - March 10, 2020, 4:23 p.m.

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CedarTreeFacePlant  - March 10, 2020, 4:23 p.m.

Such awesome pictures!!!!!! Came out really great! Thanks again for the hard work and time you put into this! 

Matt

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grambo
0
grambo  - March 13, 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Pant design looks good, have not worn riding pants before for some of the reasons outlined above (fit mostly, stubby/big legs here). Have been thinking about checking out NF and knowing the company story I am more motivated now... factory is 7 min from my house in Mount Pleasant so I'll drop by some time!

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