Insight Update

Craft – the Scandinavian brand taking a big step in the UK

Paul Varney, Craft commercial sales agent, talks to Mark Hayhurst about the multi-sport brand and it’s expanding running footwear collection.

Craft is a major European brand, originally known for their base layers it has diversified into different areas of sportswear and is now making a name for itself in the UK.

In 1973 inventor, Anders Bengtsson went out for a run outside his home in Borås, Sweden, with a set of new underwear, he had designed. Post-workout, he tested his design by measuring the moisture content in his underwear. After years of designing, testing and creating, he had found the perfect base layer for optimal body temperature management.

Borås, anchored in a tradition of handicraft, knitting factories and an entrepreneurial spirit, was the perfect playground for Craft. Four decades later, they continue to design, develop and manufacture cutting-edge apparel and accessories for world champions and everyday heroes across the globe.

Paul said: “Yes, Craft started off as a base layer, but it has moved out into various other kind of areas of clothing such as running and cycling.

“Craft is now a multi-sport brand with its roots very much in Scandinavia. Its home is still in Borås, which has the number one fashion university in Europe. Craft’s offices are near the fabulous campus and people come from all over Europe to study there.”

In Europe the Craft brand is extremely well known, producing football kit, racquet sports, run, bike and team sports. However, in the UK, Craft is seen more as a specialist niche brand and that is something that Paul is aiming to change.

He said: “I think that base layers are quite a new thing to the UK in general. People used to go out jogging or running and just put on a pair of shorts and a top but it has now become a bit more technical.

“It also very much depends on the industry. Base layers have massive value in bike but it has been difficult to educate people about the value for running. I would also say we are are one of the very few companies in the world that sells as many base layers for hot weather as we do for cold.

“We have an item called CoolMax Supalite which you can wear on the hottest days. It’s the strangest thing, I’ve put two layers of clothing on cycling when it’s crazily hot. The bottom layer manages moisture, it pulls it out to a big, big area and dries super, super quick. The first time I started wearing them, I did the coast to coast on the bike. And this was the perfect example in the summer, you’re doing a long climb, you’re pouring with sweat, you’re wet through and then long descents but after you get to the bottom, you’re completely dry.

“We produce base layers for all weather conditions from plus 30 to minus 30 and everything in between. So, it’s a huge collection, usually in the winter, about 12 to 14 different collections of base layer in Sanadinavia.

“Whereas over here, we probably have four to five good selling collections, we don’t really need the extreme concepts.”

Craft CTM Ultra Carbon 2 Men 3

But, as Paul, has pointed out it’s not all base layers. Craft produces run and bike apparel but has also moved into footwear with a range of running and endurance shoes.

He said: “The footwear market is difficult to crack with so many brands out there. So, you need to be a little bit different and have a bit of luck, as well as being technically advanced.
“The first thing that changed for us was our global partnership with Spartan and now Tough Mudder. So, UK, we work very closely with Tough Mudder. We developed a shoe for them, it’s a trail shoe but it was designed specifically for obstacle course races.

“We produced 12,000 branded shoes for Spartan, they came specifically with grip through the centre of the chute, so it would help you climb up ropes. It’s got drainage ports because you were going to get wet and muddy and needed the shoe to drain as much as it needed to grip.”

Craft Pro Endur Distance

That was the first step into the shoe market for Craft but more was to come. They entered a collaboration with inspirational ultra-runner Tommy Rivs to develop endurance running shoes.

Paul said: “I think that was a turning point for us. We developed various shoes directly with Tommy. At that time, he was doing various big ultra runs and won the Boston Marathon. He’s very well known in that that sort of circle. So, we were the first company that came to market with number one, a carbon soleplate shoe that had got grip. We put grip on the outside of the shoe, we put endurance into it, and launched the CTM Ultra Carbon. We were testing these shoes six to eight hundred miles and still getting full performance.

“And the other thing, which, you know, we always say we all need a little bit of a luck was how it looked. It came to market in battleship camo and raised a tonne of interest. The press and magazines wanted to take a picture of it, they wanted to test and we were inundated with gear testers magazines.

“So, from there we started building the trial collection and carbon collection.”

But Craft aren’t resting on their laurels but are continuing to develop their line.

Paul added: “We have a new foam coming out for 2023 which is made with a non-toxic process and is fully recyclable and a new carbon soleplate. It’s going to be very exciting and an industry first.”

As a Scandinavian brand, sustainability is at the heart of the brand and going forward it is going to play an even bigger part in the company’s future.

Paul said: “Becoming carbon neutral is a major focus. The company has employed someone who purely looks after the eco side of the business. One major step that we’ve taken is something called the Craft Circle, which speaks to the quality of our garments. Our base layers will have a lifetime guarantee and that starts winter this year, and something we will heavily promote.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button