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It's been a long hard road. But we made it.

It's been a long hard road. But we made it.

From the very first fitting sessions, consultations and presentations through to wear testing, feedback (good and bad!) and iterating over and over again. We've now launched our first collection. It’s here. You helped us shape it, we love it, and we think you’re going to love it too.

The idea

We'd always had problems with menswear. As rugby and fitness fanatics, our body shape is not the same as what the fashion industry defines as the 'average' and this doesn't help us every time we want to wear something that isn't technical or athleisure gear.

For years we'd faced this issue and thought nothing more of it beyond a brief frustration, falling back onto what was available – usually older, well worn shirts or jeans that fit pretty well but had long since been discontinued (another common problem) making do with clothes that fit in some places but not in others.

the-idea

Ultimately we realised that the only way to try and make this better not only for us but also for the tens of thousands of other men experiencing the exact same issue was to do it ourselves. Why is it that we train hard, eat well, stay fit and healthy yet we get penalised?

 

"If you want a thing done well, do it yourself."

Napoléon Bonaparte 1769-1821



Collaboration

We needed to start reaching out to a wider audience to understand if they shared the same frustrations and experiences as we did. We started talking to friends, industry contacts, teams, players, PTs... anyone we could think of that might help us begin to understand and shape what we were going to do next. If we didn't take the time to understand the problem then the outcome would most likely miss the mark. And what would be the point of that?

A chance meeting

It was during this process that we connected with the most important member of our team. We'd been in contact with Alex Marks of On Your Marks, a PT studio in Clapham, when he mentioned that one of his clients, Fred Willems, had a background in the fashion industry. It turned out that his client didn't just have a fashion background, but had just finished up working as head of design for Thomas Pink, and had recently been working with the Lions prototyping, designing and tailoring formal and informal menswear for the staff and squad to wear throughout the 2017, and previously 2013, tours.

This sounded like the perfect opportunity for what was still a very early concept. We had what we thought could be a strong idea, but we needed to collaborate with someone from the fashion industry to really understand where to start – or even better, to join us in creating products that could really make a difference. We're pleased to say that Fred joined us on the journey and he continues to be the driving force behind our first collection and future product vision.

Taking the next step

As part of our research and refinement we started to build important relationships with people excited and passionate about the idea. We collaborated with like minded people from the health, fitness and sport industries to help develop our approach, gaining a deeper understanding of the athletic body shape and identifying what they, and we, really wanted from our menswear.

"No-one seems to understand my body shape."

"It’s less hassle to just wear loose fitting stuff; joggers, t-shirts, gym wear. I’ve given up trying."

"The only options are to go skin-tight, or baggy and boxy."


We analysed the athletic physique in detail, prototyping, iterating testing – studying as many body shapes as possible then combining the learnings with our experience of designing clothing at the sharp end of the menswear industry.

prototyping the fit



Challenges

It's not been an easy journey to get to where we are today. As a startup business in the fashion industry there are many hurdles to be cleared, relationships to be built with factories and suppliers alongside going through the intensive process of finding the right materials and someone to execute our product vision in the right way. It took us significant time and effort to find someone that could match our standards, and we now have established a strong relationship with one of the leading garment factories in Portugal who supply to some of the worlds leading menswear brands.

After several rounds of fit and material testing we finally settled on natural, rather than synthetic stretch. We had started with synthetics, but often even adding 1% of give into the materials left the garments too stretchy, and starting to look and feel more like technical wear. Our central concept of 'Freedom of Movement' means our clothes are designed to respect and compliment the body, rather than constrict. Comfortable, tailored and stylish – not elastic, synthetic or skin tight.



Perseverance

Heading into 2020, we were just getting momentum going again having finally secured a reliable supplier when COVID hit. Like for so many people and businesses, it turned our world upside down. The factories closed, meetings stopped and at times we wondered whether we'd reached the end of the road. But, we kept going. More time at home meant more time to re-evaluate, challenge our own ideas and keep things moving. We kept fit testing going via post and zoom, continued developing the final prototypes remotely with our supplier in Portugal. And when things opened up again, despite all the uncertainty, delays and lost time we were ready to go.



Reward

It's been a tough journey but we've met some brilliant people, been helped by so many and the reward is the brand and products that you see here today. Our first collection of menswear wardrobe staples, desgined specifically for athletic physiques. We're proud of our journey, our brand and our products and we can't wait to see what the future holds for Hale Clothing.

Thanks to all of you that have helped us get here.

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