To catch you up to speed... We recently returned from wear-testing our new performance prototypes at "The Speed Project," a 340-mile race through the desert featuring 47 teams and 9 solo runners from around the world.
Wear-testing is an intensive research process where dozens of questions, critiques, and observations are recorded in order to drastically improve the end product (in this case, all of our performance prototypes) through a variety of minor—and sometimes major—adjustments.
1. A favorite singlet fabric was crowned (and one has a new role now... maybe)
We created the singlet in four very different fabrics, each one as quality as the next. The team genuinely loved all of them, but when push came to shove - a clear favorite rose to the top. The winning fabric struck the perfect balance between fit and ease, meaning you could feel it on you without it coming across too heavy or too light. It also stayed the most dry/dried the quickest. None of the fabrics were determined to cause any chafing or abrasion issues, nips rejoice. The racer style back of the singlet fell perfectly onto the body, so no change there. That being said, we did notice there was a little unnecessary/extra fabric under the arms and at the bottom of the singlet. We’ll be slightly tweaking the length and chest measurement to rectify that.
And in a turn of events, one of the singlet fabrics will now be made into a long-sleeve prototype. It was light and airy, which was nice to stay cool, but it wasn't substantial/sturdy enough for a singlet. "More of a long-run on a fall day vibe"... Shoutout to Evan for the idea.
2. Tie goes to the ethos for the shorts
The men’s and women’s split shorts were created in three different fabrics and the performance was a dead tie between them. The truth is, the hardest part of making a short is designing the brief (which was the same across all iterations). Fortunately, we nailed that out of the gate – there was no chafing or discomfort whatsoever. In fact, the athletes didn’t notice the brief was even there, which is exactly what you want. To break the tie, we turned to which fabric felt the most unique and on-brand. Two of the three felt fairly familiar to what already exists on the market (which isn’t a bad thing), but we’re more interested in creating newness. The fabric we’re moving forward with has a texture that provides a sense of fluidity, drapeyness, and richness. It’s subtle yet bold, which is exactly what the Bandit brand is. One of the tweaks we’re making is to where the split happens on the women’s short (it was a touch too forward).
3. The women's compression pieces ran a bit toiight
Excuse the pun. We tested three different compression fabrics and the story here is more Goldilocks-like: one was too thick, one was too cozy, and one was just right. The winning fabric feels invisible and secure at the same time. That being said, the pieces - specifically the women’s tops and 3” compression shorts, were a bit too small. We’re going to do another round of fit-testing, open them up in the right places, and make sure they’re supportive, not squeezing.
4. The men's half-tight was the star of the show
"I feel like I'm naked." -John... and Kam.
The half-tight, probably the trickiest fit of the items to get right, exceeded all expectations. The dual-tone fabric also supplied a super on-brand aesthetic that makes you look and feel fast. Much more to come on these soon.
5. Push the cropped singlets further
We designed five women’s tops across two different styles: sports bras (x2), and cropped singlets with built-in bras (x3). Each item was then made in three different fabrics, so 15 permutations total… That was a lot of numbers.
Of those three cropped singlets, only one of them was wear-tested at TSP (the other two are still making their way off the assembly line). It performed well, but if we're being honest, it didn't wow anyone from an aesthetic perspective. The other two coming out next week, and debuting at Boston, are more design-forward and unique. We're excited about them. Will report back.
6. The hard part is over
Finding fabrics that perform extraordinarily well under the most brutal conditions is no easy task. We started with conferences and binders full, and narrowed it down to a final 10 to test. Now we have identified the final three across tops, shorts, and compression (*crowd goes roar*). We’ve also finalized creating product silhouettes that are unique, on-brand, and functional. Now it's time to get creative with design and start having some fun...
Thanks for following along this prototyping journey with us! If you made it this far and are one of the first of three people to dm us “secret socks” on Instagram, we’ll send you a box of goodies. (All 3 have now been claimed.)