Designed by Women for Women; the launch of Rooster's female range
2018 saw the launch of our Women’s specific range, through a complete neoprene selection to complement our Unisex offering. At this time, we knew there was an issue for well fitting, comfortable gear specifically designed for women, but I don’t think we fully predicted the scope of the issue.
The main aim through the range was to encourage female participation on the water, and to empower confidence and accessibility to the freedom of what watersports bring, with a particular focus on sailing.
Through the development stage, we worked closely with a local group of women, the majority from Felpham’s brilliant Women on Water initiative. It was through this, that the scope of the issue really came to light. This project then became not just about designing another range of neoprene, but it was more about the opportunity to design something that could really help women to get out with confidence in what they are wearing and feel good in it, whilst also having all the technical details to be able to perform to the highest level for dinghy sailing.
Some really fundamental and interesting issues arose through our focus group meetings:
- The focus group highlighted that if they felt good, then they were more inclined to participate more often. Kit that removes this barrier must be a real positive for the future of our sport.
- Some of them had little knowledge of what they should be wearing and more importantly why.
- Poorly fitting kit works against the female form, hindering performance and ultimate enjoyment.
We spoke to so many women in the sport that took the attitude like 'I just wear my son's old stuff – it doesn't really matter'. It was like they had somehow lost sight of their own value, which we thought is important to address.
One of the main challenges through the design process was to result in a product that would suit the majority of women – at the end of the day what is a ‘normal’ female shape?! We all know there is no ‘one size fits all’ for women, so we really tried to tackle this. The fitting stages in the development were very much, ‘let’s try to get as many different women, age and size as we can get to try the fitting samples on and make sure the samples can fit to everyone’. This approach, although timely did work well to get a great idea of what would work best. Some great hacks we developed off the back of our research and fitting sessions were:
- A racerback fit meant that it could fit to different chest and shoulder sizes quite universally.
- Long front zipper entry meant it easy to get into for a range of hip sizes.
- Using super soft and stretchy materials used throughout the range meant that the styles could stretch well over different shapes.
- Flattering panel layout and colours to reflect them.
The focus had equal emphasis on performance, just as much as it did comfort, as Rooster specialises on technical gear, and this range was no exception.
The Rooster women’s collection continues to develop and evolve, and through great feedback we have been able to keep it growing to tackle more issues. Another key development was the launch of the women’s crop top and sports shorts in 2020. These were developed working with Junior class associations in order to provide young girls transitioning into women to have a solution for underwear for under a wetsuit that would be supportive, non-sexualised and reflected on the advice that is given out for measures to take when on their period.
Since the launch of these ranges, we have seen the demand for women’s gear increase exponentially, where it has been humbling to see women come forward and thank us for providing them with a comfortable range that they could wear with confidence.
We now have alternatives to many of the unisex collection items, with an aim to close this gap even further moving into the future.