One morning, after talking to Ashley Rankin about her background in the fashion industry, I Googled designer Enrico Coveri. Hey-oh! Images of bare-chested male models wearing itty-bitty patterned board shorts penetrated my computer screen. It’s not that I was in need of a softcore wake-up, I just wanted to see if Rankin’s time interning at the Italian design house had left its mark on the mountain bike-inspired shorts she designs for her Colorado-based SHREDLY brand.
“Although I’ve never consciously thought about it while I am designing or selecting prints, it’s hard to look at his work and not see a correlation,” said Rankin.
Coveri’s signature is brightly colored patterns, and the designs on SHREDLY shorts and leggings impart a similarly festive feel. The similarities end abruptly there, however, since you’d be hard-pressed to find Rankin’s customers on a runway.
“SHREDLY products were born for an active lifestyle,” says Rankin, “and designed to support you on your bike, paddling the river, hiking 14ers, playing the back nine or skating through town.” Those are the places that Colorado-born and bred Rankin spends her time when she’s not working, and it’s the women who share that adventurous lifestyle who she’s working for.
Like most kids, Rankin spent plenty of time on a bike, whether tooling around the neighbourhood or racing her siblings through obstacle courses they built on tennis and basketball courts. Then, like many mountain-born kids, she moved to a city for college and then took her diploma — she has degrees in Apparel Design/Production and Marketing — straight back to the hills after graduation.
“Design took a backseat to my lifestyle preference, and I pursued job opportunities in marketing since they actually existed where I wanted to live,” said Rankin. It’s no surprise, then, that Rankin’s idea for SHREDLY was born far away from the classroom.
“I was looking for a new pair of mountain biking shorts and complaining to my girlfriends about the lack of options that didn’t look like what we started biking in from the 80s and 90s,” she said. “Ever since my teens, I’ve had visions of the clothes I want to wear, most of them so specific it’s hard to find them ever created. Once the SHREDLY designs started coming, they didn’t stop.”
Buoyed by the confidence of her college education and encouraged by friends and family, Rankin spent a year “imagining, discussing, and poking at sourcing” before choosing a name and filing an LLC. Six months later, she launched a Kickstarter campaign, and introduced the SHREDLY brand to Facebook and Twitter. From January to February of 2012, over 120 people contributed $25,897 to SHREDLY’s Kickstarter campaign, and then Rankin was off to the races.
From 2010 to 2015, SHREDLY was “me, wearing as many different hats as necessary,” Rankin said. But she was just as quick to credit the people who supported her along the way.
“One friend introduced me to his friend who introduced me to her friend and that person happened to be just the right person I needed on the manufacturing side of things. Another friend is a photographer and offered to shoot the very first product shots and lifestyle photography,” said Rankin. “Friends were and still are the clothing/lifestyle/athlete models. Family members offered their attics and basements as warehouse space and helped with all the explosions involved in receiving big shipments of inventory.”
Anyone who’s started a business may recognize the “it takes a village” approach. Rankin still cites her friends and family as integral to the early days of SHREDLY, yet now the company is rooted firmly in its foundation.
Despite the sleep deprivation, stoke levels at the 18 Hours of Fruita mountain bike race in Colorado are high. Call it solidarity or call it crazy, but people are chatty and helpful and open, and when I competed last year, they wanted to talk about my shorts.
“Hey, where’d you get those, I want to get my wife some!” from the guys.
And, “Are those shorts good to ride in?” from the ladies.
It’s about as fun to talk about SHREDLY’s as it is to wear them. Made of a quick-dry, lightweight and durable fabric (doused in fresh, flashy prints) they’ve got a low-rise, flattering cut. Somehow, they work for all body types; my race partner in Fruita is narrow-hipped, long and lean, and I’ve got biker quads and a booty, and we can both fit into the same size shorts. SHREDLYs can be paired with a removable chamois for riding but are oh-so-awesome for going commando apres-ride (or surf, SUP, or hike). The big cargo pocket holds a phone, chapstick, and a small snack, and you can stuff gloves into the regular ones.
While SHREDLY’s are engineered for mountain biking (the baggy shorts are comfortable on the saddle and durable if you take a tumble off), Rankin wants you to know that they’re intended for adventure.
“If you’re going on a camping trip and want to pack minimally, grab your SHREDLYs,” she said. “You’ll have them for the ride, and then you’ll have them for everything else you’re going to do before and after (floating the river, climbing that rock wall over there, drinking beer around the campfire, hiking, etc.).”
In addition to three styles of shorts – the multi-sport, mountain bike short, and mountain bike long – SHREDLY also offers a few styles of breathable jerseys, and this year Rankin introduced a line of stylish leggings that are (you guessed it) also fun and functional. Everything in the SHREDLY catalogue reflects this dichotomy so you don’t have to choose one over the other.
Let’s face it, Italian stallions stalking the runway in itty bitty boy shorts are nice to look at, but badass women getting after it in their SHREDLYs make much better adventure partners.
Betsy writes and rides from her home in Lyons, Colorado. She’s always scheming two-wheeled adventures, and dreams of one day living in a place where surfing and singletrack are a stone’s throw from one another. Betsy also loves harvesting food from the garden and spending hours in the kitchen, fuelled by espresso or locally brewed beer.