Why we launched race gear for women, how it went, and where it's going..
February 12, 20184 min read
On December 7th, 2017, Racechick reached a very important milestone with the launch of our new 'FIERCE' line of women's race gear at the PRI Show in Indianapolis. This launch was literally the reason that Racechick.com was born.
It's no secret that I (Carrie Willhoff) love to race. To give a little background, I have worked in the fashion industry for designers such as Christian Dior, Fendi, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and many others during the week, and on weekends I race. When I started the Optima Ultimate Streetcar series, I found myself needing a fire suit. It shocked me when I looked and looked and couldn't find anything for women that was entry level. I didn't want to shell out a ton of money on a fire suit when I wasn't even sure that I wanted to do more than one event with this series. So my options became a) shell out $1200+ for a custom suit or b) buy a men's suit and have it altered. I went with the men's suit. I quickly realized that in spite of spending a small fortune at the tailor, there were just too many things they couldn't fix. Like the armholes that went down to my waist and the middle and shoulder section that I was drowning in. I had thought for years that I needed to combine what I do (fashion) with what I love to do (racing) but it was that moment when the lightbulb clicked.
The next year was spent partnering with another company, Pyrotect, who have already mastered this arena for the men. What I love about this company is that they have been in business forever, due to the reputation and quality of their products. They were big enough to have the qualities that were important to me, but not too big that they wouldn't consider working with me. Consider it a perfect partnership. Shortly after talking with them, I started designing. One year and seven prototypes later, we have nailed down every detail of the design and every single measurement you could think of to come up with the ultimate women's race suit. Those poor measurement charts have lived on my coffee table for months and have stains from food and coffee, wrinkles from the dog knocking them over and tons of pencil and eraser marks. I have poured over every single detail of these suits...and it shows. With every prototype, I wore them to a race to make sure that they fit well while sitting, not too much bulk anywhere and the ability to get in and out of a car out the window if needed. To say that these ladies suits have been tried and tested would be an understatement
Fast forward to PRI. Would these work? Would people like them? Or is this a stupid idea that would crash and burn? My questions were answered within the first hour of the show. Every woman who came into the booth LOVED them! They were thrilled that there was something entry level that they could look and feel good wearing. I wanted women to try them on (luckily there was a bathroom with a full length mirror close to the booth) and every time they did, I swear I held my breath until they came back. It worked on every single woman who tried them on. PHEW!
The launch went great...but my favorite part of PRI? Getting to meet all of the amazing ladies who came by the booth and shared with me their stories of their racing adventures. We met women from every kind of racing imaginable - a tractor puller, to a monster truck driver, to drag racers, oval track racers and just about everyone in between. It was then when I realized that this is so much more than just a product. They loved the women's fire suits, the women's racing gloves and the women's racing shoes, but above all, they loved and trusted the Racechick brand, and for that, I am truly grateful. I keep up with many of these women over social media and I am constantly in awe of their accomplishments.
Fast forward to PRI 2019 - our FIERCE women's fire suit is now an award winning favorite product of PRI attendees. We won our first PRI Global Media Award and look forward to everything that happens on this ride from here on out!
If you are in need of new gear, our new FIERCE series has SFI-1 and SFI-5 womens fire suits in a couple of color options as well as a custom option starting at $399. We also have FIERCE SFI 1 & SFI 5 gloves and FIERCE SFI-5 women's race shoes. We have many more products (think underlayers and fire jackets) and a new fire suit design in the works, so stay tuned to Racechick.com for more product launches. Want to hear about these items first? Check out our Facebook page @RacechickApparel and Instagram @race_chick.