To the average shopper, looking through thousands of fabric swatches could easily blur your vision and numb your mind. But as Ashley Rankin flips through page after page of patterns, they speak to her. Suddenly she’ll see one and know it’s a Shredly bike short. And she’ll know exactly who it’s for — maybe the downhiller who wants wild and crazy patterns and doesn’t care about matching, or the fashionista who wants high-style, whether it be on the trail, or anywhere in between.
Shredly’s bike shorts aren’t distinctive just because they are designed for women, but more notably because of their bold colors and patterns. Ashley, founder, owner and designer for the company figures you can get a black short from any of the other companies out there. She wanted to offer something no one else made.
Ashely grew up in Colorado and studied apparel design, production and marketing at Colorado State. She pictured herself becoming a high-end couture fashion designer and even spent a summer interning in Florence, Italy. But something was missing — the mountains.
Ashley thought about trying to find a job in the outdoor apparel industry, but she didn’t have any interest in it. Instead, she delved into marketing and real estate. The career eventually provided her a little bit of disposable income and more importantly, time to bike and ski.
Still, she wasn’t completely happy in a desk job. She started thinking about her career. While shopping for a pair of bike shorts, she realized that finding the right pair was frustrating and stressful. Ashley, who loves to shop, spent two summers looking for shorts she could wear mountain biking that weren’t black and boring.
“I wanted something way more fun,” she said.
Most of the time she wore board shorts with a chamois underneath, but the fabric was stiff, uncomfortable, and sometimes caught on her bike seat. She realized if she wanted real bike shorts in fun patterns, she’d have to design them herself.
Ashley knew a few things about her brand before she even started. She wanted her shorts made in the USA. She also wanted the shorts to be multi-use, not just for biking.
“I wanted them to be the go-to-short for summer,” she said.
They needed to be quick drying and durable, something a woman could wear as a board short on the water, a bike short on the trails, a golf short on the links and a climbing short in the mountains.
So Ashley designed a pair of unpadded shorts that would work for a variety of sports. Unlike the board shorts she’d worn before, Ashley made them for comfort.
She started with a waist band that was lower in front, so there would still be coverage while seated on a bike. She wanted the shorts to be loose enough to feel unrestricted, but not too baggy to get caught on the bike seat. She also added a gusseted crotch without a four-way seam, making the shorts uber comfortable.
Once she had a design in mind, she started to pick the patterns and colors.
“I wanted everything to be really unexpected,” she said. “Then I listened to women throughout the year.”
Some women still experienced a gap in the back, so she added a Velcro waist adjustment system. Some wanted a more tech-styled short, so she added seams that opened with mesh venting. Serious downhillers and older riders wanted longer shorts, prompting Ashley to create knickers that would cover the knees.
And she’s not done yet. She wants Shredly to be the “Gap” of bike shorts, with a style and fit that works for everyone. For now, she has three different varieties of shorts: the multi-sport short, the mountain bike short and the mountain bike knickers. They come in an array of patterns. Shredly also offers a few jerseys that function as technical t-shirts and use solid colors to match the busy patterns of the shorts.
Currently, Shredly is still based in Ashley’s attic in Carbondale, Colorado, and a one person company. When people call for the customer service department — or any Shredly department — they all speak to Ashley.
She manages design and pattern selection, sending her sketches and specs to a pattern maker. The shorts are sold on her website, but also through about 50 other dealers, who have all approached her asking to sell the product.
Since she started Shredly, the compliments have kept on coming. “So cute.” “Great fit.” “Never thought I’d find a short that looked and felt good.” But one of the biggest compliments is also the scariest.
Other bike clothing companies have taken notice and a few have designed shorts similar to Shredly’s bold patterns. They’ve realized not only is there a market for women’s bike shorts, but the market wants more than basic black. They all want Shredly shorts, and quite frankly, so do we!