Parents, if you struggle to find high -performing, great gear for your kids that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, you’re not alone. It’s tough navigating through the outdoor industry to find a balance between what you can afford and what is actually going to perform. Shred Dog is here to change all that.
This winter we have been testing out their new products through some pretty gnarly conditions. See our full review at the bottom of this post after the interview.
I had an opportunity to interview the Shred Dog guys (answers below) and I think their responses are definitely worth reading. In particular, check out questions number 1, 5 and 7.
- What need are you trying to fulfill with Shred Dog gear?
From a gear perspective, we are filling what we view as a hole in today’s market: high-performance outdoor apparel for kids that is also affordable. Most other brands leave off important features because they would cost too much and, even so, the best gear is still very expensive considering kids outgrow everything in a year or so. Our goal is to create top-of-the-line performance but at a price point that works for more families. But the gear itself is also a means to a broader purpose. We want to provide gear that helps kids and their families get outside and stay outside regardless of the weather because of what that allows them to do. On one hand, we are in the apparel business but we also view our business as helping families make lifelong memories of camping trips, ski trips, hikes, and all the other outdoor adventures we cherished as kids and are now passing on to our own kids.
- Who is your target audience?
We believe SHRED DOG will most resonate with active, outdoor families that are discerning about the gear they buy and are willing to pay for high performance. SHRED DOG gear will be higher performance than most other options on the market AND more affordable but also not inexpensive. We’ll likely over time have a range of “good, better, and best” style options with varying price points between them but we are starting at the top with premium performance. Finally, while the buyer is obviously the parent, our target audience also certainly includes the kids. We hope the family sees SHRED DOG as a great performance value but we design with kids in mind, we include kids in our design process, and of course we hope the kids will want to wear SHRED DOG because they think the gear is cool!
- What gear is available now?
Our size range for all products this year is 4 to 14 and we are starting with winter (ski/snowboard gear). The first products for both boys and girls include a waterproof/breathable hardshell, an insulator (“puffy”) jacket that zips into the shell, and a lightly insulated ski/snowboard pant. Following within the next couple months (still this season) will be a neck gaiter and performance winter socks. Starting late-season / early spring, we’ll also be introducing a very cool seamless baselayer 1/4-zip top.
- What pieces do you hope to carry in the future?
We will of course continue to expand our winter line with more colors, potentially toddler to 3T sizes, a mid-layer fleece to fit into our layering system, baselayer bottoms, and additional styles, but we are also already working on evolving into a year-round outdoor brand. We will continue to focus on the outdoors (think hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, etc), but with many pieces that are styled and designed to also be worn to school or the playground). For example, one new product already in development is a fully waterproof rain shell for 2019. In general, we will move into categories where high-performance products carry a high price tag, giving us the opportunity to offer families the combination of elite yet more affordable performance.
- How do you keep your price point so reasonable?
The #1 driver is simply the fact that we do not sell through retailers such as chain stores, local ski shops, online sites like backcountry.com, or even Amazon because those retailers would all take their cut and increase the price you pay. Basically, the way the math works is, if a brand spends $50 to make a jacket, they sell it to the retailer for $100, and then the retailer sells it to us parents for the retail price of $200 (and if you buy it from the brand’s website, the price is still $200 because they are not allowed to undercut their retailers). So by eliminating the retailer “middleman” and their markup, we are able to pass much of those savings on to parents. This also means we can invest more in higher quality materials, more features and still sell for a lower price than an inferior competitive product (for example, if we spent $70 on a better jacket and sell it for $150, you are getting a better performing jacket AND paying less versus that $200 jacket sold through retailers).
- What makes your gear different than other outdoor gear for kids?
In terms of performance, our pricing model enables us to increase quality and add features where most brands can not. For example, higher waterproofness and breathability ratings in our fabrics. Full seam-taping instead of just sealing the “critical” ones. Extra features you don’t often see on kids’ gear such as underarm/thigh zippered vents, and more. We also design specifically with kids in mind and are trying to innovate in a few areas. In particular, the ability to rip a seam on a sleeve or pant leg to get another season out of a garment was a pretty good idea for growing kids… but what do you do when it’s time to hand that garment down? You can’t put the seam back! We created a system we call Adjust-a-Fit™ that lets you shorten or lengthen the sleeves and pant legs for growth, hand-me-downs, or just a custom fit.
- Your product tags say “Co-Designed With You”… what does that mean?
At SHRED DOG, we don’t want to guess at what features, colors, or other design elements families will want and, as importantly, we want our customers to feel like they are part of building this brand. So rather than guess or employ small focus groups like other brands, we open up our design process to include any parents (and their kids) that want to participate. We use an anonymous online tool where we present design options for people to vote and comment on. It starts at a high level (e.g. should we make backpacks or rain shells next?), then includes feature/price options (e.g. would you want a removable hood even if it costs a little more?), and finally, includes color and pattern selection (this is the part the kids like joining the parents to do!). So, our winter line arriving this fall as well as all future products will be “co-designed” with families that want to have a voice and a part in the gear we design and make for their family.
- Anything else you’d like to tell us?
The one other thing to mention right now is that we want to do more than just help individual families get their kids outdoors. This is our first year but we decided that from day one, we would invest in this broader mission. We have created a program we call More Kids Outside™ that will grow over time in a number of ways but, to start, we will be donating 1% of all sales to non-profit organizations that share our passion for getting more kids outside. So every SHRED DOG purchase made this year and forever will help get more kids off the couch and into the outdoors – hopefully making memories that will last a lifetime!
Shred Dog Review:
Over the past few months we have been testing out and putting the Shred Dog gear system through the wringer. Here’s our quick review of what we love….and what we would like to see changed the next round. Also see this video on our Facebook page so a view of some more features!
- Adjust-a-Fit system allows the pieces to add (AND take away) 1.5″ of growth. This is unique compared to other systems that only allow you to release a seam (and then not be able to put it back for the next child).
- The pants have a removable bib module + straps so you can use them as bibs OR pants.
- Underarm and Thigh vents
- Integrated layers that can be separated (removable zip-in insulator jacket that is also body-mapped so the insulation is just where it needs to be…and not where it doesn’t)
- Ruberized Wrist gasket
- Fully seam-taped
- Anti-abrasian reinforcement at knees, ankles AND bottom hems
What we love:
- Really and truly fully waterproof AND those wrist gaskets really work wonders for cuffs not staying wet and bugging kids
- Soft and pliable so kids can easily move around and play hard
- Hood fits over helmet (see above photo) and is removable
- Super durable. The reinforced areas are holding up perfectly to serious kid abuse (including pant cuffs dragging on the ground)
- Layering system means you don’t need anything more
- The Shell (Duke or Xena) can be used in the off season in rain too.
- The fact that it will last 2-3 years of growing AND then can be passed down due to the Adjust-a-Fit and quality
What we aren’t so crazy about:
- While camo was chosen by vote of parents, I would REALLY like to see some bright colors so I can pick my kids out on the hill easier. I also see this as a safety issue if they ended up crashing and were hard to spot.
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