Capilano University students use precious metal to mend the gap in activewear market
Rachel D’Sa // Arts & Culture Editor
It’s clear to any resident of Vancouver, or even those visiting, that the city is crawling with athletic wear sporting individuals. Though there is a massive market for the comfy clothing, it’s heavily dominated by name brands. However, the fear of failure hasn’t stopped young entrepreneurs from entering the field using inventive tactics, in an attempt to get a taste of sweet success.
Capilano University business students Connor Lennox, and Lauren Clokie, alongside CEO Lucas Skriko, founded FOR Apparel, an innovative athletic wear company that’s on the rise. With the competitive fashion sales environment, the e-commerce company has not only managed to stay afloat but thrive by introducing meticulous engineering – implementing copper into the fabrics of their product.
The idea started with Skriko’s own interest in athletics and the dream of starting an athleisure clothing company. Having grown up as the son of pro hockey player for the Vancouver Canucks in the 80s, Petri Skriko, he had been around comfortable and functional clothing his whole life. By incorporating copper nanoparticles, through a process of infusing them into cotton, the clothes become anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, resistant to wrinkles, wear and moisture, while also offering odour control, UV protection (UPF 40+), and many other benefits.
Lennox noted that the company has an edge on many large athletic wear companies, but it didn’t come easy. The manufacturing process, which took two years to perfect, had to tackle the problem that came with working with the infused material to retain colour. “Usually if you were to dye a copper garment it would come out discoloured and almost tie-dye,” said Lennox.
The lengthy and tough process, however, was vital to push through as Skriko knew that the market was extremely competitive and that if he was going to follow his dream, he was going to have to come out of the gates fast.
“Lucas had a connection to a factory overseas that was working on developing the technology, and so he tethered with them and gave his input along the way, and decided to tether his new clothing line to this new technology to bring products to that market that other clothing companies cannot provide,” noted Lennox.
Along with the distinctive technology, the apparel company also sets itself apart from the sea of athletic wear brands with their identifying ‘high aesthetic activewear’ design in the athleisure crossover market. Primarily focusing on males in the 18 to 35 age range, the brand draws from local inspiration to create an outstanding product that doesn’t have the typical athletic wear look.
The first collection, The Crosstown Collection, was released in mid-August and consists of five shirts featuring unique and wearable aesthetic elements. “I believe Lucas took some inspiration from the vibrant colours of Kitsilano, particularly the West 4th neighbourhood where his head office is located. He’s also Finnish so I think some of the designs, perhaps the polo, speak to his origins,” said Lennox.
FOR, which stands for Find One Reason, reflects the company’s philosophy of doing one thing a day to improve yourself. Lennox explained that the basic concept of the company is the drive behind achieving success and pushing oneself to continuously get better, while channelling the courage to transform a dream into a reality.
And according to Lennox, the two-year research and development process wasn’t just for the copper tech fabric. Because the company believes in providing its customers with products that can shine outside of the gym, tailoring each article was also a large task, but left an incredible impression. “We went through about 10 different fittings, meticulously taking in 16th of an inch by 16th of an inch to make sure that the shirts fit well under the arms, over the shoulders. It’s a high aesthetic company, so if you leave the gym in the clothes afterwards it’s not going to be your average Nike or Lulu top that all looks the same,” said Lennox.
The company has been rapidly growing at a faster rate than ever imagined, and the trio of early 20-somethings have matched their pace to t the overwhelming success of the business. Lennox noted that though FOR Apparel started out as an e-commerce company, it has since become much more than that, and the growing team of creators are working to increase local “touchpoints” to compensate for their lack of a physical store and keep up with heavy online traffic.
Sometime in the next three weeks FOR Apparel plans on launching their next collection, The Granville Collection, inspired by fall and winter. Pieces from this release will use neutrals such as greys and blacks, a side of the fashion spectrum that the company has yet to explore, and one that is typically popular.
In the coming six months the company also plans on releasing men’s joggers and shorts, incorporating the copper weaving technology into various types of cotton to create extremely soft and well-fitting bottoms. This new line will also expand the variety of colours and styles of tops. Getting into the 2018-19 year, the apparel company will be getting into the more competitive women’s wear market, both a daunting and exciting task to tackle.
Originally assuming digital platform duties along with Clokie, Lennox notes the abundant supply of extensive skill, leadership, and teamwork within the company, following its successful launch. “We’ve all had to take on larger roles, as we’ve realized that we truly have something on our hands here and we want to cultivate it as best we can.”
For more information on FOR Apparel, and to shop their current and upcoming collections visit: Forapparel.com