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From Base Layers to Featherlight Jackets: CRAFT sportswear

by editor
Wednesday 26th July 2017
Tags  Craft   |   Craft Sportswear
CRAFT has been making quality technical sportswear for many years but recently their running range has really caught our eye. We spoke to their managing director, Lloyd Hughes, about the company, the products and his running!
1. When did you join CRAFT and what attracted you to the company?
I’ve been involved with CRAFT for around 5 years but the brand initially caught my eye due to the quality of the garments, as well as the story and layering behind the CRAFT principle. I couldn’t believe the science behind the kit, especially with the cooling effects of the summer base layers. The work that the company has put into creating a perfect body micro-climate for optimal performance is really impressive. 
The more time I’ve spent with CRAFT, the more evangelical I’ve become about it as a brand. 
2. Where, when and why did CRAFT launch?
CRAFT was launched in 1977 in Boras, Sweden and the headquarters are still there. Born from Cross Country Skiing, the brand has transferred many of the body micro-climate performance requirements from a sport where you are hot but the air is extremely cold, and the seemingly illogical requirements that brings to body temperature control to both running and bike ranges. 
I was in Boras recently and we were shown pictures of how technologies and materials have advanced over the years and how it will continue to advance over the next few seasons. It really brought home the volume of developmental work and change. We’re no longer a brand which makes award-winning baselayers, or highly technical running and cycling apparel. The technical elements and the Swedish functionality has survived as the brand grows globally year on year, whilst simultaneously becoming more fashionable. 

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3. What would you say is the ethos of the brand? And what do you want to achieve with it?
I think that Functional Sportswear says it all.   
Our apparel is designed to allow athletes of all levels to perform at their optimum level. If you’re comfortable, you’re able to train better and if you train better you are happier and you enjoy the training more, no matter how difficult it is.
CRAFT has always been involved in the research and development of ventilation and moisture dispersal properties for different fabrics. The CRAFT principle revolves around up to three layers (base layer, mid layer, protection layer), working together to create the perfect micro-climate for optimal performance. 
Constant development, innovation and collaboration with top athletes allows CRAFT to remain at the cutting edge of sportswear development and our fantastic designers are bringing in more fashionable elements each season. Everything we do is done with optimal benefits for the wearer in mind.
The main thing I want to achieve with CRAFT is to get as many people as possible as aware, as enthused and as excited about our work as I am.
4. What are your favourite ranges and why? 
The IPSO award-winning Active Extreme 2.0 Baselayer. It comes in round neck and crew neck, long and short sleeve. It has elastic fabric that is channel-knitted to trap air and provide warmth, but also Coolmax Air fiber against the skin to enhance cooling and moisture transport. Its body mapped mesh provides optimal temperature regulation and flatlock seams follow body movements. Honestly, it’s no surprise it won the IPSO award with so much technology packed into it..

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5. What are the standout pieces this summer, including technical features?
In addition to the Active Extreme, I love the Featherlight Jacket and Vest for running. They are ultra lightweight at 37gsm, and provide wind protection and water repellent fabric with ventilation panels at sweat zones, as well as elastic panels for an optimal fit. It has 360 degrees reflective details for optimal visibility and also packs into it’s own pocket which is a feature I just love.   
The Breakaway range is another standout as it also includes t-shirts and shorts. It has a focus on ventilation and moisture transport. The jacket design is ultra lightweight again with mesh panels at the sides and back for enhanced ventilation, and open vents at the bank for further heat regulation. It has double zip pockets at the chest and a soft jersey at the inside collar for comfort. Printed reflective details provide 360 visibility and soft wind and water repellent fabric. The tee shirt has a mesh body for optimal heat moist transport. Flatlock seams to avoid chafing and reflective print at chest and sleeve.
6. What sports do you take part in and what CRAFT pieces do you swear by? 
Running is one of the easiest and most accessible types of exercise, so I’ve always done that...just not very well.  
The piece I swear by most is our Active Extreme 2.0 Baselayer. It’s one of the most versatile garments we produce and I use it for any sporting activity including watching rugby and at my kids’ ice-skating lessons. 
The Breakaway Jacket, part of our run range, is another staple. It is extremely light, with durable wind and water repellency. My favourite feature is how it folds into its own pocket. I use this for running but also cycle-commuting.
7. Are there any exciting new products coming for runners A/W17 (sneak-peek)?
For the coming AW17 range I’m excited about the new active intensity and warm intensity baselayer range. It’s a baselayer product so its body-mapped for optimal body-temperature management, but also seamless so there is optimal freedom of movement. For a run-specific range I also really like the wind-resistant radiate jacket for men and women and the long sleeve mind reflective zip tee with its 360 visibility again showing how functionality is at the forefront of what we do.   
8. What does the future hold for CRAFT as a company?
I’m very excited for the future for CRAFT in the UK & Ireland. I really feel 2018 will be a landmark year for CRAFT as we meld the high functionality you’d expect from Sweden’s top sportswear brand with a more fashionable element. We have a strong range and message running throughout all the collections. The technical and functional elements will remain, but you would be just as comfortable wearing the run-specific garments to the gym, to an exercise class, to the pub, or just day-to day.
Find out more about CRAFT Sportswear here: www.craftsportswear.co.uk

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