Where it all Started - The Story Behind dryrobe®
Where did the idea for dryrobe® originally come from? Founder Gideon Bright shares the story of how dryrobe® evolved from a homemade Christmas gift into the high performance piece of kit it is today.
The first ‘dryrobe’ was based on an idea my mum had when I was younger (about 16). I always used to get cold changing in Godrevy car park or wherever I was surfing and living in Carbis Bay, near St. Ives in Cornwall. We surfed all year round and it gets cold in the winter
Mum was handy with a sewing machine and decided to do something to help me. She gave me this homemade ‘thing’ one Christmas. It was like a huge cape with waterproof material on the outside, with a towel lining with an elasticated hole for your head to stick through, and a hood with poppers.
I remember taking it with the best ‘Wow, thanks Mum’ I could muster and slinging it in the car. Then one freezing day coming out of the surf with my friends I remember thinking ‘I don’t care what anyone says, I’m using that thing’. Turns out the robe was a genius idea! That original change robe ended up doing so many car park changes over the years.
The current dryrobe® Advance itself was created as a mix of existing products. The towel change robe was an established idea, but it just didn’t work for me. I always had the old waterproof and windproof ‘robe’ idea in the back of my mind but didn’t really think about developing it.
It took one cold winter's day, standing in a car park at Croyde in the rain with a soggy towel robe on, freezing cold for me to think, right, I’m going to make something better. But how?
Very shortly afterwards I set about making the first waterproof and windproof change robe.
The first versions had no zip front and no sleeves, and the lining felt awful. It took some lateral thinking and good fortune to source the right elements, but the revised version got simplified and improved upon until the design worked and dryrobe® was born.
I wore the first weatherproof dryrobe® change robe at Woolacombe, Devon in 2010.
I sold the first few to mates who asked me for one and started making them with the help of a local business. The first-ever waterproof, windproof dryrobe® change robe sold online in December 2010.
Since its launch the dryrobe® Advance has been continually upgraded and refined. As the unique design has evolved so have the materials used – increasing both the performance and sustainability of the fabrics with each development. Now every dryrobe® Advance leaving the factory is made with 100% recycled fabrics.
One of the most interesting aspects of the dryrobe® journey is seeing the various outdoor activities that use the dryrobe® Advance. From surfing, there’s been a natural progression into other water sports and beyond. It has become an essential companion for open water swimming training and a huge number of outdoor sports including triathlon, obstacle course racing, rugby and mountain biking have embraced our products.
I am hugely proud of our small team based here in North Devon and the culture of constant examination and improvement we have at dryrobe®. It’s a great place to be. We are always learning, always improving and it runs through everything we do. I can’t say it is without challenges, but we have some very exciting times ahead.
The most positive thing to come out of the growth of dryrobe® has been the ability for us to help support some amazing community projects, both locally and internationally. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done with The Wave Project and Surfers Not Street Children. Both of these inspiring charities change the lives of vulnerable young people through the power of surfing - something that’s really close to my heart.
You might also have spotted dryrobe® change robes on TV. We’ve supplied many Sport Relief and Comic Relief teams including Davina McCall’s Beyond Breaking Point Challenge and Billy Monger’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge Triathlon. We also provided kit to the celebrities taking on ‘Sink or Swim’ in aid of Stand Up To Cancer and have given customised dryrobes® to the children taking on the Rickshaw Challenge for Children in Need.
Other campaigns and community projects we support include those that work to protect our coast and its wildlife, including Surfers Against Sewage and The 2 Minute Foundation. Whether it is in the best interests of the environment or people’s mental and physical wellbeing, each campaign and project we support inspires us with their exceptional work.
- Gideon Bright