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dryrobe® was designed by Gideon Bright - a North Devon, UK based surfer with over 30 years experience in the water.
I grew up in Cornwall and worked in graphic design. I had a bit part in a movie 'Blue Juice', which led to London, where I worked in the film industry for 15 years before relocating back to North Devon when my family started.
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 about helping me.
Just for info - Mum is now 76 (on the day of writing this, sorry Mum) and went bodyboarding today. Legend.
She gave me this homemade ‘thing’ one Christmas. It was like a huge cape. It was light blue waterproof material on the outside, with stripes across it, a dark blue towel lining with an elasticated hole for your head to stick through and a hood with poppers. She later told me "it was like a hatty fattener", which was something her Mum made for her, only out of towelling.
I remember taking it with the best ‘Wow thanks Mum’ I could muster and slinging it in the car.
It was a freezing day at Godrevy, I can’t remember when exactly but must have been winter 1983 (ish).
The wind was so cold it was freezing our faces off just looking at the surf.
So we got in the suits OK but coming out I remember thinking: "I don’t care what anyone says, I’m using that thing," so I busted it out and slung it over my head.
Now, I think, it was just Scraps and me but maybe Ratsy or Rambel, or Huddy.. can’t really remember but pretty sure the car park was empty apart from us. The cold had frozen our brains, I think, as I don’t remember much being said.
We had gone into survival mode. I got changed in it, then I passed it on and we all used it.
Genius idea! That thing did some changes over the years. It got in a bit of a state due to the towel lining, but I’m pleased to report it has been handed back to us!
I know there is a photo about somewhere from those days and the hunt is on to find it. (but no luck yet).
My old mate Jasper told me that he still had it and he sent it back to me. This was in 2013! I can’t believe it’s still in one piece and not rotted to pieces.
Anyway, here is a recent picture of the real original being modelled by Ben. Yes we found it! Thanks Jasper.
The current dryrobe product itself was created as a mix or hybrid of existing products. The towel change robe was an established idea but it just didn’t work for me. If it was raining or if I used it when it was cold or windy it seemed to make me colder.
I always had the old waterproof and windproof ‘robe’ idea in the back of my mind but didn’t really think to develop it.
It took one cold winters day, stood 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.
Very shortly after that day, I was visiting family in Australia when I spotted some people using a long narrow fitting coat, around a swimming pool in Engadine, near Cronulla. They were putting this thing on staying warm and then going back in the pool and re-using it when they came out again. I checked it out and bought one.
When I got back to the UK I set about making the first waterproof and windproof change robe using the template of a towel change robe and tried to source fabrics similar to the coat.
The first versions had no zip front, no sleeves and the lining felt awful. It took some lateral thinking and some 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 dryrobe at Marine Drive, in Woolacombe, Devon in 2010. I knew straight away that it was good. I was asked straight away, by two ladies, where they could buy one. A bit of a weird conversation, as I was ‘mid change’ and naked in this dryrobe thing. Trust me, it feels strange talking to people like that the first time.
I sold the first few to mates who just asked me for one and started making them with the help of a local business.
The first ever waterproof, windproof change robe ‘dryrobe’ sold online in Dec 2010. I started a Twitter account and people started wanting them.
The business was started on a laptop using a cupboard beside my bed as a desk. It moved into the garden shed for a year and then into serviced offices and finally into our own space.
There is now a team based in UK and in the US.
The innovation and development does not stop. We are bringing out a whole range of products with function and design as the core concept. The dryrobe reviews and comments have all been so positive and just using the product is proof enough of the thought and care that has gone into it, and almost reward enough on those freezing morning changes.
I definitely can’t say it is without it’s challenges but we have some exciting times ahead.
The dryrobe® has received high praise since its launch and has become a very familiar around car parks in the UK's best surf spots and on the back of the best athletes from all over the world.
It has become an essential companion for open water swim training for triathlon and virtually all outdoor sports have embraced the benefits of staying warm while changing outdoors, after racing or just hanging about outdoors.
You might have spotted them on TV being worn by some very big names in Triathlon. (We can't talk about that due to sponsorship issues) and many other celebrities.
We were approached by the Sport Relief team to supply them for Davina's Beyond Breaking Point Challenge and more recently DJ Greg James Sport Relief #gregathlon challenge. We have supplied many big names and brands with team kit including Team GB, Red Bull and Mercedes Benz.
All the recent news is in the blog.
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