Small Business Meets Commercial Market
CEO Dave Mellon reached out to WERX in the summer of 2021 seeking to take the fishing industry leader to yet another market, fly fishing. Starting with an excellent foundation comprised of a bang-up team of season professionals from several top brands,
Developing the best waders on the market wasn't a walk in the park, so collaborating with another team on design wasn't our usual wheelhouse, but we didn't look at it as a challenge, yet another opportunity to meet a brand where they needed us to be, and the results showed.
Category: Fly Fishing
WERX Role: Design, Develop, Produce
Business Stage: Commercial Fishing Leader
Things kicked off in the WERX studio where category director, Curtis Graves, came through to examine the industry's most popular waders. As always, begin with pain points. Developing advanced products means that all of the necessary boxes are checked, the advanced aspect comes from creatively tackling certain stresses in other products, or adding a functionality that was either overlooked in the past, doesn't exist, or could be made better. And, obviously, fundamentals are the name of any game.
Looking at the leading waders in the market, we went through the fabric offering of Gore-Tex, Schoeller, and advanced neoprene materials from a few high end suppliers. We discussed fit, function, stress points and how we could utilize Grundens experience and heritage in commercial fishing to our advantage to bring a spin to how waders could be re-imagined.
The initial goals were to improve fit overall for ease of mobility, in and out of the water, create a gravel guard that has superior boot protection, and a suspension system that gives greater comfort and adjustment for more body types and less shoulder fatigue. However, these were our biggest challenges at the same time. We were attempting to reinvent the fit while working within the parameters of a fabric that is limited in stretch. Gore-tex has some great performance for waterproofness and heat vapor release, but what it locks is great stretch.
Working with our deep experience in outerwear shell layers, from mountaineering shells, thick fire-retardant workwear, to cut-resistant military/tactical fabrics we were up for the challenge to develop ease of mobility through garment patterning. Approaching the pattern work with the goal to limit seams, as in past developments and consumer use cases with other waders we have witnessed main waterproof leaks coming from seam failures. With the shoulder harness, we looked at fusing durable stretch wovens with advanced foam structure we used in technical backpack straps. Similar to climbing harnesses, it ensures minimal water retention, durability, and supportive comfort for the wearer for extended time periods.
How We Succeeded
Once the wader block was narrowed down, we worked through each panel to see how we could shape the block to ensure best fit and mobility without adding additional seams and panels. Ergonomic paneling and darting to create volume we landed, with a very unique design that looks unlike any other wader in the market. In this regard, we were able to establish a technical aesthetic for Grundens waders, putting function first.
The results included a multi-pocket organization system allowing effortless organization of essential tools and accessories, ensuring quick and easy access on the go. The seamless belt loops not only provide a sleek and streamlined appearance but also offer added durability and security. The adjustable shoulder suspension system gives anglers the ability to personalize the fit to their liking, enhancing both comfort and support. Moreover, the overall improved fit and mobility of these waders makes casting and navigating challenging terrains a breeze, enabling fishers to focus on their experience rather than any discomfort.
Working with the highly experienced and knowledgable team at Grundens, we were honored to be able to be a part of such a dynamic and impressive team’s initiative to bring the legendary Grundens’ fishing brand into the fly-fishing market. The Grundens vision and direction was the guiding light to create such a game changing product launch.