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Newfoundland and Labrador

Specialized shutters women’s cycling apparel brand Machines For Freedom

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This story originally appeared in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

LOS ANGELES (BRAIN) – Specialized Bicycle Components has closed womenswear brand Machines For Freedom, which it bought from founder Jennifer Kriske five years ago.

The decision to end the brand comes at a time when the industry is realizing the need to make clothes that fit people of all sizes.

“By leading the progressive revolution of cycling’s size, inclusivity, representation and diversity, and focusing on the underrepresented category of women, Machines has been a beacon of inspiration,” founder Jennifer Kriske said in a statement to BRAIN after announcing the closure had on Instagram.

“I am sad but hopeful that the legacy will live on. I have cycled through feelings of sadness and gratitude. Over the past decade, Machines’ impact on the bicycle industry has been undeniable. Our industry-leading fit process has changed the game for women of all shapes and sizes, and we’ve challenged an industry to accommodate riders who have been overlooked for generations.”

When Specialized acquired the brand in 2018, it described the purchase as “a bold investment in women’s leadership.” When asked for comment Tuesday, Specialized issued a statement expressing its gratitude for inspiring the brand to serve women riders.

“While dissolving the brand was a difficult decision for both parties, the lessons learned during this partnership will continue to inform and guide the way Specialized creates women’s products for years to come.”

Kriske founded Machines For Freedom in 2014 before looking for a partner to fill a need in the women’s cycling clothing market.

Marley Blonsky, co-founder of All Bodies on Bikes, credited Machines For Freedom with improving her cycling enjoyment.

“Machines For Freedom sent me a kit in March 2020, and it was the first kit I wore — after almost 10 years of cycling — that really fitted,” said Blonsky, whose group supports the creation of inclusive cycling communities. “After years of wearing either ill-fitting cycling gear or clothing not intended for cycling, this was an aha moment for me. I finally understood why everyone was wearing lycra. Their thoughtful marketing, bold designs, inclusive sizing, and community building really set them apart as a brand.

“When they lose them, a lot of people don’t know where to find a well-fitting kit, especially for people on the larger and smaller end of the size spectrum.”

(Photo: Machines for Freedom)

However, Blonsky said she considered starting a clothing brand even before Machines For Freedom closed.

“The timing is pretty random,” said Blonsky, who was accepted into the University of Arkansas’ Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program, which focuses on helping entrepreneurs create innovative outdoor industry products and services. “I’m practically still in the idea development/customer research phase, but there is a distinct lack of cycling clothing in large sizes. And I definitely have a platform to make that happen.”

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