No two bodies are alike. This holds true for athletes and non-athletes. As activewear becomes an increasingly popular outfit choice, the clothing market has seen a proliferation of brands — from Lululemon to Athleta, to Girlfriend, the options seem endless. In spite of the availability of activewear, it is perhaps not always designed with a spectrum of athletic body types in mind. Enter Indura Athletic, a small-business startup run by nordic skier Abby Drach.
Her company’s ethos is forthright about inclusivity. Its mission statement reads, “Indura Athletic stems from the desire to have athletic apparel that works with women’s athletic bodies. Through artfully designed and well-fitting apparel women can tackle their workouts with greater confidence. Indura Athletic aims to build women’s inner endurance through making her feel confident in her own unique and beautiful skin”.
Drach was inspired to launch Indura based on her personal experience using athleticwear as an athlete. “I have muscular quads, and even the shorts that are supposed to be made with muscular quads in mind are often too small in the legs and too large in the waist,” said Drach, “Athletes have a variety of builds that allow them to perform well, but often the available apparel doesn’t always suit their needs. I saw that the athletic apparel industry needs more clothes for athletic bodies. I want to create and design activewear that inspires confidence in women.”
Indura is the latest evolution in the arc of Drach’s sewing and business career. Drach, who graduated from Dartmouth College in June 2020, has been a competitive nordic skier since high school. First racing with Loppet Nordic Racing, Drach took a gap year to pursue skiing before joining the women’s nordic team at Dartmouth for the next four years.
Majoring in psychology with a concentration in design thinking, Drach worked at Dartmouth’s costume shop throughout her time in college and started her first business, Unfaded Denim, all while ski training full-time. With Unfaded Denim, Drach turned discarded jeans into stylish skirts and bags, selling them at the Hanover Farmers Market.
Like many who graduated during the pandemic, Drach was unsure of her future plans, saying, “I graduated from college last spring in the midst of a global pandemic without a plan in the world of what I would do next. I felt lost in the job search as well as the unfamiliarity of post-collegiate life.”
This aimless feeling of uncertainty didn’t persist. She quickly found a niche in the market and capitalized on it, sewing athletic masks and selling them on Etsy. The business took off, leaving her hand-sewing hundreds of masks a week and shipping them around the country and overseas.
Of her mask-making success, Drach said, “I could have never predicted that this is what I would be doing post-grad, but I am thankful for the opportunity that making masks has provided for me. It [gave] me the platform to begin building my brand by getting my name out to new people, it has given me the confidence that other people are interested in what I make, and it has allowed me to begin venturing into larger projects like designing a more comfortable sports bra for athletic bodies.”
As the demand for masks started to decline towards the end of winter, Drach was once again pondering her next step.
Designing and creating women’s athletic clothing has been a long-time dream job for Drach but she wasn’t expecting to jump into it so soon after graduating. While maintaining her mask production, she started experimenting with more clothing designs on the side. It was around this time that this season’s World Cup Overall winner Jessie Diggins reached out to Drach and expressed interest in ordering a custom sports bra. “She said that she wasn’t able to find sports bras that were low-cut enough under the arms for double-poling in order to avoid chafing,” shared Drach. “She also had trouble finding sports bras that fit both her chest and her ribcage, as an elite nordic skier she has a wider ribcage and back that allows her to be a powerful skier but proves to be more difficult to fit into typical sports bra sizing.”
Not allowing her limited experience to get in the way of this opportunity, Drach delved headfirst into crafting the perfect sports bra for Diggins. “The fact that one of the best skiers in the world was having trouble finding activewear that fit her athletic body made me realize that this is a problem that needs to be solved,” said Drach. “There needs to be more activewear that works with women’s active bodies rather than against them.”
Her experience with Diggins was a spark: Drach launched Indura Athletic. Her first collection was released in early April and featured the Stay Put Running Shorts, sports bras, and an athletic hoody, all designed and crafted by Drach. Using the lessons she learned from her process with Diggins, Drach incorporated several key features into the Indura sports bras, such as customizable chest and band sizes. “This allows women to have a traditional style sports bra that still fits her unique chest and band measurements,” explained Drach. “The bra is also cut lower underneath the arm, with straps that look cute, but avoid the lats. Women want a bra that not only fits great but looks cute too, which is why I went for pretty patterns and a unique square-neck design. Some of my customers have told me that this is the best sports bra they have ever owned, which is the best feedback and encouragement I could receive.”
Drach found inspiration for the Stay Put Shorts after conversations with 2015 World Championship bronze medalist, Caitlin Gregg. “She was struggling with the way her shorts fit,” explained Drach, “Caitlin has narrow hips and strong quads, which allows her to perform well in skiing, but makes it difficult to find shorts that fit and avoid chafing. The shorts I designed are longer between the thighs and have a grip strip at the bottom to prevent them from riding up. Having shorts that fit her well allows her to stress less about where her clothing is going, and focus more on what she is doing.”
On the creation process, the Indura website shares, “Everything at Indura is made with care for ethics and sustainability. All products are completely handmade from start to finish by Abby Drach in her Minneapolis home studio. Each item is made-to-order so no resources and fabric are wasted in the production process. Fabric is sourced locally from SR Harris, a local fabric warehouse that buys unwanted, end-of-bolt fabric from other retailers. All pieces are made using zero waste practices, as the fabric scraps go towards furniture stuffing processes. By purchasing through Indura, customers support responsible making and distributing methods.”
While this process is extremely time-consuming for Drach, she finds it rewarding. “I believe that people think differently about their clothing when they actually know and see the person behind the production,” said Drach. As for the zero-waste aspect of the business, she added, “[it] just makes more sense when I am making all the pieces myself, as it is easy to put all of the scraps towards other uses. I think people are willing to pay more for responsible sourcing. While my prices aren’t necessarily cheap, I did make sure not to price them higher than typical high-end athletic clothing like Athleta, Nike, or Lululemon. So, not only are customers not spending more than they would at these high-end brands, but they know that their clothing is being produced both ethically and sustainably.”
Looking towards the future, Drach was recently accepted in the University of Oregon’s Sports Product Design masters degree program but is still undecided as to whether she will attend or not, given the success and momentum of her latest endeavor. Drach says, “It has been a dream of mine to start my own clothing company for as long as I can remember. I have been sketching clothes since I had crayons in my hands… The journey of an entrepreneur is not smooth, nor did I think it ever would be, but I have been enjoying figuring it out along the way. Through my love of clothes and sewing, I don’t know if there is anything else I’d rather be doing.”
The next collection launch at Indura Athletic will be June 7th when the summer clothing line is released. Whatever items it may feature, they are sure to be practical, chic, and adventure-ready.
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Growing up in Washington’s Methow Valley, Ella was immersed in skiing and the ski community from a young age. From early days bundled in the pulk, to learning to ski as soon as she could walk, to junior racing, a few seasons of collegiate racing, and then to coaching, she has experienced the ski world in many forms. Now, as a recent graduate from Dartmouth College, she finds herself living in France splitting her time between teaching English at a university in Lyon, avidly following ski racing (and now writing about it!) and adventuring in the outdoors as often as possible.