The old man and the hoody

Founder Ralph Dunning leaning on the storefront of Foreign Rider Co. Toronto location
Flat photo of Foreign Rider Co. Fr. Fully Zip Hoody

In the 80’s I was working for one of the major record labels and was pretty obsessed with Polo, Timberland and Roots sweatshirts who also made Beaver Canoe sweats at the same time. 

The Polo stuff I bought was always the right hand and they had unreal sweats, pique polos and Oxford button downs. A lot of my stuff was made locally and I still have it to this day because the quality back then was just so good.

I bought Timberland boat shoes after seeing an ad in M Magazine that talked about their long lasting philosophy in how they built their goods back then.

Old article clipping about Timberlands
Ken Williams wearing a classic suit sitting on worn out leather couch
Advertisement from Turnbull & Asser of Winston Churchill

I was also a big advocate for wearing Turnbull and Asser ties which at the time was managed by my Dads best friend - Ken Williams...who dressed James Bond.

In the music industry at that time, it was pretty much all guys dressed like they were all trying to be super cool - it was comical to watch. Leather pants with bad shoes and blouse type shirt. Like they were all trying to be in Roxy Music or Duran Duran. I looked like an outsider in my prep attire but didn’t give a shit.  

Quality was all I cared about back then and the brands I loved all built quality goods at the time. All of them. 

This is me below in the mid 80s wearing a Polo sweathshirt with feathered hair parted to the side. Very similar to a Ralph Lauren magazine model although I have a slightly better haircut. This was during my music industry days when I worked at RCA Records.

Photo of a young Ralph Dunning in the 80s wearing a Polo sweatershirt

You will see a lot of companies now online saying they make the best - the best hoody, the best t-shirt, the best shorts, the best tech pant, the best underwear, the best of the best - blahblahblah.  That has always made me laugh because who really has the arrogance to say they are the best. The consumer makes that call and that has to be consistent over years. 

When I started working on FR. over 10 years ago - my goal was simple. Build quality products the right way while doing the right thing. That means a lot and it covers a lot of ground…but it is really quite simple. 

Engineer quality fabrics. 

Understand how fit is dictated by the fabric. 

Use quality construction methods that have been proven over decades. 

Treat your supply chain with the utmost of respect. That took me time over my career to understand what that actually meant. Nobody wants to make mistakes. They just sometimes happen because there are so many people involved who touch a single piece of clothing like a hoody or a t-shirt. The key is for everyone involved to work together to make everyone happy…something a lot of brands need to learn. 

In my work life today, I pretty much live in a t-shirt and when it's cooler, I put on a hoody because of the sheer feeling of comfort that goes with it. 

Times have changed significantly since my music days in the 80s. I am almost 60 now, so I am basically an old man. I am an old man.

I dress the way I want and haven’t wore a suit since January of 2019 when I stood at the PGA Show selling shiny shirts and pants. 

A hoody seems like its pretty easy to design and make as there are a million out there ranging from 20 bucks to 1500 depending on the brands justification for charging that. 

It took me years to get the FR. hooded jacket right because it's complicated to get it right. 

I wanted to use organic cotton that draped perfectly and held its shape. The fit had to work for the build of an athlete. It had to get better with every wear and wash. The zippers had to be hardwearing but minimal. 

The hood had to have some body to it when you pulled it up. 

We spent months and months developing this fabric and fit to make sure we can have consistency with our sizing. 

We launched this hoody last month and put it in the fr. shop when it was 30 degrees Celsius outside. But people always seemed to stop and feel the fabric and wanted to learn more about it. Some people bought them right away and some wanted to wait until the weather was going to change, which is now. 

I live in this hooded jacket - I only have a black one because I am trying too keep my wardrobe as simple as possible. It goes perfectly with my 3 year old RGT jeans and an FR. T-shirt. It's great for hanging out on the couch watching Youtube videos on Japanese camping or motorcycle videos so I don’t crap my pants in a tight corner. 

I wear before my rides and after. 

When I get on a plane again - it will be the only piece I will travel with. 

I will never say we make the best of anything, but I can assure you that we put years into creating this hoody because I want it to be in someone's life for years. 

Making locally means - Knit here. Dyed here. Sewn here. - Not the bullshit of made in Canada, but oh yeah our fabric is from China like a lot of brands are doing. I don’t like that. We make everything here. 

If you are considering adding a new hoody to your rotation, I hope you will take some time to research why ours is built the way it's built. Because I just want to build good product the right way that lasts…

Thanks for reading.

- Ralph | fr