We spend a lot of time thinking about what we put in our bodies – but what about what we put on them? In today’s world, many of the apparel brands we shop for regularly are made with polyester, a material that is less than ideal. Not only can polyester irritate skin and smell bad, it’s actually derived from petroleum – yikes!
So what’s the alternative? I recently was introduced to tasc Performance, an athletic wear brand based in New Orleans, Louisiana with the mission of reinventing performance apparel through natural fibers.
Founded in 2009, tasc Performance uses organic bamboo sourced from the Sichuan Province in China from a forest that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Their unique blend of bamboo + merino wool results in a fabric that is smooth, soft and fine, allowing you to move freely and feel great whether you’re at the gym or just running errands.
I talked with tasc Performance’s founders, the Andrews family, about how two years of research went into their innovative fabrics, their business successes and struggles, and what it’s like to run an athletic apparel company in the south.
Also check out my review on some of the latest products.
Q: How did the idea for “tasc Performance” come to be?
Tasc Performance came to life with one mission: the reinvention of performance apparel. tasc’s founders, Al and Todd Andrews, were tired of the compromises of polyester athletic gear, and set out to a find a solution.
Two years of natural fiber research and textile engineering resulted in a fabric that excelled beyond measure. Not only does our fabric feel great on the skin, it is naturally loaded with performance benefits that do not come from chemical additives.
Our signature Bamboo Performance Technology™ fabric, MOSOtech™, naturally adapts to any condition and provides you with unmatched lightweight comfort. It wicks moisture, blocks odor, breathes, and protects from the sun (Bamboo is naturally UPF 50+). It features everything one looks for in a performance fabric, and those features will never wash out.
We also ensure our natural materials are sourced from certifiably organic and sustainable forests and fields. Our fabrication process uses a closed-loop method, which recycles and reuses 99% of the solution used to create our fibers. We hold ECOCERT®, FSC®, OCIA®, and Oeko-Tex® 100 certifications.
Q: How do you find inspiration for designs?
Jessica Walther, Tasc Performance designer:
Our design inspiration comes from several different areas: fabric innovation, functionality, and overall aesthetic progression. We take all feedback and suggestions on designs very seriously. We incorporate new ideas concerning the functional aspects of our clothing into fresh designs each season. We are driven by the feel and look of our MOSOtech™ fabric and creating new textures and knits within our collections makes each season exciting. We work as a team to create the designs for each season and everyone pulls inspiration from different sources. I personally pull inspiration from nature – the veins on a leaf could be translated into the seams on a tight and the petals of a flower could turn into the layers of a top. Nature is the best painter and I often discover new color palettes by spending time in the outdoors. I also pull inspiration for color from the incredibly colorful architecture we are surrounded by in New Orleans. Homeowners here are not shy about trying new and loud color combinations, which translate well into the activewear sphere.
Q: How have you seen the consumer market shift to care more about clothing they are buying?
We see it every day as our fan base grows. There is an overarching health and wellness trend that you see taking hold across the nation, which is great. People want to use products that make them feel good (about themselves and the environment), and we provide something that does both.
We have received numerous comments, reviews and e-mails from consumers either praising our transparency, or seeking more information, which we are more than happy to provide. It shows us there is an interest in what we’re making and how we’re making it, and that there’s research-backed decision-making taking place by consumers.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of the business? And biggest reward?
Growth. We’re growing so fast, it is becoming hard to keep up. We all wear a lot of different hats and manage an assortment of responsibilities, which can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?
We are a family-owned business operating in New Orleans, LA. In fact, the word “tasc” is an acronym for the first four letters of the names of the family members who own the company.
t- Todd Andrews
a – Al Andrews
s – Scott Andrews
c – Cindy Andrews
The New Orleans aspect comes as a surprise to a lot of people. A fitness apparel company operating in the heart of the South? You would be surprised at how well our products work in Louisiana! We are in the thick of summer, and it is sweltering outside, so tasc is ideal to wear whether you are running errands or running through Audubon Park.
The Andrews family also has deep ties to this city (Al was a Tulane basketball standout and All-American), and they are heavily involved in the active community here. From how the media portrays us, you would not think an “active community” exists in New Orleans, but we are seeing it in full form through rapidly expanding running clubs, CrossFit gyms, and free fitness classes like November Project. Local farmers markets and juice bars are popping up everywhere, and we are a part of that push toward a healthier and more active New Orleans. Oh, and let’s face it, New Orleans is an amazing city!
We even outfitted a local running club and let them test our gear through the French Quarter – You can watch that here.