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Specialized ends women's cycling clothing brand Machines For Freedom

Published February 1, 2023

LOS ANGELES (BRAIN) — Specialized Bicycle Components has shut down women's clothing brand Machines For Freedom, which it purchased from founder Jennifer Kriske five years ago.

The decision to end the brand comes at a time when the industry is becoming more aware of the need to make clothing to fit people of all sizes.

"By leading the progressive revolution of size, inclusivity, representation, and diversity within the cycling space, and focusing on the underrepresented women's category, Machines was a beacon of inspiration," founder Jennifer Kriske said in a statement to BRAIN, after announcing the closure on Instagram. "I am saddened but hopeful that the legacy will live on. I have been cycling through feelings of both grief and gratitude. For the past decade, Machines' influence in the cycling industry has been undeniable. Our industry-leading fit process changed the game for women of all shapes and sizes, and we challenged an industry to consider riders that 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 reached for comment on Tuesday, Specialized issued a statement expressing gratefulness for the brand's inspiration to serve women riders.

"While dissolving the brand was a tough decision on both parties, the lessons learned during this partnership will continue to influence and guide the way Specialized makes women's product for the years to come."

Kriske began Machines For Freedom in 2014 before searching for a partner with the goal of filling a need in the women's cycling apparel market. Marley Blonsky, co-founder of All Bodies on Bikes, credited Machines For Freedom for enhancing her cycling enjoyment.

"Machines For Freedom sent me a kit in March 2020, and it was the first kit I wore — after nearly 10 years of riding — that actually fit," said Blonsky, whose group supports creating inclusive bike communities. "After years of wearing either ill-fitting cycling kits, or clothing not intended for biking, it was a light-bulb moment for me. I finally understood why everyone wore lycra. Their thoughtful marketing, bold designs, inclusive sizing, and community building really set them apart as a brand.

"Losing them leaves a lot of folks at a loss for where to find a good-fitting kit, especially for people on both the bigger and smaller end of the size spectrum."

However, Blonsky said she has been considering starting a clothing brand even before Machines For Freedom shut down.

"The timing is quite fortuitous," said Blonsky, who has been accepted into the University of Arkansas' Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program, which focuses on helping develop entrepreneurs' innovative outdoor industry products and services. "Practically speaking, I'm still in the idea development/customer research phase, but there is a decided lack of plus-size bike clothing out there. And I definitely have a platform to make it happen."

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