Boathouse Sports, which started as a jacket-maker for rowing teams, has grown to become a major player in the lacrosse world for jackets, warm-ups, and uniforms. And some people may be surprised to find out just how much feedback lacrosse athletes give in determining a final design of Boathouse’s products.
Based out of Philadelphia, Boathouse uses some of the best resources it has in Philly, namely the University of Pennsylvania lacrosse team. Boathouse has a strong relationship with Penn Athletics, which has allowed it to test new product and get feedback from Penn athletes before releasing it to the rest of us.
For example, when Boathouse wanted feedback on the Revolution Reversible (pictured), the Penn lacrosse team was able to provide that feedback. Players thought that the shoulder was too narrow and the uniform didn’t drape well. The cut wasn’t wide enough to sit on the shoulder and got caught in players shoulder pads. The result? Boathouse increased the width. And when the original seam that Boathouse used was snagging on velcro, boathouse moved from a flatlock seam and used a double seam to prevent the seam from getting snagged (we won’t bore you with the difference between the two – just know that they were able to change it based on that feedback).
“Essentially we are getting feedback in real time, a season ahead of when we are going to launch a product,” said Mike Fine, Marketing Director for Boathouse Sports.
That means that when Boathouse was getting that feedback from the Penn lacrosse team last fall, it was able to help make a better product that they released this year.
A history of Boathouse
Boathouse was founded in 1985 by John Strotbeck III, an Olympic rower, as a company that made the first rowing jackets that were custom-made. Over the years, Boathouse evolved its line of jackets to include lacrosse, rugby, football, and other sports in creating custom team outerwear often seen on the sidelines.
What made Boathouse unique with its outerwear is the flexibility jackets had for the athlete that other options didn’t. The way Boathouse implemented gussets on these jackets (gussets are small pieces of fabric that add breadth to the motion of a seam) allowed wearers of the product to have a fuller range of motion.
“A lot of jackets don’t have gussets,” said Fine. “They have a closed cape in the back or no cape in the back. With a gusset, it allows for more flexibility in the shoulders so you can wear that jacket when you are throwing a lacrosse ball, for instance.”
The popularity of outerwear continued to grow, especially in lacrosse, and in 1992 Boathouse launched its first uniform line on the back of the Princeton University National Championship team. Fine said Boathouse really got serious about uniforms in 2004 when they launched their sublimated uniform. Sublimation is a technique becoming increasingly popular that allows for the printing of virtually any design on a fabric.
Fine said that Boathouse is the largest company in the United States that does sublimated printing and the fact that they are based in the United States means they can turn orders around quickly, sometimes in as little as two weeks, according to Fine.
Today, Boathouse receives more revenue from lacrosse sales than any other sport.
Obviously, Boathouse plans to continue to make waves in the sport of lacrosse. Fine said that the company is looking to continue to advance its products. Some of the improvements could come in materials, where Fine said Boathouse is looking for materials to make their outerwear even more functional and breathable. Furthermore, Boathouse may expand its reversibles from the practice realm to the game realm, as the company is looking into whether they will be able to do a game uniform that is fully reversible.
For the latest on Boathouse products, you can visit www.boathousesports.com.
The Penn lacrosse team may have been able to give Boathouse feedback, but we want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on Boathouse products? Would you like to see a game reversible?