Five years ago Chad Hendren and Greg Thompson printed 50 t-shirts and three mountain bike jerseys, most of which they wore themselves or sold to friends. At the time Hendren was bashed up - a side effect of being a sponsored biker and skier - and he and Thompson were talking about the future.
"We had one of those 'What are we going to do for the rest of our lives' conversations," Hendren remembers.
He already had exposure in bike and ski magazines, but didn't have a clothing sponsor. Gear-obsessed, Hendren and Thompson realized that there was an opportunity to wear their own equipment and build a brand around themselves. They called it Dincus, a name they called each other and that stood out in a crowded marketplace.
Now the pair have a retail space, taking over an Extremely Canadian location in the mall behind Buffalo Bill's, as well as a line of clothing that includes mountain bike jerseys and shorts, socks, hats, t-shirts, hoodies and more. Starting in August they will also be launching an outerwear collection aimed at freeskiers.
"We wanted to become a four-season company rather than just two, that was always the intention," Hendren explained. "I'm really excited about it. We're doing things that no other companies are doing, as far as I know. Sometimes it's good to be small."
The company has used a professional designer for the past three years with experience working for top lifestyle companies. Their clothes attracted a lot of attention at trade shows, and now they have distributors across B.C., in Alberta, in the U.S. and in Europe. They are also slowly getting into Japan, something that will get a boost from their winter outwear lines.
But one thing that sets Dincus apart is the company's emphasis on making sustainable products that can compete on price. For example, his t-shirts, hoodies, pants and shorts are made with a blend of bamboo, a renewable material that is soft to the touch, holds water-based inks well, and that also has anti-microbial properties. One Dincus tester has worn the same socks for two weeks in a row. Next year his hats will be bamboo as well.
Compared to some brands, Hendren has also tried to keep his bamboo products affordable. For example, a t-shirt can sell for $36 to $40 that might sell for $120 at another store.
Dincus' green credentials extend into his winter outerwear line, which is made from recycled PET plastic. It's extremely waterproof and breathable, rated to 10,000 mm, and it also holds print well to allow for some different design elements. Recycled PET will also be used in Dincus's mountain bike jerseys and technical wear next summer.
The environmentally-friendly angle also extends through the company, which uses paperless invoicing and recycled paper in everything from catalogues to business cards.
"We call it eco-forward fashion," said Hendren. "From the start it was always important to us to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, but now it also makes a lot of sense because the materials are so great to wear and work with."
Dincus has also started to sponsor athletes with apparel, and their list of athletes now includes Squamish's Miranda Miller - winner of the U.S. Open downhill mountain bike race - as well as Danice Uyesugi, JS Therrien, Kyle Thomas, James McSkimming, Sami Kennedy, Paul Stevens, Adam Mantle, Dan Flahr, Matty Richard, and Beth Parsons.
But while having professional athletes is exciting, Hendren says he gets the biggest enjoyment over seeing people wear his clothes around the village.
"That was really exciting for me, the first time I saw somebody wearing Dincus that I didn't know," he said.
Dincus will show off its winter clothing in August, which will be available at their store until it reverts back to Extremely Canadian. Locally, it's also available at Fanatyk Co. and Spicy Sports.
While the economy has hit the company in what was shaping up to be a promising year, Hendren is optimistic.
"It was definitely though after tradeshows, there was great response and intent to buy, but then the economy tanked," he said. "That was a bit of a blow to us, but the good comes with the bad and I think we're in a good position when the economy recovers. More people know us, they like our stuff, and they want to carry it in their stores."