From a ramshackle operation to manufacturing baselayers of the highest quality – these indie guys have one hell of a journey
As you might expect from this laidback British brand, the name began as a joke. Burnt Custard? Why name an outdoor apparel brand after a culinary mishap? The answer is simple: they never expected it to get them this far.
Several years ago, founders Chris, Ash and Phil were flogging t-shirts on the slopes of Des Alpes to fund their season abroad, with a steady diet of bananas and custard for fuel. The thing is, the apparel started to catch on, not least thanks to their impromptu brand name inspired by rough and ready student living: Burnt Custard. After visiting their chalet – strewn, as you might expect, with burnt custard pans – a friend suggested the name in jest and it, like its namesake, stuck instantly.
The thing is, it works. Burnt Custard’s products are designed to present a more fun, stylish alternative to the orthodoxy of outdoor apparel, and the name suits that perfectly. That’s why the guys decided to bring it out of retirement when they started making baselayers. You see, on return to the UK after their stint in Des Alpes, they’d parted ways – Chris to study fabric technology at university, Ash to Cotswolds Outdoor to work on retail and digital marketing. Their time studying done, they decided to join forces once more to produce what they’d identified as missing on their various ski seasons. Namely, a high-performance, multi-functional baselayer with a bold, visually arresting style.
Baselayers, though, are inherently more difficult to design and produce than the t-shirts that had kickstarted Burnt Custard. Chris’ family’s background lies in manufacturing and technical outdoor wear, which solved a lot of problems as far as expertise goes, but they also recruited a fabric manufacturer in Nottingham to help develop a unique fabric. For their baselayers to truly rise above the competition, they couldn’t just look good – they needed to perform. To that end, they developed a Meryl microfiber woven with a nylon yarn, which can move seamlessly in and out of water without losing its soft touch. Plus, sourcing their materials from Nottingham kept production and haulage strictly inside the UK.
And with that, they set to work. Using a few sewing machines stashed in a shed in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, the guys developed prototypes that, frankly, blew their expectations out the water. These baselayers were good. Moisture wicking, comfortable on the skin, compressive, stylish; name something you’d like to see in an outdoor sports baselayer and the new range covered it. Soon, demand for Burnt Custard products allowed them to upgrade facilities to a specialised workshop in Chippenham, affectionately nicknamed Custard Mountain. From there, they have developed their products – with the insights from industry experts and professional athletes – into what they are today: technically astute baselayers that are as versatile as they are stylish.
These days, you’re as likely to see someone sporting Burnt Custard on horseback as you are on the slopes; they’ve even managed to branch into lawn boules, though we’re still figuring that one out. With plans to develop a new range of tees and shorts in the pipeline, the guys aren’t resting on their laurels either. What they’re most excited about, though, is getting back out on their skis to test the new products. That’s where it all began for Burnt Custard, and it’d be remiss for them not to return to the mountains – bananas and custard on standby, of course.