With early feedback for Rugged Robe, creators Marc and Julie Lawrence say there’s been no confusion about their new apparel line.
“You know what this is,” Marc said. “You can ski in it. You can hang out in it. You can snowshoe in it.”
Rugged Robe is a lightweight, waterproof, comfy robe that fits over any outfit, the couple said, and can appeal to anyone from farmers to horseback riders to resort-goers to people working from home.
“In the short amount of time of wearing it around, people have been asking, ‘Where did you get that?’ It has a real ‘wow factor’ to it,” Julie said.
While the Lawrences are taking pre-sales on their website — ruggedrobe.com — they also plan to launch an online funding campaign through Kickstarter to finance their first run of robes in the next 30 days or so. It can be found through their website when it goes live, the couple said.
This week, Marc is in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Winter Outdoor Sports Retail Expo & Conference. He said he’s hoping to make connections with retailers and customers and arrange a spot at the summer expo.
“I sit and think that there are so many possibilities (with Rugged Robe),” Julie said. “It’s thrilling.”
Marc and Julie have lived in Sequim full-time since 2007 with Marc working in commercial finance and real estate, and Julie as a photographer and designer. Both maintain a hobby farm with organic vegetables and lavender in the Happy Valley area.
It was there where Marc said he found himself tending to animals, fixing fences and riding on his four-wheeler while wearing a robe. He was going through a few year, he said.
Then the couple fully embraced the Rugged Robe concept during the pandemic.
“We were kicking it around for some time from home,” Marc said. “Then COVID hit and we thought, ‘Let’s see where we can take this.”
Julie, who designed the look, said she grew up with a love for sewing following her mom’s passion, and made her own clothes and followed fashion in college.
Local coastlines and landscapes served as inspiration for the robe, Julie said, with a mountain panel on the back of the robe also embodying “all the incredible beauty we have here.”
Some of the promotional shots include Julie’s photos and Marc in the robe on Hurricane Ridge.
Patents and trademarks are pending for Rugged Robe in the U.S., Canada and across the globe, the couple said, and several more prototypes are in development.
The Kickstarter will offer what the Lawrences call the “300 series” robe with stretch funding goals to offer more colors, a Windbloc series, and a women’s version.
With its versatility, Rugged Robe should appeal to both men and women, they said.
“You can throw it over whatever you’re wearing,” Marc said. “It’s built oversized to go over clothes.”
The women’s robe will be cut slightly differently than the men’s robes (design photos indicate it’ll be about two inches shorter), Julie said.
There will also be wholesale options for licensing and embroidery, such as for lodges and resorts.
“With the feedback we’ve been receiving from social media and person-to-person, it’s been ‘you get me’ with this robe,” Julie said.
“It’s all lifestyles — skiing, ranching, and even for walking the dog. I love that.”
As they’ve progressed with the garment, the robe has become six inches longer, and they’ve added more pockets, Marc said.
Make and material
The couple said they’ve given an enormous amount of attention to every detail of the robe as it features more than 50 pieces to construct. Rugged Robe uses Polartec fleece to make it durable water repellent, and lightweight.
They also use a material on the bottom of the robe for durability called Diamond Ripstop, a sustainable polyester fabric made from recycled bottles (Bisphenol-A, BPA-free).
Being sustainable is an important part of their robe, the couple said, as their robes’ Polartec materials meet rigorous standards for toxic chemicals and pollution.
“We want to be as eco-conscious and carbon neutral as possible,” Marc said.
Each robe is currently handmade in Seattle, and they’ve set a goal to move production to the Olympic Peninsula depending on stretch goals through the online campaign.
A few other robe features include:
• Snaps at the top and bottom to prevent air from blowing into bottom of the robe.
• No metal, except in small rivets in the armpits for ventilation.
• About 3-and-a-half yards of fleece.
“We took everything we could think of to cover every base and be versatile,” Marc said. “I even sleep in mine.”
Julie adds, “This thing is so comfortable; it only weighs 3 pounds, is breathable and will stand up to the elements.”
As preparations continue, the Lawrences say they are still pinpointing pricing for each robe style.
“It’s all the best quality fabrics you can get,” Marc said.