Senchi Designs: The Breathable Fleece Hoodie You Never Knew Existed!

Startup StoriesAmy Hatch

 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


With a fresh take on fleece hoodies, Senchi Designs isn’t just dipping its toe into the world of cottage backpacking gear; in a lot of ways, it’s taking it by storm. With each new drop, the fledgling brand out of Portland, Oregon typically sells through its inventory in mere minutes. 

What makes Senchi Hoodies so sizzlin’ hot? It has a lot to do with the material they're made from: Polartec Alpha. A relatively new fabric, it’s a tightly woven lattice of synthetic loft and fibers that features 2-way stretch and incorporates recycled materials. The signature characteristic of Polartec Alpha is that it’s extremely breathable, while also providing ample insulation. 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie

 

Senchi Designs Founder, Ryan Windus, first got the idea of using Polartec Alpha for technical outdoor apparel after coming across a boxy sweatshirt made from the fabric. While Ryan didn’t love the fit of that particular piece — it was designed as if for cotton — he was quite impressed by the material’s unique properties. 

So he bought a few yards of Polartec Alpha, set up shop in his garage, and it’s been a “long-winded experiment” ever since.  

Ryan sold his first few Senchi hoodies on Reddit, where he used direct customer feedback to tweak and refine his designs. With time, he added a gusseted under-arm to allow for easier movement, designed a fitted hood, and worked his way through the tedious process of creating patterns — originally done with cereal boxes. 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


“It’s been all homemade in our garage for the last year,” Ryan says. “I can do a lot of things; the last thing I thought I was ever capable of doing was owning a business.” 

Senchi is something of a side gig for Ryan, one that he does while working his way through nursing school. And, frankly, he likes it this way. It means less pressure to turn a profit and a lot more focus on fun, as well as furthering the values that are important to him. 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


“I love the outdoors, but at the same time I also kinda hate the gear industry,” he says, referring to the competitive, influencer, bro-brah culture so prevalent in action sports. “I think the outdoors can be a really communal, really collaborative and welcoming space.” 

Ryan tries not to take himself or his small brand too seriously — it’s named after a mispronunciation of a Justin Bieber lyric after all. But that doesn’t mean he has a half-assed approach to life, or business. 

“I’m the type of person, when I’m into something, I’m 100% in,” Ryan says, whether that’s enjoying the simplicity and solitude of backpacking, giving his all to nursing school, or pulling rad stunts on roller blades. 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


This mentality also applies to Senchi, and has certainly contributed to the brand’s success.

“A lot of bigger companies are focused on adding things to a piece instead of taking away,” Ryan says. “I think it’s not really on their radar to design something that has less features but with the benefit of really enhanced breathability.” 

Ryan underscores the importance of using a Senchi hoodie within a layering system. “It’s not an all-purpose piece of gear,” he says. “The wind will whip through it. That’s a good thing when you’re hot.” 

But when a chill creeps in, it’s important to have a rain jacket or other shell handy to put over a Senchi fleece; this will turn the garment into something akin to a synthetic jacket. 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


In fact, it’s as insulation within synthetic jackets that Polartec Alpha has mostly made its mark on the outdoor industry to date. Senchi stands alone as the first to use it as “next to skin” fabric by turning it into a fleece. 

“It’s perfect for those who are doing a lot of active, outdoor adventures, and those who really understand what a layering system is,” Ryan says. “It's about having simple things you rely on and trust. It’s about trusting your gear.”

Ryan adds,“Like any other ultralight piece of gear, it's less durable than other options.”

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


Ryan’s biggest challenge in launching Senchi has been keeping up with ever-growing demand and, as a people pleaser, inevitably disappointing those who miss the lightning-speed drops.

To alleviate the inventory bottle-neck, Ryan recently started working with a local cut and sew company — one that provides its employees benefits, and also does a fantastic job. “I’m really grateful to have a supplier we trust,” Ryan said. 

Senchi has also recently grown into a two-person operation, with Ryan’s close friend and roommate, Bana Mulholland, now officially on the team. “I’ve literally been doing everything myself for so long,” Ryan says. “It feels really great to integrate Bana into the company. She’s a badass!” 

In addition to Senchi, Bana works part-time at Planned Parenthood — and in a fun, full-circle twist, Senchi has been able to make $500 donations to Planned Parenthood after its last two drops.

That has to do with the brand’s ethos of “creating cool things and giving back to other organizations that need it more than we do,” Ryan explains.   
 

Shenchi Designs Alpha Polartec Breathable Fleece Hoodie


Toward the end of our interview, I asked Ryan what he would love to be saying about Senchi three years from now. His response: 

“I would love to think we have a small community of people who feel like they can be themselves outside and feel accepted for who they are, and don't feel like they have to abide by the industry or gear culture. I would love to be able to build a community of people who love being outside because of the simplicity aspect of connecting to nature and not connecting to gear. Thinking about gear too much can really limit our experience of being outside.”



Garage Grown Gear is both fortunate and excited to be releasing our own Senchi Designs drop of 100 hoodies later this month! If you’re not already signed up for our newsletter, be sure to put your name on the list to be the first to find out! 





Startup stories

19 comments

SA

SA

People who are so fervently against PP probably should do a background check on…well everything they purchase or consume. The outspoken ignorance of the woketivists is comical to say the least.

Josjt

Josjt

Love my Senchi. I was lucky enough to get one a couple drops ago. It’s hyper breathable, extremely warm for it’s weight (especially under a shell) and only weighs 5.3oz for an XL. I’ve taken it on multiple trips since getting it and used it for everything from an active layer to wearing around camp and even as a sleep layer. If you know how to layer properly, it excels in each of these roles. The fact that Ryan donates to PP only makes me like the little company more.

Derb

Derb

Since many reading this are morally repulsed by the social proclivities of this small company to be vocal about it in the comments and therefore refraining from ever buying a Senchi, this opens eager sales opportunities to those of us unconcerned by such things.
When is this drop happening and are there any more details? Only 7 more days of “later this month” left.

Not a YT Man

Not a YT Man

Love these comments of YT people virtue signaling, we salute you, you are so brave for telling the world you won’t be supporting a product because the founders are supporting communities who don’t have access to resources many of you do. The world is a better place knowing you all are out there patrolling cottage brands :) Gosh I think an angel just got it’s wings, you know what’d look good on that angel, a Senchi designs hoodie

Haley

Haley

Glad to know where to put my dollar. As an outdoors woman I’ll never give a cent to planned parenthood. I support health and wellness for my gender, not pharmaceutical poisoning and genocide.

Extwo

Extwo

A couple comments.
Is this the same fabric Rab is using in its Alpha Flash jacket? If so, it is an excellent fabric for keeping warm in edge seasons with heavy activity. By not having a shell it allows really excellent ventilation, wicks sweat, dries fast, and with the addition of a wind shirt dramatically increases warmth. Next to skin base layer better than using as a midlayer, imo . I like it.
As for Mark’s diatribe on PP-: your agenda to smear PP is inappropriate here.
-Old Retired Nurse here, Yes to more guys entering the profession!

Ryan

Ryan

I’m so glad that all these people are pissed off about the Planned Parenthood donations, so there is a better chance I can snag one on the next drop.

Amy Hatch

Amy Hatch

Thanks for the questions re: price. Answer: $75.

As for the other comments, I think Travis said it best …

Travis

Travis

lol, OK mark. it’s literally an article about a sweater.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

PLANNED PARENTHOOD? Let me enlighten you KIDS. I was 1st in Europe only 15 years after WORLD WAR 2. That being said….ATHEIST Margaret Sanger started PLANNED PARENTHOOD and here is one of her many INSIDIOUS quotes. (and this is from TIME.COM) “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members,” she wrote. Also, Bill Gates Dad was PRESIDENT of PP and Bill is a KNOWN EUGENECIST (So were Nazi’s). So IF you support that Godless, Murderous group you can BUCK OFF. I will NEVER send you a dime for any reason whatsoever.

Russ

Russ

Let’s see; less durable, the wind whips right thru it, needs an outer shell layer for it to provide some unquantifiable amount of warmth? Sounds like a winner to me. But I’ll pass it on to my teenage niece, maybe she’d be interested in something to “hang out” in with her friends that is light and airy, that is “recycled”, is almost like wearing nothing at all, but still covers her up, because “the colors are nice”.

Rico

Rico

At least I know what companies to no longer support. Glad I read this before making a purchase.

Jeff

Jeff

Maybe less about your patting yourself on the back for working at and supporting planned parenthood and talk about price, weights and sizes.

Christy Armstrong

Christy Armstrong

I’m interested! Love the colors. When can I get one? Oh, and price needs to be shown.

Doug Minkler

Doug Minkler

Hi Ryan, I like the idea of layering from a long time ago. Can you tell me the approx weight of your Breathable Fleece Hoodie I am 5 ft 10 inches?
I have a light weight capalene hoody made by pantagonia but the idea if a layer with more loft seems to have more potential for use to stay warm? was that your intention?
The issue of odor is still a issue with polyester unless you have a treated fabric?

Brian Fairweather

Brian Fairweather

I am really excited about this! Way to go GGG for the add. Now the wait…………. ⏰

Jane Wertz

Jane Wertz

Price is needed please

Summit Seeker

Summit Seeker

Going to be interesting to see what happens to this brand. If they are looking for a small community of fans they just might achieve it.

Todd

Todd

How much do they cost?

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