Kerrits sprouted from humble roots. The journey began when founder Kerri Kent took $50 and her passion for windsurfing to the fabric store in hopes of designing a swimsuit for women that would stay in place. With no money to spare, her patterns were made from paper bags and her fit models were local windsurfing friends. Once sewn, Kerri took her suits to the beach and sold them out of her gear bag. With the money earned, Kerri bought more fabric and made more suits – reminiscent of the little shoe maker! When the word around town was “Where can I find the girl that makes those Kerrits suits?”, Kerri knew it was time to open a retail store.
Cultivating Kerri’s dream, the retail store in downtown Hood River, OR opened in 1986, with the wholesale business emerging soon after. In addition to selling suits “off-the-rack”, Kerrits offered custom-made swim suits. Customers could choose their fabric and style, and were measured for a custom fit that focused on the needs of women – accentuating assets and hiding problem areas by using prints to divert the eye. Kerrits built a wealth of data that translated into better fitting and performing athletic swimwear and activewear.
As Kerrits grew, so did our reputation. In 1991 The Oregonian wrote a feature on Kerri and the unique windsurfing inspired designs by Kerrits. Shortly after, a similar article appeared in The New York Times, mentioning Kerri’s wish to expand into another of her passions - creating a performance apparel line for women who rode horses. The article intrigued the CEO of Eisers, a well-known equestrian company. He called and asked Kerri to design a line for their On Course brand. A simple pack of carrot seeds for the hangtag, and Kerrits Performance Equestrian Apparel was born.
The equestrian line followed the niche that made Kerrits swimsuits so popular – functional clothing that looked great too. Up until then, equestrian wear was traditional in fabric and styling. Kerrits featured performance fabrics, brighter colors, and new styles never seen in equestrian fashion. We used our database of women’s measurements for a guide in finding the perfect fit. It started out as a small line of just 5 coordinating pieces, but from there the brand took root. You can still find our signature Houndstooth Performance Tight in retail stores today.
By the fall of 2005, Kerrits equestrian division had experienced exponential growth. The retail and wholesale swim and activewear division was still in business, but was part of a large playing field with many big companies as competition. The decision was made to focus on the equestrian line and thus sell Kerrits swim and activewear division.
The result was even better than expected! Throughout the years we have built a strong team of women. We value the input of our customers, team riders and product testers. We are committed to providing innovative and functional performance apparel designed for the specific needs of women who ride and love horses. We are proud to manufacture all of our breeches in the USA. We, like you, are riders, and realize that every riding experience is unique. We invite you to continue the ride with us as we harvest a fresh crop of Kerrits each season.
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