The title says it all. 305 has become nothing short of a phenomenon in the squash world, taking court clothing to a whole new level with personalised, innovative and vibrant designs. Joel Shields, the mastermind behind 305, gave us a recent glimpse into his world of fabric and how he has woven a successful formula into his business, which has evolved rapidly since the 2011 English Nationals.
Tell us a little about 305….How did it all start?
Joel: I’d left university and set up my own design company called 305media. 305media was something that grew from scratch. I had friends i knew from school asking me to do some freelance work for them, so I was doing bits and pieces here and there. Word of mouth eventually got round and the company began to grow organically.
How did this then branch off into 305SQUASH?
Joel: I produced t-shirts for the Nationals in 2011 for Adam Murrills, Chris Longman, Lucy Townley and a few others. They had “TEAM305” across the front, incorporated the players initials and “305media” logo on the back. I’d only done this as a small favour really, not expecting much from it other than possibly driving some more business. It must have worked because from that moment 305SQUASH was born. Adam Murrills had a good tournament too, beating Simon Parke and got through to the first round where he played Nick Matthew (the world number one at the time), which helped showcase the tee’s and lead to the first order from a spectator. It’s quite funny when I look back at that now, as it all started with those 6 t-shirts!
Why do you think 305 clothing has become so popular?
Joel: It’s really popular with juniors. All the juniors like wearing bright colours and having their name or initials on tops, actually not just juniors, adults too! We personalise all the clothing on request, so that’s a big selling point.
We’re in hard times at the moment and as a company, we do try hard to keep the prices as competitive as we can, without having to compromise with quality. It’s early days still yet, but once we grow things and test products, the quality will keep going up. It’s important to keep raising the bar.
From all the feedback, it seems like we’ve hit the nail on the head with what players want from their clothing. It’s comfortable, deals with the sweat, washes/dry’s easily, it’s thin material, which is ideal for playing in, especially in hot conditions. I don’t think I’ve had one bad comment so far!
It seems like the girls are really enjoying wearing the kit and being part of 305 too.
Joel: Definitely. I’ve had Lucy Beecroft and Nele Gilis wearing the kit for a while now, which has helped spread the word, not just in England. Those guys are great ambassadors for the game also, they’re fantastic. Tory-Temple Murray has also come on board with us recently which is exciting. Tory has been doing so well recently winning the Europeans and climbing highly in the WSA rankings, it’s great to have her representing 305.
Squash is likened to a close-knit family in so many respects and all the players are seeing each other regularly. The guys talk to each other almost daily, so 305 has spread all over the world! I make sure we help support the players over Facebook and Twitter too.
You’ve recently sponsored Laura Massaro who is a top WSA player. How has her endorsement affected the brand?
Joel: It’s so exciting. Laura is a great role model for anyone who wants to make it to the top in squash. This goes for males and females alike of course! Laura is one of those players who have earned respect of others around her because of her professionalism. She’s an asset to squash above all else and she really likes the kit which definitely reassures people about the quality of the clothing. Laura is the world number 2 after all!
What’s next for you? Have you any new products coming soon?
Joel: It’s the end of the season now for us, so we’re coming out with a new fresh range for September. We’ve just released the new base layers which have gone down really well and the new shorts also. The slogan tee’s are already out, which I’ve really enjoyed designing and seem to have had positive responses from players.
And have you had any thought where 305 might be in the future?
Joel: Yeah of course. I’d like to see it branch out into other sports as I’ve already designed kit for running clubs, athletics and tennis, but my first love is and always will be squash. It’s a case of building things in the right way, so once I’m happy with what 305 have done in squash, we can look at other sports.