4SHAW: DION SHAW
Photography & Interview By Daniel
On our third edition of ‘About A Brand’ we have Dion Shaw, the founder of 4SHAW, a brand that is rapidly becoming one of the most recognisable and popular in the cycling world.
It was a pleasure to meet Dion recently on our photoshoot session for this interview. The experience and passion he has for cycling definitely shines through the brand. I was left inspired and like so many others, I can proudly call myself a fan of the Rainbow 4!
Let’s get straight into it and find out more about 4SHAW.
Tell us about the brand and how did it all begin?
The brand was built around socks mainly.
It all started due to me needing a name for my agency as I was working as an agent for a number of cycling/sports companies in Tasmania. 4SHAW Agencies was born in 2006.
In late 2009 I was racing quite heavily and due to having some sponsors on board and in turn the companies I represented as an agent, I found myself having to wear a different kit to each race to keep employers and sponsors happy.
I decided that 4SHAW needed a standalone cycling kit and in turn a logo. I sat down with a mate who happened to be a MTB biker and sign writer in Launceston (Nathan Fellows) until 1am one morning and kept going through different 4’s until we came up with the Rainbow 4. Given that I used to get called ‘4SHAW’ in school all of the time (of which I hated) I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. It was important that the 4 had a link to cycling… hence why it has a version of the UCI colours incorporated. I wasn't too much of a fan of the traditional UCI colours as they weren't bright and modern enough.
I had a small run of kit made for myself and attended my first race in the NEW strip. It was a 6-hour MTB race and after it had been done and dusted I had a number of people ask if they could buy it!
One thing was missing…. Socks!
I had imported a few hundred pairs of licensed socks from the US of which I was wearing. But wanted a Black 4SHAW sock to match my kit ;)
I ordered 120 pairs of 4SHAW socks of which ended up being the incorrect height so the manufacturer gave them to me and produced another at the correct height for free. This first box I began to give to athletes and key people that I knew to wear competing and started to use Facebook to get them out into the public eye (no Instagram then).
I put the rest on commission in Tasmania and quite quickly they sold out. Lucky I had another box on the way.
Word got out of the Island that we were selling socks. A Victorian Rep (Lee De Luca) and a friend at Monza Imports (Hayden Kerr) put me in touch with Malachai Moxon who was running a Cycling boutique out of Prahran called “Northside Wheelers” from there it continued to grow and grow.
I attended a trade show in Melbourne and sold through a shed load of stock but more importantly showed that we meant business! I decided to move to Melbourne and developed more and more relationships with key people on and off the bike. We started to get higher profile athletes and sporting personalities wearing the socks and dealers Nationally prior to opening a web store. I think it added the mystique of the brand…”4SHAW?….where can I buy that?”
We still have a strong Wholesale/Dealer presence, which I am very proud of as I think our dealer network is VERY important to the overall brand message. The website was only ever opened to create awareness of these dealers, supply consumers that couldn't find dealers and our International customers.
Describe the brand in 5 words.
Follow the Rainbow 4SHAW!
What inspires each range? Any key influences?
I usually sit at my office listening to back catalogue of music and use Dr Google. I tend to look at things that I have liked over the years and patterns and shapes that fit my mood.
I save a heap of images into a file and then start to sift through them. They all have to have a name and a story…doesn't matter what product I am designing or creating. NO story NO passion!
What are the highlights of the brand so far?
The highlights of the brand so far have to be the people that have got behind it…. I will be forever grateful to them… Too many to list but they know who they are. Most of them are still in TAS!
After this I would have to say my Race V2 glove. This glove I am extremely passionate about to me wanting to produce the most comfortable race glove for MTB and CX (cyclocross) on the market, but still maintaining its durability. I developed this glove from scratch with a Tassie mate (Jordy Davis) who has a brand called ‘The Shy Albatross”…. Very creative dude!
What are the future aspirations for the brand?
I really want to keep pushing the boundaries with what we produce and the manufacturers we deal with to get products that are not only good looking but comfortable and durable… This is extremely important. I really want to concentrate on distributing the brand to other countries. We are currently talking with 5 countries around the globe and hope to have the Rainbow 4 being worn in these countries by years end.
Is there a dream collaboration you would love to do?
My dream collaboration would have to be with Rickenbacker Guitars…. Know it is a little left of field but I love these instruments…. Classic styled, functional and beautiful.
Any advice you can give others wanting to start their own label?
My advice would be to have a plan… and stick to it. Make sure you get some influential people behind you and plug the hell out of it any chance you get!
And finally, tell us about the 4SHAW DYAD team and your own personal riding career.
We have two teams within the “Team" DYAD that is made up of two Tasmanian Superstars in Scott Bowden and Tom Goddard and DEUCE that is made up of two female legends…. One Tasmanian Naomi Williams and a ring in from Newcastle Bec Locke (Only joking Bec…. You are my favourite).
Each member brings a different dynamic to the team but would not be the same without any of them… I have a HUGE amount of respect for them as athletes but more importantly humans. We all get along like a family on the rare occasions we are all together!
My own cycling aspirations are now lived through the teams… I still ride, run and exercise most days but given that I am a one-man band with the brand…. Find it very hard to commit to racing these days…. Too many distractions.
I also have an extremely supportive partner and two rowdy French Bulldogs who I love spending time with and keep me busy.
I look back at racing given that I only really started racing in the late 90’s and have very fond memories. I used to love the challenge of solo MTB races, as they were a more a test against your own character rather than against another individual.
I like to thank Dion for his time and for sharing the 4SHAW story with us.
For all the latest news and stock, please check out the 4SHAW online store.