FLATB products are designed for everyone, in particular those of a bigger size overlooked by other brands. They combine technically advanced fabrics with comfort, rounded off with an unapologetic signature style. But it’s not just about filling a gap in the market. Fat Lad At The Back exists to break down stereotypes and make cycling an accessible sport for everyone.
Reviews play a huge role in that mission. They allow the brand to improve its products and showcase top notch customer service, yes. But they do so much more than that. They bring together consumers facing a common issue. Through review content, those consumers not only learn about the brand - they discover a growing community of like minded people owning their body type.
That’s precisely why co-founder Lynn Bye had concerns when they made the switch from Yotpo to REVIEWS.io. Though they made the move early on as a business, they didn’t want to lose the valuable customer feedback they’d already collected. This is something we come across a lot, but as Fat Lad At The Back found out, we’ve taken every care to make the transfer of reviews a simple, pain free process.
Co-founder Richard Bye is the original ‘fat lad at the back’ - a term of endearment given by his cycling mates and proudly worn. But, as a larger man, what he struggled with was finding clothing to fit. He realised there were likely countless others in the same position, so turned his nickname into a brand with purpose.
That purpose isn’t just to kit out plus size cyclists, but also to support them - to encourage them to get on their bikes with confidence:
“Talking to the community, to the customers we’ve got, not feeling like you’re wearing the right clothes is a massive hurdle into cycling. Feeling that you don’t belong, feeling that you’re not part of it. It’s a huge barrier.”
It’s subtle things the brand has taken into account. Things like the removal of unflattering horizontal stripes and careful pattern placement to suit all body types. And there’s no compromise on performance, with the same technical advancements you’d find in all leading cycle wear.
But you won’t go unnoticed in a Fat Lad At The Back jersey. The designs are all about owning the joke, with everything from ice cream to beer incorporated in the prints. It’s a case of ‘I am who I am, and I’m doing what I love.’
“We’re not a subtle brand. It’s all about that real gutsy, in your face Yorkshire sense of humour. The whole thing is about having fun on a bicycle.”
The brand’s mission has certainly had a positive impact. So much so that there’s a FLATB community known as ‘Flampions’ - brand advocates that have formed their own inclusive cycling groups. With around 60 groups across the UK, these customers clearly feel a strong affiliation with the brand and share its values.
And it seems the industry as a whole is taking note too, albeit slowly. Though there’s a change in the air, Fat Lad At The Back remains the leading name in plus size cycle wear:
I think we shook up the industry quite a lot. I’ve seen now lots of people have started adding extra sizes into their range, but they’re tentatively doing it. I think our cycle wear is still the biggest out there.
Ethics and sustainability are also part of the brand's ethos. There’s a lot of greenwashing in the industry, where brands make unsubstantiated claims on sustainability (a topic we recently discussed in our interview with Non Plastic Beach). FLATB ensures ethical production, and bypasses throw away culture by making products that last for years.
FLATB has always seen the value in customer reviews, and how they can contribute to the growth of a niche brand. When they moved over to a new website, they took the opportunity to switch from Yotpo to REVIEWS.io, for a whole host of reasons:
It was the combination of features, clarity, cost. How it integrated with Shopify, what it looked like on the site, how easy it was for people to use. It was a combination of all of those things.
In making the switch, the biggest concern was that they’d lose the reviews they’d already collected through Yotpo. This is something we come across a lot, but as FLATB found out, we’ve taken every care to make the transfer of reviews a simple, pain free process.
The brand’s approach to review management shows top level customer service. They aim to mitigate negative reviews by making sure problems are resolved before a customer feels the need to leave negative feedback. And in cases where it does occur, they handle it the right way:
We take them seriously. If we find a negative review and it’s something we can sort out, or something where we’ve dropped the ball, then we pick it up and have a conversation with them.
But of course, it’s the positive reviews that do most of the talking, and what our solution enables them to do is achieve real authenticity through UGC. It helps build that sense of inclusivity, and gives those interested in the sport the confidence boost they need:
That user generated content is really important. For a lot of new cyclists that are in our size demographic, they have probably already bought cycle wear that didn’t fit them and they’re probably feeling a bit demoralised. So actually seeing somebody who’s the same size as them, or similar, makes them go - hang on a minute, yes, I’ve got this.
Massive kudos to Fat Lad At The Back, Lynn Bye and the team with what they’ve achieved. It’s no easy feat changing the image of a sport to make it more accessible, but the team has managed to do just that. And we’re thrilled to be part of the process.