The climbing industry is full of innovative and creative people who use their talents to come up with ways that we climbers can have an even better experience on the wall. The past few decades have given us lighter gear, better and harder ways to train, and opened up countless new routes in beautiful places that will keep us climbing for as long as we could possibly want. And now, thanks to a fun new company out of the UK called 3rd Rock, we even get clothing designed specifically for climbing! We sat down with the founder of 3rd Rock, Jessica Mor, to learn a little more about the climbing-focused, responsibly-made clothing her company produces.
CXC: Tell me a little about yourself–where did you grow up, and what got you into climbing?
JM: I grew up in Derbyshire in the UK, a beautiful place with lots of gritstone, which you would think would be where I started climbing at a young age–but it wasn’t! I ended up falling upon climbing and an obsession for it in Waterval Boven in South Africa. I was traveling to “find myself” after being unfulfilled from working in the London fashion industry as a pattern cutter for catwalk designers. I love being outdoors and seeing the new places that climbing takes you, but mostly I love the freedom it allows, and being able to forget all the stresses and problems of life.
CXC: What was the catalyst for creating 3rd Rock? Did you see a gap in the activewear market that inspired you to design your “climbwear” line? Why are your pieces so unique and suitable for climbing specifically?
JM: The catalyst was feeling that my work in the fashion industry was not of use. I felt that it was destructive to the environment, and that I was contributing to a part of the fast fashion consumer culture. I wanted to make useful clothing that could be worn to death, and I wanted to make it responsibly. I fell in love with climbing in the midst of my “inner turmoil”, and the fact that I couldn’t find clothing that fulfilled my movement needs that also looked great made me want to make it myself. So I started making the clothing I wanted and self-tested the styles until I was happy. My designs are unique because they are movement cut–regular activewear tops would rise up when you’d reach above you, leggings weren’t stretchy or conducive for high-stepping, and I just generally didn’t like the style. I realized that the garments don’t need to be really baggy or excessively stretchy to achieve maximum movement. Our pieces still fit beautifully, move amazingly, and are extremely comfortable, which are the most important things we need from our climbwear. I also don’t scrimp on aesthetics or quality durable fabrics. So ultimately, our climbwear needs to tick lots of boxes.
CXC: One of your design principles is to “use thought-provoking prints that highlight important issues”. What are some of the issues you hope to bring to light with your clothing?
JM: We focus on a few issues: Save the Bees, Rhino Poaching, and Palm Oil and Deforestation. These are issues that are of personal interest but that we also feel are globally important. I’ve always been interested in conservation (I studied ecology in school before I got into fashion), so I appreciate that I can now make clothing that is environmentally responsible, and use it as a platform to help spread the word about these issues. Climbing goes hand in hand with conservation, so issues like these fall on great ears within our community. They’re close to our hearts, and climbers tend to value the efforts of companies that focus on conservation and environmentalism. The earth is our playground, after all.
Working in the 3rd Rock studio
CXC: Why is using organic, recycled materials so important to you? How does that relate to the responsibility of climbers as conservationists?
JM: Using organic and recycled fabrics is our way of trying to produce our garments in a more sustainable way. It’s not only about the fibers, but it’s related to fair trade, the well-being of the farmers and their families, and it also keeps the soil and water systems in better shape without pesticides. Using certified organic fibers comes along with all of the above. I think climbers can relate to the environmental aspect of clothing production as we are nature-oriented. Our planet is our playground and we need to look after and preserve what we love.
CXC: How do you manage a business, a family, and climbing? Do you ever feel like you have to sacrifice one for the others?
JM: It’s been a difficult few months juggling a baby and a business, and I don’t always manage to juggle them both well all the time. It’s very challenging, but totally worth it! I get a lot of help from my partner, Guy, and my mother has been indispensable, and I would not have been able to do it without them. I’ve tried to keep a balance, and sometimes feel that I’m doing neither well, but then I take a step back and look at the bigger picture and realize that I’m not superwoman, and I’m doing ok, and I don’t need to beat myself up. Now that my son is a little older, I’m hoping to get a little more of a routine in place and some sanity with it (I hear that one day I’ll sleep again too, which I can’t wait for!). My climbing has unfortunately taken a back seat until last month, but recently we’ve been able to go on a few climbing trips where we trade babysitting responsibilities with some friends. It’s been a good system to get back on the wall, and also to introduce the baby to the outdoors!
CXC: How often do you get to climb for fun? What’s your favorite spot you’ve ever been to?
JM: I’ve just started climbing regularly again after having the baby, and for now it’s pretty much the gym once a week, with an outside climb on the weekend if we can. But, as the baby gets older and we can take him out more, I’ll be able to get outside more. As far as my favorite place, we actually just got back from Siurana, Spain, and it’s an amazing place! Absolutely stunning with amazing climbs. However, I’ve also really loved climbing tufas in Thailand!
CXC: What are your plans for the future of 3rd Rock? How do you see 3rd Rock fitting into the climbing industry as a whole?
JM: The plan is to continue expanding our product lines, and do better at telling our “green” story, because I feel like we don’t do it well enough and it’s probably the most important aspect of what we do. And of course, I’d like to increase our customer base all around the world (including the US!). As far as the industry, I hope we are raising the bar as to what can and should be expected from climbing clothing in terms of design, comfort and ethics.
CXC: Is there anything else you’d like for readers to know about your company?
JM: I think I’d like people to know that in the end, we are a small brand, made by people like them: we’re climbers with a great love and passion for the outdoors. We’re here for the long haul, and we listen to feedback from everyone that gives it, which helps us to continually improve and to give climbers what they really want and need. Green to the core; movement-enhanced clothing designed with love for the outdoors and climbing.