Sisters Jewel Jones and Amanda Roth have spent the past two years collaborating on a project to provide comfortable, functional garments geared specifically toward truckers.
It’s a niche that falls somewhere between Carhartt work wear and workplace uniforms, Roth said. The potential market could be huge when you consider that 3.5 million people drive trucks for a living.“We don’t use the word fashion, we use the word function,” Jones said. “They’re pro-functional work wear for truckers.”
The new line of trucker-specific garments was introduced recently at Billings-based Meadow Lark, a company that provides a variety of trucking-related services such as transportation and supply management, freight brokerage and owner-operator fleets.
OTR, http://www.overtheroadapparel.com/ is Meadow Lark’s newest subsidiary.
The project got started a couple of years ago while Jones was completing her degree in fashion at the Art Institute of California-Hollywood.
She told her sister that she was looking for a senior internship. Roth, who is chief executive of the company that her father founded more than 30 years ago, mentioned that she had been thinking about the need for a line of clothing for truckers.
Jones jumped at the idea, and Over the Road Apparel was born. As part of the design process, she interviewed truckers and asked them about their needs.
She was surprised by what she learned. Truckers wanted garments that shed dirt and perspiration, didn’t wrinkle and didn’t bind or chafe during long hours of driving.
The line features snap-front shirts tailored in either a traditional or a western cut, with plenty of pockets to accommodate cell phones, pens and notebooks.
Truckers prefer snaps because they’re easier to put on, and you don’t lose buttons, Jones said.
OTR’s T-shirts are breathable 100 percent polyester knit, and are treated to combat odor-causing bacteria.
Jones has been interested in fashion ever since she was a child. Like her sister, she started working at Meadow Lark when she was a teenager growing up in Billings.
“She has always been a clothes horse,” said her father, Rick Jones, founder of Meadow Lark.
While developing the product line, she asked truckers to test prototype garments at work, and they were a big hit. Truckers’ spouses also appreciated how OTR’s clothes fit and how easy they were to launder.
Trucking companies often have a challenge hiring qualified drivers. Roth said OTR clothing helps to instill a sense of pride for drivers.
“When you look good, you feel good about yourself,” she said.
The clothing will be launched at the Great American Trucking Show to take place in August. “We’ll have drivers demonstrate them in a fashion show,” Roth said.
Jones plans to add trousers within a few months, and a women’s line is also in the works.
“The way you reconstruct the garments to fit a women’s body is so detailed,” she said. “You have to add darts so that it’s more flattering.”
Building brand awareness is part of the launch.
“OTR is industry jargon for a long-haul driver,” Jones said. “They’re driving long distances, living in their trucks. They’re alone from their families, and they know what it’s like to live that hard life. There’s an awareness, an essence.”