Behind the Designs with RANK 45 Product Designers

RANK 45 is a rodeo line for men and women that embodies the athlete’s attitude and offers functional, purpose-built performance pieces fit to compete in the rodeo arena. RANK 45 symbolizes the unrivaled athlete and the year the extreme sport of rodeo made an important shift to protect them. This is a brand made for extremes: extreme performance, protection, endurance, and athleticism. With RANK 45, you will find durably constructed, hard-wearing pieces with arena-ready features ranging from high-performance comfort technology to temperature control, moisture management, and full range of movement.

To further explore the line, we connected with RANK 45 product designers: Dustin, who has 20 years’ experience designing footwear in the action sports industry; Sonya, who has been a leader in design and product creation in the retail space for over 20 years; and Allan, who has over 10 years’ experience designing men’s and women’s wear. Collectively, the three designers provide an insider’s perspective to RANK 45—a line they have designed to be the next evolution of rodeo gear.

What makes RANK 45 pieces ideal for the athlete?

Dustin: RANK 45 boots are made with the highest quality materials and designed to be comfortable, durable, and functional. They are made to withstand the rigorous conditions of the rodeo arena.

Sonya: RANK 45 is designed with athletes in mind. The woven shirts and jackets are constructed to give athletes extra mobility when riding. Our staple western shirt has a vented mesh back that allows for airflow to keep the athlete cool and dry in heated environments. RANK 45 riding jeans are made of extremely durable denim with a comfort stretch. The back has a longer length in the rise for extra coverage. There are several fit options to suit a range of needs. The men’s denim assortment ranges from slim straight, slim boot, and stackable straight. The women’s assortment offers a mid-rise bootcut, straight and a trouser in multiple washes and inseams.

Can you expand on the functionality of the product and how it helps support the wearer?

Dustin: All our RANK 45 boots are designed with the working cowboy in mind. From our traditional leather outsole boots for the athlete to our performance rubber outsole boots for more durability and traction on varied surfaces, the functionality of our boots must stand up to the cowboy’s needs. In turn, the wearer benefits from a level of unmatched quality.

Sonya: Several pieces of the collection have UV protection for protection against continuous sun exposure, quick dry for a more comfortable wearing experience, wrinkle resistance, and comfort stretch. These benefits support the needs of the modern rodeo athlete. These function designs are comfortable to wear in hot sunny conditions.

When you conducted field research with rodeo athletes, how did you incorporate their feedback into your design?

Dustin: I noticed a few key details repeated by most of the athletes we met with. The importance of getting your foot in and out of the stirrup with ease was mentioned a lot. Some of this feedback inspired the Saloon with its narrow square toe and leather outsole. A few other standouts of importance were fit, comfort, durability, quality, and tradition. For fit, we designed a snug fit with little excess room so the athlete’s foot doesn’t move around inside the boot while competing. The boots should maintain that snug fit over time. For comfort, we use a mesh lining in the shaft on select styles to help reduce weight and add comfort. Our Advanced Crepe performance outsole is a very lightweight boot. Additionally, all RANK 45 boots are constructed with an internal molded shank that provides stability and support to the arch. For durability, quality, and tradition, RANK 45 boots are handcrafted with top-quality materials in the best factories by boot artisans who incorporate centuries-old boot making techniques, utilizing history, expertise, and knowledge of how an authentic cowboy boot should be made.

Sonya: We interviewed several athletes in the Research and Development stage of the line’s creation. We found that there was a void in the market for comfortable lightweight breathable western shirts. The team reacted to the request and designed a shirt that checked all the boxes. RANK 45 offers a snap front western shirt that is super lightweight, breathable with a mesh panel vented in the back yoke. The shirt also has UV protection. It dries fast and does not easily wrinkle.

How do Rank 45 items compare to athletic wear?

Dustin: Our RANK 45 performance rubber outsole boot uses an athletic-inspired insole that is comprised of three layers, including a memory foam top layer and antimicrobial sock lining. The rubber outsole also provides more flexibility and traction on slippery surfaces.

Sonya: RANK 45 has similar features of the top-rated athletic brands but the RANK 45 aesthetic is purely western.

What features does the product have that will give the rodeo athlete a competitive advantage in the arena?

Dustin: I will use our Saloon style as an example. Its leather outsole, narrow square toe, and single row welt stitch, which reduces the welt extension, is designed so that the athlete’s foot will not get stuck in the stirrup. This boot also features a 1 ¾ inch western heel with a stable spur ledge for the heel band to rest on. A properly constructed spur ledge is important for anyone riding with spurs. The shaft has mesh lining for extra breathability and movement, along with pull holes, a 4” deep scallop, and a saddle vamp for added durability.

Sonya: The RANK 45 product infused performance finishes to heritage staples giving the athlete an edge over the completion. They will have more mobility with our comfort stretch; the shirt will dry faster, and they will be able to stay cool and comfortable under the heated pressure in the arena.

What comfort features did you incorporate into the design?

Dustin: A selection of the RANK 45 boot styles come with our Xero Gravity insole, which has three layers including a memory foam top layer, Poron heel, and forefoot inserts for extra shock absorption. We also use mesh inside lining which helps the shaft of the boot to be more breathable, flexible, and lightweight.

Allan: Our performance shirts and softshell jackets are made with breathable fabrics. The back of the shirt is designed with vent openings. The softshell jackets have an opening at the underarm that provides moisture wicking and quick dry. We field-tested the product on rodeo athletes to arrive at the most comfortable fit, enabling them to perform at their best.

Where did you pull your inspiration when designing RANK 45?

Allan: We are constantly inspired by rodeo athletes: their grit and determination, their blood, sweat, and tears, the way they push themselves to the limit to tame the untamable and strive to be the best. We cheer for our athletes at the rodeo; we know their stories and their goals, and we relish the opportunity to connect with them in focus groups so we can shape RANK 45 into western wear at the service of their passion.

What makes RANK 45 unique?

Dustin: Several features, but I’ll focus on the durability of the outsole. We currently use three different types of outsoles in the RANK 45 collection. A traditional leather outsole, which is preferred by most athletes. We also have a durable long-lasting rubber performance outsole that is flexible and slip-resisting; this is preferred by some for the ranch as they ensure extra safety and comfort. Lastly, we offer our Advanced Crepe performance outsole which is made from a rubber and foam blend. This outsole is extremely lightweight, flexible, and comfortable, though it does not offer the same high level of durability as our rubber outsole. Along with that, we use the best leathers available in punchy combos and conservative offerings.

Allan: It’s the only brand in the western space that aims to cater to all aspects of a rodeo athletes’ lifestyle. We are constantly innovating our products to provide functional pieces for the athletes that let them perform at their best in the arena. Our unique designs and quality materials are what make RANK 45 clothing so comfortable and popular.


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