Interview with Sir Steve Redgrave
BY KEN, MENSWEAR EDITOR ON 23 FEB 2011 15:07 SPORT & LEISURECOMMENTS
Sir Steve Redgrave, five time Olympic champion rower has teamed up with Maine New England to produce the exclusive menswear collection FiveG. Made using Fairtrade certified cotton and available exclusively at Debenhams. We caught up with him to find out more.
How did you get involved with Fairtrade and FiveG?
After retiring from rowing at the end of 2000 I was looking for long term business interests. An opportunity arose and we started FiveGold as a clothing line. After a few years, because of my charity interests and especially a trip to Zambia with Sport Relief, myself and the team decided we would like to be Fairtrade so we rebranded to FiveG. The brand has gone from strength to strength and in particular working with Debenhams and being the Fairtrade arm of Maine New England.
We like the name too! Can you explain its significance (if anyone doesn’t know!)
I didn’t really want to use my name as a brand so by using FiveG, it linked to my five Olympic gold medals, showing longevity but not in your face self publicity.
What makes Fairtrade important to you?
Being involved with various charities and raising money for good causes over a long period of time Fairtrade just makes good business sense. The farmers are not looking for a charity handout; they are looking for an opportunity to be able to trade on an equal footing. The Fairtrade organisation provides this opportunity allowing them to plan their crops and life with a guaranteed premium for what they produce.
Why should customers support Fairtrade?
Fairtrade produce has to make sense to every aspect of the business chain. As a customer we should be aware and act responsibly to ensure everyone in that chain is treated fairly and honourably. We shouldn’t be pushing the supply chain to go out of business. We all have the right to a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Nobody wants to be exploited and when people understand what Fairtrade stands for it makes sense for everybody involved.
Tell us about your recent trip to India for Fairtrade…
My India trip in January (2010) really demonstrated what Fairtrade stands for. In the cotton areas we visited, where there are big communities trying to survive, the ground they grow on was very sandy and almost desert like. The premium they receive from Fairtrade is being invested in new types of irrigation.
What are your favourite items from the Maine FiveG range?
Summer wear; I love the short sleeved cotton shirts. We have recently introduced cotton pullovers, which are excellent. This also means I have cotton garments for all seasons.
Do you still row?
I retired from rowing over ten years ago and have done very little rowing in that period. Two summers ago I did some veteran rowing and was surprised how much I had missed the camaraderie of team sport, but I’m not rowing at the moment.
I go to the gym and enjoy most machines but hate the rower. Any tips to make it easier?
Pacing is important, by using the display on the rowing machine you can aim to be consistent and not have peaks and troughs of power. Set yourself achievable goals and then try to improve by small amounts. The rowing machine can be your friend but can easily become an enemy if not treated with respect!
Do you get tired of people asking you about the ‘shoot me’ comment in Atlanta?*
In some ways it can be annoying. You want to be remembered for what you achieved but that comment came from the heart as I crossed the line in Atlanta and it’s nice that people remember what I achieved and the dedication that was put in to achieve it.
*After winning Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996, Sir Steve famously told journalists at the finishing line that anyone was free to shoot him if he ever went near a boat again. He won gold again four years later!
Thank you Sir Steve!