Company profile: Curve Inc
By Ben Delaney | Friday, November 9, 2012 12.00am
Curve makes custom clothing with a dizzying array of options in fabric and design Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Henrik Nejezchleb didn't set out to make custom cycling clothing. When Curve was launched in 1991 in Boulder, Colorado, the company was making bike parts: skewers, cantilever brakes, brake stiffeners. But after dabbling in soft goods in 2000, Nejezchleb soon found himself making private label clothing for big brands like Trek and Cannondale as well as companies like KTM motorcycles. Today, Curve makes custom clothing for a huge range of cyclists, from top pros to former NFL players to local teams.
Custom clothing is a crowded market these days, with dozens of companies offering sublimation on everything from the standard bibs and jerseys to warmers, hats, jackets and shoe covers. Curve's Scott Tietzel says the Boulder company differentiates itself from the crowd with high-quality garments, low minimum-order requirements and an almost overwhelming amount of choice in fabrics and design.
Thor Hushovd in a Curve base layer
"Our clothing is real Tour de France quality that guys that are actually riding in the Tour de France," Tietzel said, pointing to riders like Chris Horner (hat), Thor Hushovd (base layer) or Alberto Contador (El Pistelero socks).
"Besides the low minimums [11 pieces to place an order], we have lots of options in material, patterns, chamois pads and stitching," he said. "Once you get past the idea that ‘custom is all the same Lycra, what’s the best price?’ you realize there are huge differences in quality."
Different fabrics can be chosen for the the chest, back, shoulders and side panels
Curve offers two categories of clothing. Curve Team Custom is good quality and reasonably priced clothing made in Eastern Europe. Curve Proline is the top-end line made in Italy. Sublimated Curve Team Custom jerseys cost about $55 and bib shorts are about $75, depending on quantity ordered. The Curve Proline jerseys range from $65 to $140, and the bibs are between $80 and $150, depending on the types of fabrics and the quantity ordered. Within a single team order, riders can choose different types of chamois inserts without an upcharge.
Although Tietzel won't name the factory, it seems clear that Curve uses MOA, a high-end company that produces many pro teams' clothing. "We have crusty old Italian folks that have been making riding clothing for decades. So the fit is just great. The pockets are in the right place; there are no no cute new designs," he said.
In addition to custom graphics, Curve also offers custom sizing cuts on clothing in the Proline. For example, Curve made clothing tailored for Ariel Solomon, a former offensive linemen for the Pittsburgh Steelers (read: not a little fellow).
"The [Proline factory employees] come from a tailor background, they make their own patterns and there is so much experience in their background," Tietzel said. "They can just do custom adjustments no problem. They are not just people running sewing machines."
Elbowz Racing in Curve clothing
A fully custom one-off time trial suit with custom measurements, for example, would run you $250-$350, depending on materials.
Much more common is teams coming to Curve looking for standout clothing. "As an example, one team wanted more texture. We have a book of fabric samples from our factory. So we sat down with these customers and made something that we’ve never made before, with Eschler fabric on the shorts."
Curve offers a deep selection of accessories, many with options within options. There are 12 different short sleeve jerseys alone — plus you can specify the type of side, front and shoulder panel material.
For more information check out Curve's website.
Options abound for bibs shorts with seemingly limitless choices of fabric, grippers, chamois and stitching
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