For a long time there were three options for high quality cycling clothes; plain, eurocentric, or team replica. Unhappy with these core choices, a few Australian designers have decided they would offer something fresh and unique. Using everything from blinding fluorescent colours to animal prints, these small startups are changing the way cyclists dress.
Though the designs may not appeal to everyone, their popularity has been overwhelming. When BikeRadar spoke with Greg Hamer, co-owner of Attaquer, he was amazed how fast their stock has disappeared. The re-release of their ‘Give Them Hell’ kit completely sold out within 24 hours of becoming available.
Straying from the norm, these small designers have differentiated themselves from the competition. Dion Shaw the owner of 4shaw told BikeRadar, “You see what Tom (of Fiasco Ciclismo) or Pedla is doing, and I am not saying that I love everything that they do because I have my own tastes, but I love the fact that everyone is doing something different.”
But it isn’t just bright colours that make these kits worth a second look, it’s the quality. Rather than printing a logo on something purchased from a catalogue, these small companies are tirelessly searching for new and better materials, suppliers, and manufacturing processes.
We spoke with Justin Abrahams, part owner of the Melbourne based brand The Pedla, who stressed their commitment to quality, “We wouldn't feel comfortable just putting out our designs on any lycra. You can buy from many suppliers and get ordinary quality. What we try to do is create a high end solution, and because of this we can compete with the best in the world.”
We've put together a few of our favourites that are pushing the boundaries of cycling fashion.
Not identifying with the plain and eurocentric cycling clothing that dominated the market, Greg Hamer and his business partner Steve Musulin decided to create something different.
“Steve and myself are passionate cyclists, and we were at a point where we couldn’t find anything on the market that we wanted to wear,” says Hamer. “We saw a need for cycling kit that was desirable, fashion focused, and fashion forward.”
Releasing a new season of kits every few months, Attaquer only does a limited run of each design, with a few favorites occasionally resurfacing.
“People know that if they buy a kit from us they are one of only a few, not one of hundreds out there world wide. They are not going to go on a ride and see people in the same kit,” he explains.
Attaquer season four is set to come out at the end of February. However Hamer is playing his cards close to his chest about their next release - his only clue being, “cycling’s a team sport.”
As Shaw puts it, “Tall socks just make your legs look more attractive, that’s a fact.”
4Shaw’s socks come in nearly every colour and you guessed it, they are tall. At the moment Shaw is not producing a kit, however he has accessories covered. With everything from bidons to base layers, Shaw only uses high quality materials that he is willing ride in.
“I get asked everyday to do cycling kit and I have been developing my own for a while. I want to do something unique but I haven't found the right supplier, because the stuff that I want to do is off the charts. I would not put my name on some second rate kit,” he says.
In the mean time we can expect series of socks inspired by thrash metal legends - Slayer, Black Flag, and Suicidal Tendencies - as well as compression socks, waterproof socks, base layers and a few new gloves.
Affectionately known as Tubular Tommy, Tom Freeman took his love for fluorescent colours and made some cool hi-vis cycling clothing.
“I can tell you the first thing that made me love fluro. It was in 2007 during the Tour de France and (Alexander) Vinokourov was wearing fluoro yellow (Oakley) Radars, and their Astana kit was that light blue colour. My wife gave me those Radars for my birthday, and since then its all been fluoro,” explains Freeman. “But I think fluoro has about done its dash.”
Now moving away from fluorescent colours Freeman is doing kits in camouflage, hawaiian print, and a pixel gradient. But rest assured all the new Fiasco Ciclismo kits will be bright.
You don’t have to speak with Justin Abrahams for long to realise how passionate he is about his brand. Before launching the Pedla, Abrahams and business partner Marcin Wojick put in nearly two and a half years of research and development.
“Once we felt we had a good starting point from a design perspective we spent almost fourteen months researching fabrics and factories, and that journey continues,” explains Abrahams.
For their soon to be released winter clothing the Pedla has been experimenting with some very technical materials. “We have used some really interesting fabrics for our winter range. A couple have carbon in them for wicking purposes, and some of them are thermo regulating - where the actual fibres close like a pine cone in the cooler temperatures,” he says.
On top of using only the newest and advanced technical fabrics the Pedla is still committed to producing a product that looks good.
“The aesthetic we aspire to is quite clean. You can certainly wear plain black and grey, but then particularly with the vests and summer jerseys we have a bit of fun,” Abrahams says.
This new trend in cool and unique cycle clothing is a welcome alternative to boring kit of old, and the bar is continually being raised. Not only for wild designs but also technical materials and quality garments.
With the success these niche brands are having in Australia, it’s all very possible we see the big names following suit. What are your thoughts? Is a little fashion fun a good thing, or is it going too far?