When the “safety bicycle” turned up and supplanted the big wheelers of the 1800’s, cycling became accessible for the first time. The earliest bicycles were designed according to the horse, so people call them wooden horses, the handle designed as horse’s head, the sit designed as saddle because the bicycle is the main mode of transport at that time, people desire for a fast transportation. This impression on “horse” remained an expression on the clothing, the primal cycling suit was designed as “knight’s suit”: top hat, tuxedo with a slit, etc. and the cyclists’ hand will hold a whip as well. This kind of attire is generally for man’s cyclists, women were not allowed to ride bicycles at that time because of the bondage of traditional ideas. It was not until 1896 that woman’s cycling suits appeared.
People were racing not long after cycling was opened. Athletic competition often facilitates innovation, at the beginning of cycling as a competitive sport, most cycling clothing was made of wool: it takes away moisture from the skin and absorbed perspiration. It was scratchy when it got soaked it feels like a saggy sack, but it gets dry faster and more comfortable than cotton nevertheless. There is no better choice than wool.
In the 40s, an Italian tailor manufacturer called Armando Castelli introduced silk jerseys to provide a lighter and cooler choice for cyclists. Silk also took ink much better than other fabrics, it was important to the progression of professional cycling because at that time the titans of commerce had discovered the value of turning racing cyclists into dynamic billboards for their products. It is the first big evolution of cycling jersey.
After WW2, chemists invented polyester, nylon, and spandex, it changed the world of cycling clothing. Fabric made from these new materials improved the way the designers and manufacturers made sports clothing, including cycling clothing. DuPont invented Lycra by combining polyester with elastic. By the 70s, cyclists would like to choose a new breed of synthetic fabrics instead of wool or silk that wicked like wool, were light like silk, but were aerodynamically skin-tight, what’s more, they could be printed with bright colours. For example, there is one of the most iconic jerseys of all time worn by probably the best rider ever---Eddy Merckx. The manufacturer is Santini based in northern Italy. Although Belgium’s greatest-ever sportsman rode for other teams, most notably Peugeot, Faema and Fiat, this is the jersey that he’s best remembered wearing. The strong colour impact can remain an extraordinary expression for people.
Road cycling clothing design has been controlled by the necessity of creating fast billboards, while mountain biking clothing has been controlled by references to other youthful sports. The first mountain cyclists were outdoor-loving mutineers. They wore flannel and denim, and it worked pretty well for bombing down Repack Road. When mountain bikes evolved and pedalling became believable, early mountain cyclist’s choice of cycling clothing was not only what was already in the closet---surf shorts, climber shorts, cut-offs, whatever worked. It is hard for mountain bikers that had road cycling roots to giving up the functional benefits of non-flapping, non-snagging lycra with a chamois. They wore it for many times to their fellow mountain biker’s chagrin. Two camps emerged in cycling clothing for mountain bikers: lycra wearers on one side and the other side was “baggy” wearers.
To some extent, real mountain biking shorts evolved with cut and features characteristic to the sport, like an elastic liner with a pad on the inside and durable weather-shedding materials on the outside. But, references to the sport’s rebel, outdoorsy heritage are all but gone. Surf-, moto-, or tacticool-inspired pieces dominate the sport. Mountain biking has yet to grow a functional aesthetic all of it is own. We’d like to change that.
We are on the cusp of a new wave of apparel for cycling – one where there is increasing diversity on many axes: in function, in style, and in quality. Rapha stood head and shoulders above their wearable billboards, Assos produces revolutionary (and weird) stuff with a singular concentrate on function, and Giro is challenging what function and style have to mean on a bike. And there is us – trying to elevate what’s available in the mountain bicycle world. We believe it is nice to feel like yourself when cycling. And for "us" at least, we want something that is truly functional and built to last, but that looks good and carries over the outdoorsy ethos intrinsic to mountain cycling.
There is a cycling jersey made by Rapha in 2015. This team-issue garment worn by Sir Bradley and his team-mates became something of an instant icon when it was unveiled last year. Made from a mid-weight fabric that keeps out the cold while wicking away moisture, it is technically one of the most advanced cycling jerseys on the planet and yet, look at it. This splendid thing is just crammed with nods to the past.
In the end, let’s enjoy some special jersey produced by an excellent manufacturer---Santini:
It was made in 1977 and this is an excellent jersey given that the printing techniques used today were still years away. The stripes in the unique design of this jersey were created by stitching wool and acrylic mix panels together, while the sponsor’s name was embroidered onto that white panel which was then separately stitched to the front of the jersey. This particular jersey was worn by Roger De Vlaeminck, who rode 14 Paris-Roubaix races – winning it four times – without suffering a single puncture, thanks in part to his exceptional handling skills over the course’s torturous cobbles. He also won the 1977 Tour of Flanders in this jersey.
It was found in 1984. Peugeot had continuously sponsored a cycling team in one form or another since 1901, and while earlier team kits would have had the company’s logo embroidered on, this uses a technique called flocking. The process involved applying a special hot adhesive to the white surface of the jersey in the shape of the logo and then spreading tiny black fibre particles over the gluey area. The result is a smooth, neat finish---although after washing for times did lead to a result in the logo lifting off. As well as the sponsors’ logos, the chessboard pattern beneath was also created this way.