With women’s products being the largest growing segment of the cycling industry, more and more brands are paying close attention to what women actually want. Gone are the days of “pink it and shrink it.” Women are no longer an afterthought and many design teams now include female designers.
And there are few women that spend more time in cycling kits than professional cyclists. They know what’s comfortable, what looks good or what should perhaps be confined to indoor trainer workouts only. So having female pro cyclists design women’s cycling wear makes perfect sense, especially when some of those pros happen to be designers themselves.
Off the catwalk onto the streets: Iris Slappendel reveals new Milltag kit
Iris Slappendel (Bigla) is a professional cyclist and designer who notably designed the 2014 Women’s World Cup Series jerseys, various KNWU tops and the ‘Paris Nous Voila’ t-shirts for last year’s La Course. Her newest product, revealed only two weeks ago, is a full kit and cap in collaboration with Milltag, the cycling wear manufacturer behind Team Matrix.
“I’m actually a product designer and I kind of fell into designing cycling wear with the 2014 UCI World Cup jerseys,” Slappendel told Ella CyclingTips. “I, of course have a lot of contacts in the cycling industry, and have since been approached to do more. And I do enjoy doing it.’
Milltag approached Slappendel at the end of last year, and she called the collaboration a great experience.
“The really fun part of the designing process of this kit was that I had complete freedom,” Slappendel said. “Usually when you’re designing, there are logos and colors to work with or certain guidelines, but I was free to do what I wanted to do and design something I would want to wear. That was something I very much enjoyed.”
Being a professional cyclist, Slappendel is required to train and race in team kit, which means she never shops for cycling wear for herself. However, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been keeping an eye on the market.
“I do look at what’s available in cycling clothing as well as general women’s fashion. I was more influenced by the catwalk than by other cycling brands,” Slappendel said. “But when I started this at the end of last year, it was actually really hard because there’s already so much cycling gear on the market. The chance that you copy something is large. The design we ended up using was actually the second idea because the first design, without my knowledge, appeared to resemble something already out there.”
The final product is a feminine yet edgy kit with clean lines. It’s predominantly purple in color with a floral print and details.
“It’s kind of strange and funny how it turned because I don’t care at all for the pink and flowery ‘shrink it and pink it’ designs you often see used in women’s cycling clothing,” said Slappendel. “But I love the color purple, and it has a bit of a jungle floral print that I designed. So yes, it’s purple and floral but I don’t find it to be all that girly.”
In designing this, Slappendel said that she first drew the lines, acknowledging that, for women in particular, it’s important that a kit is flattering and slimming.
“I wanted a design that works for 20-somethings as well as 40- and 50-year-olds,” said Slappendel. “I really like the T shape on the back and how the print seamlessly flows onto the sleeves and onto the chest. I am very impressed with Milltag and how they were able to do that. Cycling wear can be difficult to work with, and I think it turned out great and it’s a strong detail to the design.”
Slappendel gave away that she has a few more projects in the works. Although unable to reveal what they are just yet, she did seem very excited about them. She did mention working with the We Own Yellow campaign for some designs to be revealed soon.
Made for mud: Helen Wyman pairs up with Velocio for a line of cyclocross-specific clothing
A nine-time British national cyclocross champion, Helen Wyman is as known for her technical riding skills as she is for her women’s cycling advocacy. Cycling wear manufacturer, Velocio, hopes she’ll soon be known for her clothing line as well.
Coming this fall, Velocio will reveal it’s Helen Wyman signature collection, made to withstand the most demanding conditions.
“Last Fall we were discussing some ideas for the upcoming year in terms of people we’d like to collaborate with – people that we felt aligned well with our brand and our direction. I don’t remember precisely how Helen’s name came up, but she has been someone that I’ve been interested in for quite a while,” recalled Velocio co-founder Brad Sheehan.
When he read “The Luckiest Woman in All of Cyclocross”, a blogpost about an amateur cyclocross racer’s encounter with Helen Wyman on the race course, it sealed the deal for him.
“I said to myself, ‘THAT’S who we want to work with. That’s what we’re about – pure class, accessible, friendly and supportive’,” said Sheehan. “You really can’t find someone with a better understanding and the ability to articulate the needs of the most demanding cyclists. Helen has a clear sense of what she’s looking for in this clothing and the process of creating it has been rewarding.”
Helen Wyman echoed Sheehan’s excitement.
“It’s something I’ve hoped to be able to do for a while. Then, like waiting for a bus, I had a few options all come along at once. But I wanted to work with Brad and the Velocio crew. It’s a great company, who’s done so much for women’s cycling over the past few years,” she said. “I love their design work, I feel good in their clothes, and can’t wait for people to see the designs.”
The initial line will consists of four items –including a brand new cyclocross-specific item –to span the full season, from mid-weight short sleeve jersey and thermal bib short, to jacket and pant.
“The HW Signature line is very functional, and it’s designed to be nice and bright and reflect my personality,” revealed Wyman. “It might have a bit of orange in there and a splash of Britain, or it might not. I’m not too sure I’m allowed to say too much more.”
What she would say is that it’s going to look smart in the mud and in the beer garden.
“I’m a girl, I want to look good, but I don’t need to be saturated in pink to achieve that,” she commented. “I wanted a design or theme that would be good for men and women, and give everyone comfort and style. Something that looks good on both sides of the barriers at a bike race, plus in the cafe at the end of ride. I hope we’ve achieved that.”
Style and comfort aside, what matters most to Wyman is using her experience to give back to the sport.
“I guess when you get to 34, you have a lot of experience from all your years of racing. I see myself racing for many more years, but using my experience, learning new things, and working with new people is really important to me as I get older,” she commented.
No images of her line are available as of yet. But look for Velocio to reveal its line in time for cyclocross season in the Northern Hemisphere.