Introducing their Local Loops collection

We’re pleased to be featuring Pedla’s latest range, Local Loops, in the CyclingTips Emporium.

Unlike 10 years ago when the only cycling apparel you could find at bike shops was shop kit or replica team kit, there are now a plethora of cycling apparel start-ups who see the potential in launching a brand. With the ease of creating custom kit these days, almost anyone can delve into making their own kit designs and we’ve seen many one-man brands come and go. So when a small brand stands out and resonates with an audience, you can be sure it’s no accident, and one who intends on being here for the long haul is Pedla.

Pedla has just released their latest and largest collection yet, Local Loops, celebrating our un-glorious local training routes and is “designed to inspire us to get out there and keep pedalling on those days we’d maybe rather not”. The collection has a design that is distinctly their own and features a strong women’s offering. But as all overnight successes are, they’re never overnight.

One of the two men behind the Pedla brand is Melbourne-based Justin Abrahams (left above). He’s young, but not new to the apparel and fashion industry. When speaking to Justin, you immediately know that this is a man with some significant experience, but strangely humble intent. At the start of 2013 Victorian Collage of the Arts graduate Marcin Wojcik (right) and Abrahams collaborated on some team kit for his riding group ‘The Melbourne Eight Legs’, and it was not long before they recognised the opportunity in the market.

Abrahams said, “It’s a funny thing this cycling. It’s the one space that men get to feel confident about owning fashion. We wouldn’t say ‘I’ve got to match my handbag with my shoes.’ But we love doing that with cycling. It’s fun and the industry is just beginning.

“Having had 14 years in the apparel industry with Husk [and before that Pacific Dunlop], and having sold that I have a revenue stream that feeds me. With Pedla, it’s almost an indulgence for me with how to build a brand and nurture it properly. We’ve deliberately focused on the manufacturing side of things and not retail. It’s a process, and this is technical apparel. Before we invest in broader distribution, we want to get the supply side solid.

“We’ve basically been learning through the process of our own processes and distributing narrow.  The strategy is to put one solid brick on top of the next and build a foundation of manufacturing before we expand vertically. One day we will open a bricks and mortar location to showcase the brand. In the short term we need to get stronger on the manufacturing and on the supply side and continue to develop relationships with world leading technical apparel companies. We source our fabrics from Italy and Switzerland and have found that China has the best capacity to procure the product we design. We travel there often to continue to develop and innovate collaboratively with these relationships.

“We don’t want a lot of relationships, but we do want to build strong ones with partners that not only have the capability but that we enjoy working with daily. This is the same for distribution. We have been very selective about who we partner with and the environments we place the brand.”

The vision

“The focus has been to stay in one category, which is road cycling. We’ve started development into triathlon because of the opportunity to offer something different. We haven’t launched but we’re well into the the research process with a number of athletes testing product.” “Event apparel is another Custom category we have developed a quality solution for. We also love doing collaborations. We want to work with creative people who push our technical capabilities.

“The gap we’d like to fill is two-fold: to have a custom apparel offer that’s of a premium level, that can be offered with outstanding customer service and fast turnaround. We feel a lot of the international competitors who are producing good quality, run into sizing and delivery time problems and being local we can be quicker on our feet.”

The pair are extremely proud of their women’s range, which has seen a significant increase in this latest collection.

Lessons learned

It’s said that ignorance is bliss, but the way Justin is approaching Pedla is much different than he operated in his other ventures.

“When I started Husk in 1995 I had very little experience in business. That blind naivety had its advantages but I would like to think that building a brand for the second time has allowed me to avoid a lot of the same pitfalls.

“I hope I never need to make a choice between nurturing the brand and going mainstream. When I made that choice with Husk, when we had that pivotal moment, when I couldn’t feel proud of it any longer, I ended up selling it. Often in business you’re tasked with that challenge of commercial versus brand equity, and this is something I’m passionate about.“

Contrary to many other brands, Pedla didn’t launch with fireworks. Abrahams has taken a slow and deliberate approach to build what we see today.

“I’ve been there before, where you open the doors but you’re not ready and you’re always playing catch up. We’ve kept a very small infrastructure. It’s only Marcin and I. All our design is done in-house. Everyone else we work with in manufacturing are sub-contractors.

“Exposure to stock [financially] is another thing I learned from Husk. We were sitting on stock that was going off like stale milk, because we were in fashion. The balance between custom and fashion ranges is critical. Custom is usually done with 50% upfront, so there’s some certainty and you’re not chasing money.

“Husk was a very broad fire front. I almost opened a department store in a retail environment, when that wasn’t what people did. We had homewares, fashion, cafe and Sensory care. That’s why I keep coming back to doing one thing and doing it well. That’s why I want to make sure we get manufacturing right before we get onto more orders that I can handle. If you speak to people who have done business with us, we always under-promise and over-deliver. And that’s what we want to keep doing. ”

It’s always tough to predict what brands will thrive, and which will fall. There’s a saying that every author has one good book in him, or every musician has one good album in her. If Pedla’s upwards trend continues, we’ll see many more great kits from them in the future. You can see a glimpse of their latest range below and on the CyclingTips Emporium.