How the Australian kit brand shook up the cycling apparel industry

On the eve of their four-year anniversary we’re pleased to be featuring a pre-release men’s and women’s kit from Attaquer on the CyclingTips Emporium for a limited time only.

We’ve talked often here at the CyclingTips Emporium about the explosion in the number of cycling apparel brands and our excitement at the state of the industry. Large, established brands are being held to account by the creativity of small brands who have access to the same manufacturing facilities.

And that’s not to mention the opportunities for relatively cheap promotion through social media and the fact there’s a large community of cyclists who have an appetite for new and appealing cycling wear.

Here in Australia we’re lucky enough to have a fantastic cycling culture and it was arguably our friends from Sydney, Attaquer, that started the current kit revolution.

On the eve of their four-year anniversary we’re featuring a men’s and women’s kit from Attaquer on the CyclingTips Emporium, kits that hark back to the brand’s very first collection. We spoke to Attaquer co-founders Greg Hamer (below right image, right) and Stevan Musulin (below right image, left) about their journey and what started it all.

“When Attaquer began we wanted to explore a side of cycling apparel we felt hadn’t been explored before,” Stevan said. “We wanted to create something disruptive and unexpected based around fashion apparel.

“Even four years on from when we started this ride, we’re still very passionate about the sport of cycling and we still feel it’s ripe for disruption. We love working on ideas which get people out of their comfort zone, and have an element of ‘You can’t do that’.

“We launched Attaquer in/around October 2012, almost four years ago now. Back then Rapha was leading the charge in kit design but they were very gentlemanly — too gentlemanly for us,” says Greg. “We both grew up being influenced by the surf and skate culture and wanted to blur the lines in what was possible in cycling kit.”

It’s no secret what’s needed to launch a new business or brand: an identified need or gap in the market, an unrelenting passion for your chosen field and a diverse and complementing mix of skillsets within the team.

Stevan had been working in the apparel industry for 10 years at G-Star and Ben Sherman, while Greg came from within the cycling industry having been brand manager for a number of cycling brands. It was this mix of design/creative skills and a knowledge of the bike industry that made it all possible. That and Stevan’s sister-in-law.

“Stevan had an extremely beautiful sister-in-law who, as it happens, is now my wife,” Greg says laughing. “Attaquer was a side project to finding true love.

“It made sense that one of us could bring a design and creative element to the business, whilst the other would bring cycling industry and product knowledge,” says Stevan “From there we spent several months researching manufacturers and product, developing samples, designing, setting up the business and website.

“Then late in 2012, my attic was full of boxes and we were ready to launch the brand, starting with our online store and two retail stockists in Melbourne and Sydney.

“These days both of us manage many tasks within the business and no longer work from my attic. We have our own office, warehouse and full time staff,” says Stevan.

To the average Attaquer customer, the real selling point is the brand’s sense of individuality and “reckless confidence” that comes with each of the kits.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Cycling has so many ‘rules’ that sometimes people forget that this is a hobby and we’re all doing it to have fun,” Greg says. “Don’t be afraid to rock up to the cafe in a kit covered in flamingos, or peacock feathers, or watermelons! The majority of the time the guys who’ll criticise you for wearing that kit are the ones falling off the back of the bunch on the first bit of incline.

“It’s true what we say, if you look good you’ll feel good, and if you feel good you’ll ride faster!”

One thing that is now commonplace amongst brands, but wasn’t when Attaquer started, is the fact all limited edition Attaquer kits are sold as a full kit only. No mis-matching allowed.

“We wanted to ensure that the unique Attaquer design aesthetic wasn’t compromised, so we took a gamble and didn’t give the customer a choice of purchasing their jersey and bibs separately — ‘complete kit’ only,” Stevan explains. “I’m not talking about a colourful jersey and black bibs with matching brand logos. I’m talking about a complete look where the jersey and bibs are somewhat integrated in their design, a seamless finish.

“There was a lot of resistance to this concept early on, but nowadays it’s widely accepted and many wouldn’t have it any other way.”

In this fun video below, Greg and Stevan take us through a few of their favourite kits.

While many were quick to mock Attaquer in the early days as nothing more than a “flash in the pan”, the brand’s success was no accident — Greg and Stevan risked everything to make their vision a reality. They didn’t know if their designs would resonate with the cycling community — they simply banked on the fact people were looking for something different in what they wore on the bike.

“In our very first season we launched with eight kit designs. We decided to put our balls on the line and launched with that many so that we could make a solid first impression on the market,” Greg says. “For all we knew we could have been laughed at and still be sitting on the stock, as well as our deflated egos.

“I actually still don’t know how we managed to do it. Social media, especially Instagram, still wasn’t heavily used back in 2012 so we were relying on word-of-mouth, editorials in print and online, and two retailers, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Being that we were so different to anything else though, the Attaquer brand was extremely recognisable and people were willing to give it a go, which we are extremely thankful for.

“Many people have said that Attaquer is the brand which started a trend in design-based cycling kit design, or that Attaquer inspired them to start their own kit brand. If that is the case and we’ve played a role or in some part paved the way in the current trend of cycling kit brands/design, then that makes me extremely proud,” says Stevan.

Four years on, Attaquer is now in its ninth season, yet due to the limited nature of the brand’s collections many who are new to the brand will have missed out on earlier designs. This was the idea behind the latest range, a re-release of the “Season 1 – The Pioneers” collection.

“We still get so many emails from people asking us how they can get their hands on some of the past designs,” says Stevan. “On the eve of our four-year anniversary, we felt the timing was right to do a rework of where it all began. There are some new colourways, little tweaks and two women’s designs which were never released in the original Season 1 – Pioneers collection.”

We’re excited to be featuring the first of Attaquer’s Season 9 collection, the men’s and women’s Cloud 9 kit, available exclusively on the CyclingTips Emporium for one week only. If it’s anything like the rest of the Attaquer range, this will go fast. View the pre-release women’s kit here and men’s kit here before they’re gone.

This content was written for the CyclingTips Emporium.