The story behind the quirky US based kit brand

We’re pleased to be featuring the latest jersey from U.S. brand, Team Dream, available exclusively at the CyclingTips Emporium for a limited time only …

Here at the CyclingTips Emporium, we’re constantly inspired by the creative work that cycling brands around the world are doing every day. It’s refreshing to see new brands solving old problems and rethinking the way they tell their story and speak to their audience.

One such brand we’ve had our eye on for a while is Team Dream. Today we’re pleased to be featuring an exclusive kit from the U.S. brand, the FS Lightweight Jersey ?1 Edition. It’s available through the CyclingTips Emporium for a strictly limited time only.

While it might seem easier than ever to quit your job and start a cycling apparel brand, there’s a reason many brands come and go and only a few go on to build a loyal following of passionate cyclists. These brands are always offering something different to the norm, pushing the design envelope and connecting with their audience in a unique way.

Team Dream is a brand at the forefront of kit design and one that many of their fans would argue has been responsible for a number of recent trends in cycling apparel. They were taking ‘kit grid’ photos before the hashtag became popular, and they were experimenting with fade designs before anyone else starting doing them.

We spoke to Team Dream founder, Sean Talkington, to find out more about the brand’s story and its quirky style. As is the nature of the brand, the phone chat that ensued quickly moved away from the intended path …

CyclingTips: So, when did you start Team Dream?

Talkington: Where to begin? My friends and I had played with the idea of a fictional race team for some time, but Team Dream officially started in 2013. I was working at a bike shop in LA called Golden Saddle Cyclery (GSC). Those guys were (and still are) doing some awesome stuff and I was lucky enough to be friends with them, after 27 monthly installments of $999.99 (laughs).

In the beginning, Team Dream Bicycling Team was a spin off of GSC in a way. As far as the inspiration for the brand is concerned, my best friend and I went to Italy for the Giro in 2012. After the race, we traveled around for another month riding the Alps and making friends. You can’t help but notice how passionate Italians are about their professions and you can see it in the quality of product they produce.

And that experience made you want to start a cycling clothing brand in the U.S.?

Italians love Italy and everything made in Italy. If you don’t believe me, just ask any Italian and they will happily tell you all about how they have [ed. said in an Italian accent] “the best beaches, the best food, the best mountains, the best tanning oils & hair products etc”. The experience was infectious.

At the time I was freelance designing products for companies that were being produced primarily in China. I have no issue with someone sourcing work to other countries but after Italy the idea of a company that could be hands-on with its manufacturing became my goal. Basically, I was trying to “Make America Cool Like Italy But Also Great Again, Too”.

What were you doing before you starting a cycling brand?

My background is pretty diverse, but I think the most important aspects came early on when working retail in bike shops and skate shops as a youngster. I am a bit of a photography/design nerd with an amateur racing pedigree whose results are still being raved about on his mother’s refrigerator (laughs).

How do you then make the jump to starting a cycling brand?

Team Dream was originally an inside joke between friends. Some of us were still really serious about racing while others were either phasing out or had never really cared for the competitive side of bicycles. The goal was never to create a brand, but more to have a platform to goof around, ride together and share our stories.

Once the internet got hold of us everything changed. Money, fast bikes, free and discounted tubes and all the Instagram one can handle.

So now you’ve “made it”, it sounds like you have some people to thank?

That would be a pretty big list. I mean yes, I am the Steve Jobs of this rat shack. I get a lot of the credit for all things Team Dream but the truth is that we have an amazing group of talented friends who are kind enough to contribute their skill sets on the regular.

I would like to say that I am extremely proud of what the boys/girls at The Cub House do on a regular basis (yes, that’s shameless self promotion for our retail store @itsnotabikeshop in LA).

To the people that haven’t heard of Team Dream, what does the brand stand for and what’s the meaning behind the name?

I thinks its ok to be a serious cyclist without being soooo serious about yourself. We strive to make the best possible performance products and, of course, pepper in as much fun as possible.

Team Dream works with real-deal professional athletes and weekend warriors alike. Some of our favorite things are as follows: Big rides, small rides, winning races, almost winning races, sleeping in and missing races, old friends, new friends, chubby bobcats, sunsets … and tacos!

After Italy I guess “locally made” was important to you. Is that why you partner with manufacturer Endo for all your kits?

This is a question we get quite a lot. The truth is that Endo actually buys me a new exotic sports car every year, it’s remote control, but still, they are quite nice (laughs). They make some great stuff over at Endo and yes, because everything from Team Dream is USA-made it means we get to be hands-on with development.

Having production right down the road from our office is key in LA because the traffic here can be nasty. Being able to build new pieces directly with the manufacturer and yell at them in the first person is pretty awesome.

You always sell out. Why have you chosen to focus on limited runs?

By “sell out” are you referring to our new “Team Dream for Walmart” project? (laughs)

Well to be honest, in the beginning very small batches were all we could afford to produce. I remember the first Team Dream order was for 20 kits. Fifteen of those were for friends. I was pretty nervous that the remaining kits would be with me for the rest of my life. We made a little web store to see if anyone might be interested and to my surprise they sold out really fast.

It was shocking to see how many people were buying kits because they wanted something different. Cycling apparel was pretty stale for a long time and I think most of the big companies weren’t paying attention. So that made room for all these little Instagram brands like us to pop up.

The idea that you show up to a ride wearing a kit from some obscure brand from halfway around the world and that would get people excited must have worked because here we are four years later and I am filthy rich … with joy … and debt!

What excites you about the cycling industry at the moment?

Early 90’s mountain biking, a young Greg LeMond & American Flyers. Lachlan Morton and Romain Bardet are also pretty rad I guess …

So, what does the next 2 years look like for Team Dream?

Have you seen the movies ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘The Lobster’? I think it’ll be like if those two movies had a baby. We are like Straight Outta Compton because we got to be part of this new path in cycling and cycling is obviously a lot like gangsta rap. The way we relate to the movie Lobster is that I don’t really understand what we are doing, but I try to pretend like I do and that is exactly how I felt about that movie (laughs).

Look, I really enjoy being the owner of a smaller brand. I personally like buying from small brands. If we can grow our message and product range while maintaining small batches that would be ideal. But, I guess being big like Nike could be cool too?

The FS Lightweight Jersey ?1 Edition is available exclusively through the CyclingTips Emporium including two matching cap options and a new sock design. View them here before they’re gone.

This content was written for the CyclingTips Emporium.