Advice for Apparel Companies

Go fast.

Here’s a pretty sweet t-shirt from Howies, which is a great British clothing company.  It seems like every day a new urban cycling company is launched somewhere in North America.  For the most part, these companies are making pretty cool t-shirts. Here’s an example:

Simple. Effective.

Zlog’s t-shirts are popular.  Everyone likes catchy slogans that combine encouragement with veiled threats. And, at $26 (US), this is a good deal.  So, what’s wrong?  Well, the problem is that most urban cycling apparel companies (especially those focused on t-shirts) order their clothes in bulk from a manufacturer.  Then they design a cool logo and silk screen it on.

Some of these shirts are poly-cotton blend, some are 100% cotton, and therein lies the problem.  Cotton is one of the worst materials to ride in.  If you, or someone you know, wants to design cycling t-shirts, please do everyone a favour and use merino wool.  Yes, this will make the shirts more expensive.  But they will last for ages, they will feel fantastic, and they won’t turn into a sweaty, clingy (and smelly) rag after 20 minutes of riding.

Howies is doing its part to lead the way, offering its trademark “Howies” t-shirt in merino wool:

Feels good. Looks good. Costs a fortune.

At £50, this shirt is way too expensive.  But, all Howies clothing is too expensive.  Outlier’s got a black merino wool t-shirt for $75.  Mountain Equipment Co-op has them for $44.  Merino is an expensive material, but its increasing popularity will undoubtedly lower its price.  Hopefully American Apparel will start carrying it.  Then anyone with a silk screen kit and a love for bikes can make t-shirts that actually feel good when worn for cycling.

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2 Responses to “Advice for Apparel Companies”


  1. 1 Duncan 15/02/2010 at 1:05 pm

    I certainly agree. Just before winter I picked up a merino wool long sleeve made by Sugoi. I wear this shirt almost daily. I’ve gone skiing, taken soaking wet bike rides and even used it to layer while out for evening walks. But, at $100 (although bought at 50% off) it can be prohibitively expensive.

    Other manufacturers like Outlier ($75 USD for a t-shirt, $225 for a hoodie), Nau ($135 for a long sleeve polo) and Rapha all make great looking merino pieces. You can argue that because they perform so well and can last quite a long time, the higher price tag is worth it (I have t-shirts that barely last a few months before falling apart or getting gross).

    That MEC option does look nice. Reviews are good, too.

  2. 2 youaretheengine 16/02/2010 at 10:49 am

    I’ve got a Rapha jersey and a MEC longsleeve baselayer that I swear by (well, the Rapha jersey I swear AT because it cost too much).

    I’ll be sure to check out those other manufacturers. Swobo is nice too.

    What a really want, though, are merino tshirts with cool designs (like Howies). We need more of those. Then everything would be awesome.


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