Strange people, cyclists. They work all week and then instead of resting, relaxing or doing something fun on Sundays, they get up at dawn, hop on their bikes and take off. Clocking up kilometres upon kilometre in the saddle wrapped up in their vibrant jerseys. “It’s a passion!” they tell you. Ah yes, passion. What colour is passion though? Just look at those jerseys: thousands of different colours pedalling through the wind. That’s the colour of passion.
Strange people, cyclists. Because jerseys aren’t clothes to them. They are a story. Their own very personal story of kilometres, sweat, exhaustion, spit, hope, calculations, expletives, risks, speed, thrills, braking, gears, water bottles, challenges and banter, all hung on 23mm tyres. Every cyclist has their own story and every story has its jersey.
Strange people, cyclists. And they know all about that in Santini where they make those very jerseys. That’s why since it first opened, the Italian company has provided a custom service for non-professional kits: to offer each and every amateur team, sports club, small businesspeople with their own label, enthusiasts of all kinds, an icon they can identify with. A kit designed and crafted around their needs and dreams. It’s a worldwide service too and not just for the Italian market.
Take for example, Dutchman Brian Megens: very few people will remember him racing for the Dutch Rabobank team a decade ago. Now, his career behind him, he manages two flourishing Fixed Gear Coffee stores (https://fixedgearcoffee.com), which combine tasty breakfasts with every imaginable service a cyclist could want. The branch first opened strategically at the foot of the Cauberg, a hugely popular area with cyclists and not just when the Amstel Gold Race is on. The other is in the heart of Maastricht. This posed the question of how to give a shared identity to the two stores that would turn them into a brand?
«Simple: a customised kit», Megens explains. «I have known Santini since I was pro racing and then even afterwards when I wore their kits competing in the fixed gear Criteriums. When I decided to open Fixed Gear Coffee, I knew I wanted to work with Santini. The quality of the fabrics, the fact that everything is made in-house, how great the people are….it was all just a perfect fit».
To cut a long story short, Brian: there’s no doubt about the quality – even the Tour de France sources its official kits from Bergamo. So let’s focus on customisation: “We have a slogan that sums up the philosophy behind the two stores: ‘Coffee before Cycling’. We also used it on our merchandising (t-shirts, caps and sweaters) and on the technical cycling kit we commissioned from Santini. I put in my first order in 2019 for 60 jerseys and burned through them in a month and a half!».
Having your own go-to kit is definitely rewarding. But there is one problem: they don’t just happen. No matter how clearly an amateur team imagines a jersey in their colours and with their slogan or corporate logos, translating that idea into reality is a job for professionals, people with expertise in weft and warp, made-to-measure fits, light stitching and strategic layering. That’s without even mentioning colour combinations: if you aren’t a fashion designer that can read trends and colours, you run a very real risk of ending up a real jumble of colours. Disappointment looms….
This is why Santini has created a special platform (https://www.santinicycling.com/custom) that guides users through every step of the process. It starts with a look-book for inspiration and offers a huge range of options to choose from or – if you still aren’t entirely convinced – to start from to create your own personalised collection. A useful step but not essential either if you already have your own idea you want to develop.
Simply fill out the special form to put you in contact with the company and after you make your request, the Santini staff will guide you through the best options and features for their customised kit based on your sporting needs, requirements and budget. They will then use this to draw up a detailed quote. We are still at the design stage and while a whole team’s imagination is running wild between climbing the Stelvio or attacking on the Poggio, the Santini graphic design department works on the kit using the selected colours and logos as its starting point.
«We wanted two different custom kits: one in navy/light blue and the other in purple/lime/yellow – continues Megens – For the 2022 kit, we let Fergus Niland who listened to our story, guide us. That’s when you really get what it means to have ‘your own’ kit».
Irishman Fergus Niland, a graduate of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, is the creative ace up Santini’s sleeve. He’s a designer of international scope who can wave the world’s trends with the sensibilities of Italian craftsmanship. «With Brian Megens, we started from his ‘Coffee’ slogan,” Niland explains. «Have you ever noticed a freshly made espresso? The way the boiling coffee swirls with all those tiny clearer bubbles around the sides of the cup? Just how rich and seductive the colours are?». So, they came up with something different for the 2022 kit that references those colours but with a more subtle earth palette. «In one way it was to distinguish this new order from the 2021 one which was completely hyperactive and full-on. But most of all, we wanted to give “Coffee before Cycling” cyclists an instant reminder of the gravel side of cycling – continues Fergus – So we combined the cream shades of the jersey with khaki shorts and a vest in an elegant burnt Sienna».
From ideas to designs, from designs to production. At this point, Santini makes a virtual 3D model that can be rotated in any direction for a complete and very realistic vision of what the finished product will look like. This step allows the staff to thoroughly check the design, colours, positioning and sizing of the logos. Once any necessary tweaks have been made, it’s time for the final stage. Clients can order as many items for the kit as they wish (short or long sleeve jersey, windproof gilet, jackets, shorts, bib tights, skins, accessories, etc.).
At this point, the client gives the go-ahead for production to start and will receive their order within a couple of months. Cycling lets you wear your dreams: for cyclists, jerseys wrap your heart before your muscles. Beyond the finish line, beyond the races, after all those kilometres, so many dreams are poured into that sweat-soaked jersey. Strange people, cyclists.