The West Lothian Clarion Cycling Club has nearly 300 hundred members, along with some very smart cyclewear. Images finds out why the club’s clothing rep rates their garment supplier so highly
The National Clarion Cycling Club, of which West Lothian Clarion Cycling Club is a member, was set up in 1895 as a socialist cycling club catering for the working man. Today there are 30 regional groups including one in Italy, explains West Lothian’s clothing rep Graeme Horne, with the West Lothian club being established eight years ago.
West Lothian has around 200 adult members and 83 youth members, who sport distinctive yellow, black and white clothing.
When Graeme took over the role of clothing rep a few years ago the supplier at the time required a minimum order of £3,000. “It meant a lot of organising, money collection and logistics to co-ordinate,” explains Graeme. “The minimum order was causing problems and meant the club had to try and hold stock, unsuccessfully. The company seemed more interested in promotional T-shirts and national sales than servicing local clubs. It appeared that some ranges of garments were manufactured overseas and we were quoted shipping issues for delays. The biggest issue though was sizing: a medium, for example, in different style ranges was different sizes, which caused massive confusion and frustration on collection of order, added to by the fact the next order couldn’t be placed for six months or until a further £3,000 worth of garments were needed. Some people waited a year for a garment.”
The club switched to Force GB in West Yorkshire a couple of years ago and Graeme says they don’t envisage a change of supplier in the future. “Force GB designs, prints and manufactures for us in house. They offer an excellent service on a one-to-one basis with our members. Minor alterations and size changes on individual garments are no bother; even after delivery, a garment can be sent back for alterations and with a quick turnaround there is no real delay in getting the order fulfilled. A big plus is that members can order one garment at a time directly from manufacturer and delivery is usually three weeks or so. Previously the club had to coordinate a big order twice a year and if you missed the order then it was six months before another was placed.”
Club-branded clothes are important amongst the cycling crowd. “Cycling is a very style-conscious sport,” explains Graeme. “Team recognition and club image mean a great deal so club colours are a big part of the club.” The club orders shorts, race tops, skin suits, and winter-weight long trousers/ tracksuits and tops. They have a range of summer- and winter-weight garments for both training and racing, most of which are Lycra. It’s all fairly standard cyclewear in that it is required to be practical, says Graeme, adding: “Costs are within the range expected for these type of garments.” The youth section also orders hoodies, T-shirts and hats once a year that are printed and embroidered for them to sell, with a small profit going to the youth section funds.
For those looking to supply a cycling club, Graeme says the main criteria is to provide quality garments that are supplied in a reasonable timescale. “The range of garments is important, but we have found you can’t please everyone,” he comments. “Some cycle tops nowadays are extremely technical and expensive, and we have found it’s not worth a manufacturer producing a top-of-the-line garment in state-of-the-art material for the odd sale every year, although our supplier is always keen to keep up with developments.”