With cycling on the increase in the UK, it’s a sector that offers plenty of potential for decorated garment sales. We take a look at the state of the market along with the latest cyclewear
In 2014, a whopping 3.63 million bikes were sold in Britain, an increase of 8% on the year before. In the same year a record 183,423 employees used the government’s tax-efficient Cycle to Work scheme, and cycle traffic has continued to rise every year in the UK since 2008.
According to Sport England, cycling is the third most popular sport in the UK, with 2 million people cycling each week, and there has been a large investment by the government in cycling infrastructure in many cities across the UK in the hope of further boosting these numbers. A big motivator has been the performance of British cyclists at sports events – 16 gold medals were won for cycling at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, and Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins have both done a huge amount to raise the status of cycling in the UK.
There are many cycling clubs across the country (turn to our Buyer’s feature to read about West Lothian Clarion Club’s cyclewear purchasing habits), and British Cycling reports that there are more than 4,000 cycling events taking place each year with over 300,000 entrants. It’s an exciting market for decorators to tap into and one that is most definitely not limited to sponsored bike rides: there are track races, BMX races, time trials, mountain bike events, circuit competitions, cyclo-cross races, school bike clubs… Even the National Trust announced in February this year that it has partnered up with Sport England to invest £4.25 million in creating ten new cycle trails. Branded club tops, personalised gear for individual cyclists, souvenir items for cycling events, promotional products and merchandise for cycling brands – there are endless possibilities for those who want to expand their business through decorated (and blank) cyclewear sales.
Technical garments for the dedicated cyclist
According to GForce, its cyclewear is the “wheel-deal”. Cheesy puns aside, the range contains a number technical garments designed for cyclists, including a cycling top, cycling short and cycling bib, all of which can be dye-sublimated. The UK-based sportswear designer uses the latest Veloforce fabric from its factory in Leicester, a 200 gsm material that provides an advanced compression fit with high wicking properties to regulate temperature control and recovery.
The company says that its success in this market is down to its experience and knowledge of how important it is to deliver high quality, affordable, multi-sport apparel with low order quantities. Its new GForce Sprint Service offers lead times of four to five weeks.
Another well-known leader in the bike clothing market is Spiro, which has its own Bikewear range that the brand says “blends the latest high performance fabrics and cutting edge technology with designs that meet or exceed the rigorous requirements of the wearer”. New for 2016 is the S263X Winter Hat, a windproof, breathable and lightweight hat that can be worn under a bike helmet. It is made from a soft brushed fabric for comfort, and features flatlock seams, breathable contour-fit panels, a reflective print to rear for added visibility, and ear flaps for extra protection in cold weather. It’s available in black and suitable for transfer print.
Also new this year is Spiro’s S265X Cycling Long Bib. This full length, lightweight, windproof and breathable bib has flatlock seams for comfort, contour-fit panels, a zip-closing key pocket to the outside centre back, reflective print to right leg and rear facing, slimline ankle zip with snapdown puller, padded hip and thigh outer panel and supportive upper with high stretch bound straps. The lightweight garment is made from a soft athletic fabric that fits the body comfortably. Also available in a women’s fit, the unisex bib is available in S/M, L/XL and 2/XL/3XL, and is suited to transfer printing.
The Spiro Bikewear Long Sleeve Performance Top (SR255M), made from a Cool-Dry performance fabric, is available from PenCarrie. Lightweight with breathable contour-fit panels and UV-protection, it is quick drying, and there is a women’s equivalent – the Spiro Ladies Bikewear Long Sleeve Performance Top (SR255F). To help stay comfortable on longer rides, PenCarrie recommends the Ronhill Padded Bike Shorts (RH053, women’s style RH053F), which are a comfy 90% polyamide/10% elastane mix. With a technical knitted fabric with great stretch and recovery, the Coolmax inner pad adds extra comfort and the gripper hem means they won’t ride up while riding.
Prestige Leisurewear also flags up Spiro’s Bikewear range, making special mention of the ¼ Zip Top (R188M) – “A great cyclewear garment”. Made from 100% polyester Cool-Dry performance fabric, it offers fast-wicking control to keep the skin cool and comfortable. It is extremely lightweight, has a reflective print design on the central back position and offers UV-protection.
BTC activewear similarly rates the new Spiro bikewear range, highlighting the Men’s Padded Bike Shorts (S18M, women’s style code S187F), both of which are made from Cool-Dry quick drying performance fabric and are windproof, breathable and lightweight, as well as the aforementioned Men’s and Women’s Bikewear Long Sleeved Performance Tops (S255M/S255F).
Other tops available through BTC activewear that are made from smart fabrics and therefore ideal for cycling are the Men’s Performance Raglan (ST8200, women’s style ST8300) from Active by Stedman, which is made from 100% Active-Dry polyester mélange and available in four colours, and Gamegear’s Men’s Cooltex Action Short Sleeve T-Shirt (KK976). The Gamegear shirt has a self-fabric collar and is made from 100% polyester micro-mesh with moisture-management properties.
James & Nicholson offers a range of shirts, jackets, shorts and vests that the company says are inspired by the needs of cyclists. The Men´s Bike-T (JN420, women’s style JN419) is a wicking, quick-drying, light and comfortable top that has an anatomical raglan design, reflective zipper, contrasting insets and low-friction flat seams. It also features a three-layer back pocket. The women’s style is slightly waisted.
Performance T-shirts and the importance of layering
“While conventional close-fitting cyclewear is the choice of many serious cyclists, not everyone wants to go that route. The more body conscious, the commuter and the occasional weekend cyclist, for example, might want a less fitted, more casual look, but with the same great technical qualities of more specialist cycle gear,” points out Fruit of the Loom. With that in mind, the brand recommends its Active Performance Wear range whose moisture-wicking garments are made from 100% textured polyester with Cool Wear technology. Men have a choice of vest, polo, T-shirt and shorts; women can choose from a vest, polo and T-shirt; and children can opt for the T-shirt and shorts. The vest and T-shirt come in nine colours, the polo in five and the shorts in four complementary colours. BTC activewear also recommends Fruit of the Loom’s Men’s and Ladies’ Performance Polos (63038/63040) for cycling thanks to their moisture-wicking and quick-dry properties.
Finden+Hales recommends its Team Base Layer (LV260), commenting: “Cycling during winter months can be challenging, which is why choosing the right clothing and equipment is important for enhancing performance.” Its Team Base Layer can be worn beneath a performance T such as the brand’s Performance Panel T (LV240). The base layer, which is available in eight colours, features long sleeves, a low turtleneck to protect the main body from cold winds (and a potential location for branding) and micro flatlock seams for comfort when moving the body and to prevent abrasion. It is made from 170 gsm Coolpass wicking fabric (88% polyester/12% Spandex), which helps to regulate body temperature and keep the wearer cool and dry.
For early birds when the mornings are still slightly chilly, Just Cool by AWDis says the Men’s Cool 1/2 Zip Sweat (JC031) and Girlie Cool 1/2 Zip Sweat (JC036) make the perfect layer. Made from Just Cool’s CoolFit fabric, both styles have a tight fit with raglan sleeves to allow a natural range of motion with ease, and are available in five colour combinations. Features include self-fabric contrast colour binding at the zip, cuffs and hem; a stand-up collar with chin guard to reduce irritation; and a reflective tab at the back neck to keep headphone cords in place.
Both of these styles can be paired with the Men’s Cool Sports Legging (JC083) and the Girlie Cool Athletic Pant (JC087). The JC083 is a lightweight legging with a tight fit. The elasticated waistband creates a comfortable fit while the flat seams help reduce irritation. This product is ideal for layering and is available in Jet Black and sizes S-2XL. The Girlie Cool Athletic Pant, which is made from Just Cool’s Cool Fit fabric, features an elasticated smooth waistband with a hidden inner pocket, flat seams for less irritation and contrast colour stitching (available in three colours). This style is available in five colours, with charcoal added this year and in sizes XS-XL.
The latest figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show that 3,400 cyclists were seriously injured in 2014, and 113 killed. While the majority of accidents took place during the day, accidents in the dark were more likely to be fatal, hence the need for cyclists to ensure they are highly visible to other vehicles.
Prestige Leisure recommends Tombo’s High Vis Lightweight Jacket (TL55), a showerproof jacket with full zip, contrast side panels with reflective piping, rear pocket with reflective piping and a curved drop tail with drawcord and toggle. “Bright colours and reflective clothing are smart options to wear when it’s dark, dusky, rainy or any other time when there is a good chance you may not be seen,” adds Tombo. “We take sports seriously, which is why our TL55 Hi Vis Lightweight Jacket in bright bold neon yellow is designed with comfort, endurance and safety in mind. The jacket also features reflective piping to allow you to be seen on those dark mornings and nights.” The brand suggests teaming the jacket with its Zip Neck Polo (TL561) in 100% polyester. The polo has a close-fitting neck and raglan sleeves that offer plenty of free movement, perfect for cycling.
RTY Enhanced Visibility has a range of vests that allow cyclists to be seen when out. Designed for recreational use, the Enhanced Visibility Vest (EV086) and the Enhanced Visibility Kids Vest (EV087) are sleeveless styles with a tear-and-release front fastening making it easy to put on and take off the garment. Two reflective tape bands – around the torso and over the shoulder – ensure the wearer will be seen in the dark and the seven bright colours ensure visibility at all times. The Enhanced Visibility Vest is available in sizes S-2XL and the Enhanced Visibility Kids Vest is available in sizes S-L.
A new Stormtech launch for 2016 is the SPR-1 1/4 Zip – a H2X-DRY moisture-wicking spandex fleece that offers freedom of movement and breathability when worn as a layering piece. The fleece includes contrast flatlock stitching, thumb holes, chin saver, and convertible handwarmer cuffs.
Russell points out that the last census in 2011 showed that nearly 3/4 million people in the UK cycle to work and given the country’s inclement weather, they need a stylish jacket that is capable of protecting them from the rain. The 520 Sport Shell 5000 Jacket from Russell is breathable and has a durable water-repellent finish so as to provide maximum protection against the cold and rain. It has been engineered for high activity, making it a great choice for cyclists, and is made from a naturally stretchy fabric for maximum body response, giving the wearer a sleek and fashionable silhouette. Design details include laser-cut pockets, matt waterproof zips on the sleeves and chest, adjustable cuffs and internal MP3 inner pockets.