Based in Poole, Dorset, Prendas Ciclismo has established itself as one of the most unique and respected brands in cycling. Set up in 1996, the company has carved out a niche for itself in an increasingly crowded clothing market. It is probably best known for its fine reproductions of some of the most sport’s iconic clothing designs, but it also has its own impressive range of clothing.
One of the things we admire most about the brand is the support it gives to the cycling industry. They recently began sponsoring The British Continental, of course. But their support extends much further. From good causes (like the Dave Rayner Fund) to respected blogs (like the Inner Ring) and start-up cycling teams (e.g. Drops), Prendas have a long track record in supporting grassroots racing. They also commission great pieces for their blog, documenting the history of the sport.
One thing is clear: Prendas boss Andy Storey and his staff aren’t just in this to shift merchandise. They are also massive fans of the sport and its history. It’s one of the reasons they were on our initial shortlist when looking for lead sponsors. And why we were delighted when they said yes to us.
We caught up Storey to ask him about the history of the brand, trends in cycle clothing, his favourite domestic team kits and the British race he loves the most.
I’m still very much in love with the sport of cycling, riding to work every day
How did Prendas Ciclismo start?
Prendas Ciclismo was created by Mick Tarrant in 1996 in a pre-internet era of fax machines, address books and hand written notes. I helped Mick out on a part time basis with magazine adverts, creating the company’s first website in 1999, later joining the business full time in 2004. In October 2017, I took over after Mick decided to retire from the business, giving him more time to ride.
What does the Prendas Ciclismo brand mean to you?
We set out to offer our worldwide customers with good quality clothing with real-world pricing, often unique to us, all from our warehouse in Poole, Dorset.
What makes Prendas Ciclismo different to other brands?
Our direct-to-consumer business model is nothing ground-breaking really, especially in this day an age, but when you add our low overheads, excellent customer service and decades of industry experience, we have an agile business that is highly capable of competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Whilst we are probably most well known for our retro jerseys, we also offer a great range of own-brand products such as cycling caps and socks that have graced the heads, hands and feet of national, European, World and Olympic champions – sometimes with our wigwam logo Sharpie’d out!
Have you noticed any major shifts in cycle clothing in recent years? Are people obsessed with aero gains or is it fashion before purpose?
For me personally, it’s the way prices have escalated. It would be easy to point the finger at some brands in particular, but I’m still very much in love with the sport of cycling, riding to work every day, which hopefully keeps my feet on the ground when setting our range and prices. Ultimately, I need to square it away in my own head that we’re providing our customers with value for money.
Brexit has also have a huge impact on the value of the pound in the buying process, with many in the cycling industry, including us having to increase prices to try and offset the fall in value of the pound that’s occurred since the referendum result.
What do you look for in a manufacturer that makes you want to stock them?
Many of our suppliers are friends and we pride ourselves in not going down the cheap manufacturing route and work directly with high-end manufacturers in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
What is your all-time favourite cycling jersey?
If I can only choose one, I’d have to say the Brooklyn jersey, made famous by Roger de Vlaeminck. As well as the bold and iconic aesthetics of the garment itself, back in the 1990s, I was lucky enough to ride with The Gypsy on two separate occasions when de Vlaeminck came to England.
Of the domestic teams, do kits standout in particular?
Having sponsored them in their first year in the peloton, I’ll always have a soft spot for Drops and the multi-coloured striped look we helped create. I also like the red, white and blue theme used by my brother & sister-in-law’s Storey racing. From the men’s side, I always liked the look of the Rapha Condor team. From the current crop, I’d say the Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK team have a good look – red, black and red is a great three-way colour combination.
There seems to be a big range of styles in current cycling clothing. When you are out riding, do you like to go for ‘maximal’ bright, crazy patterns and graphics, or are you a ‘minimal’ kind of person who prefers plainer, clean timeless designs?
My current favourite is our Milk Race jersey from our Forgotten Races collection. Out of the five different designs that we have available, that’s the one that I save for a sunny weekend ride like the photo attached at the start of a recent Gravel ride around Poole Harbour.
I prefer to wear something visible top half, but for bib shorts, I usually choose something that is kit neutral meaning it can be worn with a wider variety of jerseys. My current favourites are the Santini TONO bib shorts. They offer great quality materials combined with a top level seat pad.
What’s your favourite British race, past or present, and why?
Favourite race of the past has to be the Milk Race. It was a regular visitor to Bournemouth, bringing a real atmosphere to the town, and the fact that top-level local amateur riders like Paul Rogers and Ben Luckwell were on the start line shoulder to shoulder with the pros, it gave you something to aim for.
For the same reasons, I now enjoy the Tour Series. I think the way that local teams are allowed to take part is certainly a good thing, although I’d like to see more activation between the local cycling community and the event. I think a lunchtime 50km ride-out from the host cities with pro riders taking in the local scenery would bring additional people and money into the local economy, complementing the racing after 5pm.
Thanks to Greg Trowman for helping to put together the questions for this interview.
Featured photo: Sean Hardy