How did the brand Café du Cycliste come to life?
It came to life for the first time in the actual “Café du Cycliste”, a perfect mid-ride coffee stop nestled in the hills above Nice. Its a place steeped in the atmosphere of a traditional French Cafe and home to an eclectic mix of of customers including cyclists, locals, workers and tourists. Feeling a little uncomfortable in our usual performance wear amongst this French café crowd, we came to the conclusion that a range of technical and yet elegant cycling apparel was what was needed. Sharing a post ride hot chocolate one winter day in 2010, we made the decision to create the brand and start the adventure.
What is it like to work alongside the French riviera? How does it inspire you, your products and your company?
Our modern “tailored-tech” style is actually the result of a very broad and rich set of different influences. Inspiration certainly comes from the perception we have of the French clothing and fashion tradition and also the sights and sounds of our beloved French Riviera. The area is very much a cycling ‘Mecca’ with numerous pro teams and riders making it their base and many large events such as Paris- Nice and Milan-San Remo. As a result the cycling scene is incredibly vibrant and this is matched with perhaps the most glamorous landscape in France, the coast line between Nice and Monaco. Its a potent mix which we try to capture in our clothing.
What are your other inspiration sources?
We also love to look in detail at other sports; their clothing can often be the start of new ideas from both a style or a technical perspective. Ultimately we’re are big fans of any brands (clothing or non clothing) that master the difficult art of creating a product with the perfect blend of classic style, a modern feel and technical excellence.
What’s unique with your apparel?
We want our clothing to reflect who our customers actually are instead of who the traditional cycling world is telling them they should be. Like most cyclists, we’re not pro riders so we feel no need to buy “costumes” that are supposed to make us look like pros. The majority of cycling brands claim a DNA based on pro level road racing and the perceived technical superiority of their products but this approach also dictates their style choices. Cafe du Cycliste clothing is equally technical, in many ways even more so, but from that starting point we then produce clothing for serious cyclists who prefer to be well dressed rather than dressed-up. In essence, we offer riders an alternative style while never compromising on the functionality of our products.
Could you take us through the process of creating a piece from the drawing board to riding it?
The starting point is more often than not simply an idea or a basic concept of a product that we would like to ride in. The next step is to do some serious research on how to bring this idea to life, what the possible technical solutions are and then what colour and shape the garment should take on. Once the idea is more fully formed, we then draw it over and over again until we are completely happy with how it looks. Once we’ve got to this stage then we produce a technical file which includes every detail of its construction – this is what allows us to move on to making a prototype. We can produce any number of these prototypes, as many as it takes to get the product exactly right. Some complex or very innovative pieces such as the Antoinette combined bib shorts and base layer require multiple prototypes to be made before we can even start to test ride them. There are no hard and fast rules from here on, sometimes we make what seems like endless changes to fine tune the details and occasionally we have to throw everything out and start again. And, of course, not all products which go into development actually make it into production.
What are your dreams and visions?
We would very much like to see the continued development of cycling from being viewed as a great spectator sport to something which is an integral part of life to as many people as possible. Cycling can integrate seamlessly into so many aspects of modern life no matter who you are, whether it be leisure, transportation, social, health and fitness, travel, personal challenge, fashion…
We hope – and occasionally dream – that we can be a very small part of making this happen.