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PRO Style: Euro StyleDoping
Excerpt from our interview with patron Uli Fluhme, founder of the GFNY Grand Fondo series:
"As a kid growing up in the late 80s there was not a lot of choice there for kit. Either you had a generic jersey you found at the bike shop or you could buy a pro kit. Club jerseys were just a simple jersey with the club name on it, not much better.
To me real style starts with how guys look on the bike, how they sit and they pedal. Some pros like Ivan Basso, Frank Vandenbroucke, or Andrea Tafi looked phenomenal on their bikes. A guy with a 54 frame and a slammed 140 stem that can pull it off looks so fluid, beautiful on the bike. Off a bike of course, they look terrible; hunched over, sunken eyes and emancipated, they should never get off the bike."
Lets take a look at some of the perfectly coiffed, juiced-up style gods of the 90s and early aughts on their bikes. Who do you think?
All about the Caps (not hats)
Eddy Merckx always wore his with an extra dash of style. Sean Kelly pioneered the poofy-top hat look with maximum "luft." That extra air was supposed to insulate and warm the rider's head — but let's be honest: it was just to look extra-boss.
In the '80s, bike messengers embraced caps and they leaked into street and popular culture, even hi-fashion. Caps became the most iconic cycling accessory. And it became permissible, even dare we say fashionable, to wear them off-the-bike.
Greg LeMond's New Jersey
I worked as design director for Greg LeMond for several years. LeMond may no longer be a world-class bike racer, but he is still a world-class raconteur. It was never boring.
One of my favorite stories was about the formation of the La Vie Claire team in 1984. It was the first cycling super-team, featuring Bernard Hinault and of course the young LeMond serving as super-domestique / rival (but that's anotherstory). Team owner Bernard Tapie was a very successful French businessman, politician and occasional actor, singer, and TV host — know the type? So when he put together the team he wanted it to be the biggest thing that had ever happened in cycling.
The team introduction was a lavish affair and the highlight was the jersey unveiling. Tapie had hired a very expensive high-fashion designer to create the kits, and no one had seen them before the unveiling except the designer. When the curtain rose it was simply an all-black jersey. Tapie and Hinault were mortified; this was long before Martha Stewart, Apple and Rapha had made minimalism mainstream.
In a panic, Tapie took a chance on an unknown fashion student, who came up up with the idea of using Mondrain's patterns as a bike jersey. In the pop-fashion inspired 60s, this had been done many times but no one had done anything like this in sportswear or cycling. Long story short: the jersey was an instant classic and is now remembered as perhaps the greatest jersey design of all times. Well, until our Punk jersey burst on the scene — and yes, LeMond has one of those too.
Kit washing: You are probably doing it wrong
Does your kit start to fade too soon? It may surprise you to learn it's not because you keep getting it dirty, it's the way you are cleaning it that's usually the problem,. If you use an enzyme-based detergent like Tide, the enzymes will fade the dyes quickly. And of course warm or hot water makes it even worse.
The solution is to stop using soap with enzymes, perfume or dyes. You can try specialty soap made for athletic clothing, like Assos detergent for washing cycling clothes, but it isn't necessary, and of course the price is fittingly Assos-ish. Trader Joes makes a non-enzyme detergent, as do many others like Seventh Generation.
How to wash: Add your clothes, fill the washing machine with water, and mix in your detergent last. This will keep residue from clogging up your high-performance fabrics, which are designed to wick away moisture and keep you cool when you sweat. Stay away from fabric softener and always hang dry.
One tip we got from a pro-cycling soigneur was to use vinegar: Pour 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar into your washing machine instead of the detergent you would normally use. This will clean your clothes without the harsh chemicals found in many commercial laundry detergents, and keep them looking new for a long time.