After perusing all of the racks, diving deep into sales bins, searching online, all I saw was the SAME THING. Every women's cycling jersey seemed to be constructed pretty much the same as the men's version. The seams were generally in the same places. Any detail came from designs stamped on to the fabric. Lines kinda sorta called attention to a feminine form. It all felt sloppy, lazy, incomplete, and based upon a whole lot of erroneous assumptions about what women want and need.
I set out to create a truly unique women's cycling jersey and it was a sketchy beginning, quite literally.
I thought: can we rethink this, from scratch? Can we change how a jersey is constructed? I stared at a blank piece of paper and started to sketch. I drew lines where I wanted to create form, shape, and detail. Instead of superficial, decorative lines, these lines were where I wanted seams.
Once my post-it notes and scratch paper sketches started to seem like feasible ideas, I brought them to my pattern maker, whose job is to create the physical pattern--to literally put the pieces together.
She thought I was nuts. This is going to be complicated and expensive to sew. Why make it so complex? Because the result will be something actually different, like nothing else that exists. These designs will look better and fit better than anything out there *because* they are complex.
Hackneyed phrases like "stylish" or "fashionable" had such a broad interpretation in this space that they lost their meaning all together. I wanted to define "stylish" as something that wasn't such a departure from my "real clothes". I didn't want to feel like I was wearing a costume, or being told how to dress. I wanted simplicity, sophistication, and timeless style that came from how a jersey was put together--intrinsically, not from its superficial, after-thought, stamped-on designs.
My very first idea for a unique women's cycling jersey was the Wrapture Jersey, inspired by Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress. It flatters a woman's body type, revealing it tastefully, celebrating it with the way it hugs in just the right way. Why couldn't a cycling jersey do this?
Turns out it can! I like to describe the Wrapture Jersey as your favorite t-shirt: the indispensable, versatile one that fits well, and looks good.
The first sketch:
The finished product:
Next, The Corset Jersey was created to break up the amorphous shape of the typical cycling jersey. There was plainly nothing flattering about a piece of polyester stretched across the front of my body. I thought about what made a regular shirt or coat flattering. It was the seams and darts. So I thought deeper and the idea of a corset came to mind (no, not the function of a corset, but the style lines).
The Corset Jersey began to take shape. Style lines to break up the silhouette and gently curve in at the waist. A collar that pops with a little contrast color. You know, detail. Fabric that performs, protects against UV rays, lasts (apparently forever??), pockets big enough to hold everything you need, yet not sag. Slightly more compression on the bodice, slightly more stretch and more ventilation on the shoulders and arms.
The finished product:
Finally, the Hourglass Jersey came about because a waist is a terrible thing to waste, right? Until this point, cycling jerseys made me feel (for lack of a more articulate term here) gross. I thought: can I please just have something that makes me look and feel like a woman, not a little girl or a woman in men's clothes? Pen met paper and undulating lines revealed themselves. A plunging neckline compliments the side panels that curve in just above the hip. We injected femininity into this jersey with lines borrowed from haute couture. Yet, this jersey still holds up to other others when it comes to technical specifications. Yes, we can have it all!
The finished product:
So, it turns out, I wasn't nuts. We created not just one, but three unique women's cycling jerseys from a completely blank slate. We've proven that women's cycling apparel had room for growth, that fashion and fitness can coexist without producing a watered down less-than design. I like to say that we didn't necessarily reinvent the wheel, but we made it look a whole lot better.