Vulpine: fifteen thoughts on value

Company founder Nick Hussey talks about all the things that go into a quality cycling garment, and the value they add

by Dave Atkinson   March 22, 2013  

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Nick Hussey is the founder of Vulpine cycling apparel, who launched in March 2012. They are about to launch their women’s range and support Matrix Fitness Racing Academy as well as creating free cycling events, the Vulpine Cycling Fetes, which raise money for cycling charities. Their stuff is quite pricey. www.vulpine.cc

I run a cycling apparel company. Our gear is on the higher price side. I’ll say expensive if it helps. I’m going to try to demonstrate that we provide huge value, not just to you the cyclist, but to cycling itself, which all comes back to help us all.

I’ve spent years researching manufacturing, and putting that research into practice. I got to create a company from scratch. I like quality. And quality costs. According to the little panel of sliding scales that are your personal wants, needs, finances, aims and funny little peccadilloes, we all make a decision to tip the scales in one direction or another towards a cheap or pricey purchase. Here are some of the things we consider at Vulpine. Every day.

1. Fit & comfort
Fitting takes time. Bad fit makes you look, and feel, pants. Fit is tied directly to quality and consistency of construction and use of materials. Scrimp on these and you lose. Comfort is a blend of many things. The fit, whether you sweat to much, are hot, cold or clammy, the zip chafes, the labels itch... there's a lot to consider

2. Fabric
Fabric makes a garment. Its what we as a company spend most of our money on (apart from taxes). Great fabrics cost £12 a yard and more. Epic Cotton, which I decided we’d use extensively after testing many fabrics, takes months simply to produce, before it even reaches our factory. It is made from cotton woven from fibres that are individually extruded through silicon at a microscopic level. So it looks and feels like Cotton, but is waterproof. And breathable. It is tested many times before being released to us. And all that perfection costs.

Lots of talk about merino wool on forums and in reviews. Its awesome stuff. I had the opportunity to build clothing from the ground up, with whatever I wanted. And I chose merino where possible for skin-contact tops. We use the best. The thinnest finest possible fibres, woven to a very high quality, that won’t bobble, or smell, or stretch, or shrink. Cheap merino isn’t the same as expensive merino.

Great fabrics hang well. And get you admiring winks. Even half way up Alpe d’huez. Maybe.

3. Performance
Performance is many things: Resistance to odour, breathability, aerodynamics, even looks. But lets say its the racey stuff. Cheap gear loses you time, and stops you winning. And gives you bottom boils. Laurent Fignon lost the Tour that way. So cheap gear loses you the biggest race in cycling. Fact. Sort of.

4. Innovation
Nothing moves forward if you’re making cheap gear. And if there is anything new put in, it has to go through proper research and development, and that's really costly. If you want us to do the testing – not you – it costs us many samples and prototypes, experiments, buying lengths of techy fabrics, trying new methods, riding lots, going to meetings with boffins and wind tunnels (we don’t use wind tunnels).

Nobody makes cheap gear and develops a spanking new fabric. They buy stock fabric and add a cool tech name to it. Then it sounds like it’s had loads of white-coated boffins slaving for years in a vault over a turbo trainer. Actually, its just nice bloke in a t-shirt and jeans hunched over a PC with an underused English Lit degree. Xenoz Odour Control System. RSX Tiltmatrix Aeroporous Shield. Boron Flight Control with Plastination Mark IV HydroControl.

5. Care
Washing can wreck a garment. Glues can dissolve, bobbles appear, stitching comes loose, treatments wash off, etc. Great fabrics benefit from washing and will last the course of their life without re-treatment.

Cheap fabrics are a nightmare to iron and remove creases from. And can even degrade. Ironing is a hateful task. Make it easier.

Cheap things fall apart. We all know that. Buy one jacket for £50 and it lasts 6 months. Another for £200 that lasts 5 years. That makes the pricey jacket better value in my book.

6. Trim
Fabric is key, but what about the zips, labels, buttons, fasteners, linings, thread? Zips should last years, not weeks. Buttons shouldn’t pop off. Labels should be soft and malleable. If the bottom line is very tight, trims get churned out as cheap as physically possible. Those extra little bits make you smile and go mmmmmm. Like V-stitched buttons or magnet closures (blatant plug).

7. Badness
Making things really really cheaply will always mean something (world) or somebody (workers) has to suffer. Cheap synthetic materials create waste. And emerging third World economies may not govern all their factory standards, age limits and wages very well. Or at all. Like I say, somebody has to suffer somewhere.

Which leads to a common misconception. The Far East is not universally cheap. Its certainly not why I make Vulpine clothing there. Vulpine is only made in the factories that give me the high quality, low return rates and solid assurances that I (and indeed our customers) need.  For better or worse, the best facilities most manufacturers find are in China and the Far East. These countries are not backwaters. Hugely impressive technology is in use in these factories. And wages are far better, because great factories need to attract great staff.

8. Customer service
Companies have to employ enough good people who really care to make sure you’re treated well. And nobody cares that much on minimum wage. If a manufacturer is working on very tight margins, service is out the window. And what value do you and I place on getting a polite, helpful reply that gets you where you want to be? What if you need to send your garment back? What if there's a problem? You’re not going to get an easy ride with poor customer service and low prices.

9. Love
Great garments are made with love. We really love cycling and what we do here at Vulpine. You’re buying something that huge passion was poured into. You might care. You might not. We think it shows.

10. Style
A continuation of blend of so many of the above. Style does not come cheaply. It doesn’t have to be stupidly expensive either. We’re not going to be making £3000 handbags. But we do really think about every detail and we have experience to share.

11. Brand
What? Why pay for a brand? Because brands take huge care to create. They represent values. The brand you wear makes a statement about you. Cheap or expensive, it's your choice. Brands don’t just appear one day, they are nurtured. Suits you sir. Or madam.

12. We're small, and British
Cheap garments are made in mind-bogglingly huge numbers to get economies of scale. Being different means lower runs, greater care and higher prices. Especially for new businesses. We get the thin end of the wedge, as we have little power to wield and have no economies of scale. We haven’t passed on those difficulties to our pricing, because it’ll put you off. So we take the hit.

Often, not always, there is a small premium to pay for buying from a fledgling British company. Its not easy to create things here.

13. Women’s ranges
A counter-intuitive one this. It is very expensive to create each new line, so it’d be easier for a large company with major resources. But large companies are driven by results. Their attitude is often that women’s clothing is a dangerous experiment. People in corporate hierarchies hate risk. Small entrepreneurial companies are more exposed to failure by taking risks, but will take them anyway because we often care more about cycling as a whole, rather than just the quarterly results.

14. Supporting cycling
Companies that have some room to breathe can give something back. Sponsorship, charity, mentoring and other nice things.

15. Nice coffee
Nice people need fuel. Sorry. Bit selfish that one. Mmm, coffee.

We also have to pay wages, rent, National Insurance, Import Duty, Corporation Tax, shipping, storage, rent, utilities, computers & tech, website coding, server, etc etc...It doesn’t FEEL like we’re poor value for money!

Hopefully I’ve given an interesting and fair window into our, and many other great manufacturers’ products and thinking.

So now, please, pretty please, can road.cc stop marking us down on value?

57 user comments

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crikey wrote:
Has Mr Vulpine 'I'll engage with the public because that's what us trendy media savvy companies do' gone home for his tea then?

No stamina, these young fellas...

Just finished bath time for the wee fella, then dinner, then hopefully back to you tonight. Is 39 3/4 young?

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 20:45

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Here's the thing that people who moan about Rapha, and Vulpine, and Assos, and all the rest don't quite get.
If you can't afford things, it's ok. I can't afford the latest 11 speed Di2 groupset, and I can't afford the delicious new top of the line Cervelo frame.
And that's ok.
I can't afford a mansion on the edge of Hampstead Heath, and I can't afford to drive around town in a big car, and that's ok too.
I can't, sadly, justify spending £250 on a rain jacket right now either, but that's ok, I can make do with what I have for now.

I've got a lovely bike that I bought second hand and lavished yet more time and money on, and I've picked up some lovely bits of Rapha in the sample sale, and at some point when I've got more disposable income I'll probably pick up a little bit more. I've got a lovely little house on a great little road and most sundays I get out with a few friends and go as fast as I can up a load of hills and that, my friends, is ok.

If you can't afford things, it doesn't matter. If you don't want to spend lots on your clothes, that doesn't matter either. Just enjoy the fact that stuff like this exists - that there's stuff at every price point - and enjoy a great hobby without moaning that some people are happy to spend more money on it.

posted by bashthebox [610 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 20:50

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Please let's stop this marketing brainwash.

Vulpine is just another premium quality brand for "cool" urban folks and certainly doesn't represent anything what most of people would consider as "value".
Many "common" brands offer good looking and fitting kit that will do exactly the same job for much less and will not "fall apart after 6 months".

For anyone who actually cycles a lot, value of the kit apart from a satisfactory fit and functionality is determined mainly by initial outlay (time value of money!) and cost per mile until destruction/deterioration. It really is as simple as that.

This is not a criticism of Vulpine as a brand but the attempts of portraying it as something it is not.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [172 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 20:55

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I can't understand why people fork out thousands for a Colnago when you can get a perfectly decent bike at Decathlon for £300...even cheaper at Aldi or Lidl!

Harrumph Big Grin

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [134 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 21:01

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BBB wrote:
Please let's stop this marketing brainwash.

Vulpine is just another premium quality brand for "cool" urban folks and certainly doesn't represent anything what most of people would consider as "value".
Many "common" brands offer good looking and fitting kit that will do exactly the same job for much less and will not "fall apart after 6 months".

For anyone who actually cycles a lot, value of the kit apart from a satisfactory fit and functionality is determined mainly by initial outlay (time value of money!) and cost per mile until destruction/deterioration. It really is as simple as that.

This is not a criticism of Vulpine as a brand but the attempts of portraying it as something it is not.

You've kind of skipped over all the points Mr Vulpine makes there, haven't you? Not sure why I'm now feeling the need to defend him, but as far as I see it, the reason to buy Vulpine is style, fit, quality and not being smelly. For those of us who ride to work or friends in a big city, it makes very good sense to have a jacket that can be worn both when on or off the bike. I'm happy to spend £200 on a half decent coat, so why not the same on something bike specific that can also function as a normal jacket?
I don't know about you, but I like to look good on a bike. It's why my city bike is a beautiful classic steel thing, and it's why I keep my carbon weekend bike clean and maintained. It's why I hand wash my lycra for god's sake!

posted by bashthebox [610 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 21:01

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Hi Nick,

I have the Vulpine gilet, and I like it. Was given it as a gift (after I dropped the right hints). Great colour, good size pockets (can fit a folded OS map, for instance) and yes, the detailing is really nice. If I had one comment, it would be about fit: it's just a shade on the generous side. I can see that there's a dilemma in sizing for committed road cyclists who will want something completely trim, and sizing for trips to the pub, which call for something a bit more relaxed.

If I had a bike clothing wish, it'd be for long and short sleeved jerseys, in solid colours, wool or wool blend, without the very strong branding that the Rapha has. They think the stripe is subtle: actually, it's not. Ideally at slightly less than £130 a pop. I know there's a Torm jersey, but it doesn't tempt for some reason.

Best of luck!

posted by Charlie_ [8 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 21:31

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bashthebox wrote:
BBB wrote:
Please let's stop this marketing brainwash.

Vulpine is just another premium quality brand for "cool" urban folks and certainly doesn't represent anything what most of people would consider as "value".
Many "common" brands offer good looking and fitting kit that will do exactly the same job for much less and will not "fall apart after 6 months".

For anyone who actually cycles a lot, value of the kit apart from a satisfactory fit and functionality is determined mainly by initial outlay (time value of money!) and cost per mile until destruction/deterioration. It really is as simple as that.

This is not a criticism of Vulpine as a brand but the attempts of portraying it as something it is not.

You've kind of skipped over all the points Mr Vulpine makes there, haven't you? Not sure why I'm now feeling the need to defend him, but as far as I see it, the reason to buy Vulpine is style, fit, quality and not being smelly. For those of us who ride to work or friends in a big city, it makes very good sense to have a jacket that can be worn both when on or off the bike. I'm happy to spend £200 on a half decent coat, so why not the same on something bike specific that can also function as a normal jacket?
I don't know about you, but I like to look good on a bike. It's why my city bike is a beautiful classic steel thing, and it's why I keep my carbon weekend bike clean and maintained. It's why I hand wash my lycra for god's sake!

I completely agree with you about fit, quality etc... but not value. That's what my post was about.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [172 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 21:34

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39 and 3/4s is youngish, especially compared to me, and dinner is a meal in the middle of the day hence 'school dinners' rather than school lunches.... But we digress...

A question; is UK cycling culture immature?

I'm thinking of the Dutch/Belgian approach and alluding to the idea that UK firms seem keen to sell 'cycling clothing' to people who don't want to be seen to be cyclists., while those cultures where cycling is accepted as just another mode of transport seem to manage very well.

I can't help thinking of driving gloves...

posted by crikey [106 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 21:50

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Oh blimey, need another computer open to cross-reference all the points. Thought I better reply before it gets too difficult.

Hokay, quite answers as dinner nearly ready!...

@raleigh853
Um, I've tried to build products that last a long time. The 5 year thing was an example. But I've been testing for three and they're going strong. We don't make a £250 jacket by the way.
Almost all our marketing is on social media, which is just typing stuff, and events like our Fetes, which are free to enter and just cost an awful lot of time and effort (ouch).
But let me assure you that starting ANY company is not easy. I've done some fairly mad stuff in my time and this is by far and away the hardest. I never knew I was capable of this. But heh its my choice, so can't complain!
It's completely impossible to build a factory in the UK. They cost many tens of millions to create. As I say (though of course your right not to believe me!) my factories are very high-end and conditions are very good. They have to be to attract great staff. China is a very technologically advanced country and swayed by market forces.
There is a lot of choice out there. I don't make the only cycling gear, so don't buy Vulpine! It would be fair criticism if I was squeezing a monopoly. I don't THINK we are bought just by MAMILS. I don't really like giving people tags and putting them in boxes. Our customers tend to be people who are into design and the enjoyment of riding a bike. Which is awesome. That has many guises. MAMILS are a very different bunch, I believe, from single speed urban warriors, but I say, if you ride a bike, good on you! And if you don't buy Vulpine, no worries. I've been involved and helping cycling long enough to, hopefully, have got rid of the judgementalism.
Cycling is lovely. In what ever form. In whatever clothes.

@Crikey
There are loads of cycling specific features on our clothes. Namely breathable odourless fabric, cut, etc. Most 'fashion' jackets wouldn't cut it.

@thereandbackagain
Thank you. Indeed, a fsahion jacket will have a much higher markup for a non-technical garment.
Thanks for your support.

@Crikey
An awful lot of thought went in. *head hurts* Not sure what a Designer Jacket is. But I designed a jacket, so I guess that's it? Wink

@BBB
I must be really clever if I'm brainwashing. I just love great photography (my Mum was a pro photographer) and great design. It my thing. I might as well build a company I enjoy.
I didn't completely follow you, but what are we trying to portray ourselves as, when we are not? I just really like to be transparent, so bit confused!

@Charlie_
Yea, our sizing is not tight, so it can suit being worn over stuff. We have loads of great men's and women's merino out in a couple of weeks. Thanks for your feedback and support!

@Crikey
London (for instance) is a big place. The distances covered require more specific gear. Plus we just have a different cycling culture. Any trip down the road tells us that (tries not to swear at passing mad driver).

Ok, I'm knackered. Back tomorrow. Will try to reply to what I can.
Its all good clean fun!

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 22:10

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BBB wrote:

I completely agree with you about fit, quality etc... but not value. That's what my post was about.

Alright. Name a brand which offers fit, quality, advanced technical fabrics, detailing and style that is significantly cheaper.
I'm not sure once exists.
So here's the thing that you're ignoring - good value isn't about buying things as cheaply as possible for the job they're meant to do. If it was, I'd be buying Tesco Value chickens instead of quality meat for a little more from my butcher. I'd be buying tins of special brew instead of using my wine society sub. Yes I know this sounds dreadfully middle class, but as a mildly intelligent chap I like to make informed decisions as a consumer - and that means spending a little more if it gives my good value.

As an aside, I bought some bibs from Lidl once, for 20 quid. Used them for one ride. Bought some bibs from Assos for £120. Have used them maybe 70 times so far, still good as new.

posted by bashthebox [610 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 22:19

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When I think about the people I have met in recent years, Simon Mottram, Nick Hussey, Aaron Firth, Anna Glowinski, all who have started clothing companies in the UK. One common theme shines through. A true passion for cycling. I'm not going to moan about cost. Why? Because I care about cycling, I promote it often enough. I even love those miserable commutes or early starts when the skies are a bit meh. But being distinctive, presentable, comfortable and instantly mobile for meetings across town, in all weathers is important to me. And I'd rather spend my money on quality clothing, then taxis and trains. If you ask me, 'what is my favourite piece of kit? Honestly, it's a pair of 3/4 length bib shorts from Descente, which have lasted five winters of hard weekend riding, belgian tours and quite a few commutes.

Wishing you every success with Vulpine, Nick. And well done for addressing women's clothing needs in cycling.

Almac68

posted by almac68 [9 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 23:00

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notfastenough wrote:

I think there is a large degree of reverse snobbery. I liken it to Apple.

Hmmm, not sure I get this. Apple products are hugely popular and chic now. I use and look after Apple macs at work and they're much easier to manage than anything with Windows and very reliable. The UI is leagues above from anything from Microsoft. I don't use a tablet or mobile phone, but I find the macs are definitely worth the premium.

In contrast, I feel an Audi is just another car, a VW with a styling job. It doesn't work better than a VW or Skoda, or offer any appreciable gain for the premium, so to me they are overpriced (and these days the black ones also attract arrogant knobs who think they own the road). Hide the grille badge and it's just another car.

Returning to Vulpine, Nick's arguments remind me of Howies, a company who I like though they may seem a bit too earnest for some. Principles cost money.

But what would I get for Rapha's premium? I'm not really sure, and perhaps some people feel uneasy about what appears to be 'all style, no substance' marketing. We've been there before. A £240 jacket might be very good but is it £200 better than my Gill?

I don't look down at people who wear Rapha or Assos, or who ride a Colnago or a Dogma. Lucky them. I don't mind what they wear or ride, I care about what they say and do.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1906 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 23:35

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A thoughtful and intereseting article - authentic tone as well, which is so important in business these days.

Some interesting comments on the feasibility of UK manufacturing as well. I make it my business to seek out as much of my day-to-day wardrobe as possible from brands that manufacture in Britain. Sure, it often involves paying a premium and I'm lucky to be paid enough to be able to afford to vote with my wallet but I fully agree that it's worth the extra cash to get something authentic, something quality, something that meets my ethical criteria, something where I can be fairly sure that no sweatshops or maltreatment was involved.

I fully take Nick's point that the centre of excellence for technical clothing manufacture resides in the Far East these days and that just because something is made in China or Taiwan, doesn't automatically mean it's unethical. Just look at how much product pioneering ethical technical brands like Patagonia source from Chinese suppliers.

That said, I for one think there's a great opportunity for Vulpine to really lead on ethics/sustainability from a cycling perspective. I love many of Rapha's designs but as a professional sustainability consultant, it saddens me how little mention of the environment there is on Rapha or Assos or Castelli websites. One of the great appeals of cycling to me is its relatively light environmental impact and potential to improve air quality/reduce dependence on cars in our congested cities. I'm sure many other cyclists agree and yet there is so little mention of the environment on many cycling manufacturers' sites.

I'm not advocating that Vulpine turns into Shutt VR overnight, as despite their commendable approach to UK sourcing, IMO many of their designs are rubbish. I do think you could learn a lot from fashion brands like Albam, Oliver Spencer and Private White VC, though, who have carved out successful niches making really nice looking clothes in the UK where possible and charging a price that whilst a bit more than high street is still a long way south of the established high-end 'fashion' brands.

I can't imagine these start-up brands commission particularly huge production runs either but they seem to be doing well, judging by the number of shops opening in London anyway.

So by all means keep up the good work, keep sourcing your more technical garments from the Far East where they do this stuff best. Let's face it, most people are riding around on bike frames made in Taiwan for the same reason. But I would absolutely love to see some small-scale Vulpine collaborations with our historic home-grown manufactuers too, as the brand evolves.

What price some natty cycling socks in partnership with Pantharella? Some summer base layers with Sunspel? A hi-viz commuting bag made by Aiguille? Not to mention some cleated city riding brogues with the chaps up in Northampton - my ultimate cycling dream product. These are the kind of small-scale brand partnerships that have worked wonders for Albam etc.

I already like Vulpine and agree with many of the things Nick has to say. But bringing more homegrown product onto the market would make me love your brand and give you a real differentiator against the Raphas of this world, too.

All the best,
Tom

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
23rd March 2013 - 10:00

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Yennings wrote:
Not to mention some cleated city riding brogues with the chaps up in Northampton - my ultimate cycling dream product.

I would pay through the sodding nose for this.

posted by bashthebox [610 posts]
23rd March 2013 - 12:53

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This is the truth: most retailers add a 100% mark up. In big sporting brands, where a jacket is made with a couple of recycled coke bottles, I'm sure the profit is even higher. I think the most valuable assets for a brand are honesty, and quality as value. That, translates as truly caring for the customers. If a company is able to maintain that, you make customers for life.

posted by GuidoJCruz [1 posts]
23rd March 2013 - 18:54

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I'm probably lucky that I quite like dhb bibs, reading through the above Smile

My cycling is mostly commuting - somewhere around 130 miles per week. I do all of that in synthetics, because it's not that long a ride[1], and I get changed at work.

For weekend road bike rides, I tend to wear a Shutt VR merino jersey (the Velocast one from a little while ago) unless it's really hot. If I'm pottering into town, I have a vulpine T that I really like. The merino is slightly nicer in feel than the Shutt (but also slightly lighter weight, so not quite as warm) and I really like the cut. It's cycle specific enough to comfortable on a ride when you're working hard, and looks good enough to be ok for Summer afternoons or Evenings at the pub, or to not seem out of place if you're wandering about town[2].

I paid for the Shutt jersey (at the time, I think about £20 more than I would usually for a jersey) and was lucky enough to get the Vulpine t for doing a little bit of writing for their website.

If I was touring (which I've not done since 2007), I think I'd pack the Shutt and Vulpine tops, for less kit washing in the sink of an evening - and I'd go quite happily from bike to bar in the Vulpine T.

I don't think I'm the typical Vulpine customer portrayed in these comments - for example, I can't imagine ever owning one of the jackets (I don't have a set of wheels that costs that much, on any of my bikes). I ride a Brompton, a tourer (Surly Long Haul Trucker) and a geared Road Bike (Giant SCR2) - no fixies here! But I can vouch for the quality of the one piece I own - I've not tried another jersey or t that has as good a cut[3] (for me), or feels as nice. If I had the money, I'd spring for another without hesitation (I am, I have to say, rather tempted by the new colours).

For me, it seems a bit like my Carradice - there are other things that do what it does, (heck, some people ride with rucksacks, don't they?) but if you like the way the Carradice does them better, it's worth the premium. Similarly, my fondness for Carradice as a company, and what it represents affect the choice too.

However much I may be man at dhb/Endura, I can aspire to be chap at Vulpine.

[1] Unless it's roasting hot, I prefer merino for road bike rides of more than an hour, personally.
[2] Don't get too excited, I'm talking about Crewe (mostly).
[3] I do have a Decca East Flanders Road Championship jersey that's *very* flattering - it would turn heads at the pub for the wrong reasons though. Especially in East Flanders, as I'm not the East Flanders road champion.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
23rd March 2013 - 19:01

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Makers of posh urban wear would do well to realise that most commuting cyclists aren't shaped like pro racers and probably don't want to wear lycra. Indeed, chaps of my age and girth should not be allowed anywhere near skintight cycling gear.

So can we please have decent jackets and trousers that cater for the short fat gits among us?

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [134 posts]
24th March 2013 - 23:55

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bashthebox wrote:
Here's the thing that people who moan about Rapha, and Vulpine, and Assos, and all the rest don't quite get.
If you can't afford things, it's ok. I can't afford the latest 11 speed Di2 groupset, and I can't afford the delicious new top of the line Cervelo frame.
And that's ok.
I can't afford a mansion on the edge of Hampstead Heath, and I can't afford to drive around town in a big car, and that's ok too.
I can't, sadly, justify spending £250 on a rain jacket right now either, but that's ok, I can make do with what I have for now.

I've got a lovely bike that I bought second hand and lavished yet more time and money on, and I've picked up some lovely bits of Rapha in the sample sale, and at some point when I've got more disposable income I'll probably pick up a little bit more. I've got a lovely little house on a great little road and most sundays I get out with a few friends and go as fast as I can up a load of hills and that, my friends, is ok.

If you can't afford things, it doesn't matter. If you don't want to spend lots on your clothes, that doesn't matter either. Just enjoy the fact that stuff like this exists - that there's stuff at every price point - and enjoy a great hobby without moaning that some people are happy to spend more money on it.

Absolutely. Actually, when someone goes all anti-nice kit on me, I tend to ask them what their extravagance is. We all have them, if we can afford them. Nice wine? Good suits? Hi-fi? Either there is usually something on which they can justify spending cash (because they appreciate the difference between the good and the great), they can't afford it (which as you say, really is ok!), or I simply don't get a reply.

Simon E wrote:

Hmmm, not sure I get this. Apple products are hugely popular and chic now. I use and look after Apple macs at work and they're much easier to manage than anything with Windows and very reliable. The UI is leagues above from anything from Microsoft. I don't use a tablet or mobile phone, but I find the macs are definitely worth the premium.

Actually, while I take your point, you've highlighted an additional but valid aspect; subjectivity. I work in IT, and many individuals I know look down on Apple as 'style over substance', and it was this mentality I was referring to (should have made myself clearer). Apple gets much the same stick as Rapha/Vulpine among, for instance, the Linux crowd, who insist that there is no innovation, it's overpriced, it's made in sweatshops etc etc. Sounding familiar?! Smile

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
25th March 2013 - 11:59

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What I find hard to swallow is the notion that Vulpine is offering great value for money and then uses a UK discount online shop to sell its garments at half price.

Kinda pi$$es on the people that have already paid full price and can only pay full price on your own site.

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posted by Fixie Girl [115 posts]
25th March 2013 - 12:31

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aslongasicycle wrote:
The workforce is still here, but losing it's skills. The investment definitely isn't here. And factories are immensely expensive operations to create and maintain. I met an investor and told him if he created a UK factory that could work with the materials we use, we'd be there in a shot. But it takes a lot of brands to do that. There are bits and bobs, but not much. We are, generalising, a manufacturing country of artisans. I'd love to see us return to something close to where we were 100 years ago (without the soot).

Hi Nick - We've managed to it for 4 years and have been steadily expanding our UK manufacturing throughout that time.

Our Leicester factory for example has about 750 year's experience in garment manufacture.

Its not as hard or expensive to manufacture in the UK as people would have you believe, though it is not without its challenges...

All the best, Pete

Pete Bragg
Shutt Velo Rapide
www.shuttvr.com

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posted by Miggers [63 posts]
25th March 2013 - 12:51

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Hi Pete,
I was thinking of you guys when I typed that! But I didn't feel that those manufactures offered what we needed from our garments, especially as we make a different kind of gear. I would use UK in a shot if it meant I could get the same product or better as we sell now.

@FixieGirl, would be great if you could shoot me an email? info at vulpine dot cc

@Carl, have you checked out our sizing and fit? I agree, though in not quite the same language!

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
25th March 2013 - 16:41

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Hi Nick - I guessed, that's what prompt me to comment Smile .. Usual we steer clear of clothing posts.

Might be worth catching up at Bristol next month… We are breaking new ground with our UK lot, you never know..

All the best, Pete

Pete Bragg
Shutt Velo Rapide
www.shuttvr.com

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posted by Miggers [63 posts]
25th March 2013 - 18:19

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Have to say I have a Vulpine Softshell. And for the purpsoe it serves it is fantastic. I used to commute in a Altura jacket. However would I wear it on a club ride? No, I looked too daft. But I spend around 7hrs a week commuting so over a year a significant amount of time worthy of the cost IMO.

The cycling-specific features are great but they disappear when you want to blend (a bit) in at the boozer. It's been used pretty much every weekday for the past 5 months without fault. Lasted so far through the wash. And as far as 'cycling' jackets go it looks great. I now longer have have to look like a walking roadsign in my disgustingly too warm Altura jacket — which at £90 definitely isn't half(ish) as good as my Vulpine. It's too hot. Ill-fitting. And bloody Fugly. So there you have it. Vulpine was Value afterall.

But some hold value differently.

Buy once. Buy well.

Chapeau.

PS I also like the fact I'm constantly flipping a reflective bird to drivers — lovely design touch. Wink

posted by leejdavies [4 posts]
25th March 2013 - 19:19

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notfastenough wrote:
when someone goes all anti-nice kit on me, I tend to ask them what their extravagance is. We all have them, if we can afford them. Nice wine? Good suits? Hi-fi?

Some of us genuinely can't afford those things. My extravagance (and it really was!) was buying a 5 year old Giant TCR for racing so that I don't have to change the wheels/tyres, aerobars & pedals on my SCR every week during the season.

Perhaps those who moan about Rapha et al feel that, as cycling becomes "the new golf", cycle clothing brands appear to cater mainly for well-heeled Mamils and Audi drivers. I just find a £120 jersey or £220 jacket overpriced but people can buy what they want. TBH I'm hoping that as the choice widens and designs improve this will 'trickle down' to cheaper products too.

Quote:
I work in IT, and many individuals I know look down on Apple as 'style over substance', and it was this mentality I was referring to

Was in IT for 15 years - IBM AS/400s, Novell Netware, a bit of Unix blah blah blah, I'm not a complete neophyte or a macolyte (I do not own anything made by Apple). Linux geeks can think what they like but not many businesses would run a Hackintosh, and who sells Office 2011 for Linux? The hardware prices are steep but they last well and Windows 7 is just dreadful, OS X is just so much nicer. I don't like the sweatshop issues (and don't own anything made by Apple) but they use the same manufacturers as the others such as Foxconn. Is there such a thing as an 'ethical' technology company?

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posted by Simon E [1906 posts]
26th March 2013 - 22:29

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Fixie Girl wrote:
What I find hard to swallow is the notion that Vulpine is offering great value for money and then uses a UK discount online shop to sell its garments at half price.

Kinda pi$$es on the people that have already paid full price and can only pay full price on your own site.

Could not have put it better myself.

I've followed the growth of Vulpine and own a few of their garments. I like what they do and think their clothing is good. But to get the e-mail from said UK discount online shop about selling Vulpine stuff half price seemed like a bit of a slap in the face.

posted by TrimmDich [43 posts]
26th March 2013 - 22:50

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Hi @TrimmDich and @FixieGirl, this was an experiment to save having to sample sale the too-many XLs and XXLs I bought before we launched and knew how many we were going to sell.

I hope that's a fair reason for discounting...So that we can buy lots of nice new stock, as we've run out of the other sizes. We don't want to anything that annoys you, but I have to do something to make good my cockups!
Nick.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
28th March 2013 - 18:13

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Ha! Good article. Enjoyed it.

As previous poster accurately said "But some hold value differently".

More than happy to take a look at Vulpine when next my Lidl/DHB stuff bites the dust.

And probably more likely to be able to get Mrs B do a birthday shop at Vulpine than Lidl.....

horses, courses etc

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

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posted by daviddb [120 posts]
28th March 2013 - 18:20

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aslongasicycle wrote:
Hi Finbar, I'm no expert and can't give you figures (I had a ferret about and it seems pretty hard to find a comparison) but Merino is of course made by natural means and is biodegradeable. It need treating and cleaning, but at least its not plastic made from petroleum. The merino trade is heavily regulated, also.
This may help though certainly not detailed enough:
http://www.woolrevolution.com/virtues.html

A nice balanced and non-biased website there.

I do so love people spouting the environmental credentials of a product flown half the way around the earth to be treated then manufactured for use in a luxury hobby.

I like merino but I'm under no illusion that it's "good for the planet"

And fwiw not all plastic is made from petroleum and it's not quite as evil as people make out. Furthermore it pays my wages and allows me to buy expensive cycling apparel.

posted by TKF [5 posts]
29th March 2013 - 10:29

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aslongasicycle wrote:
Hi @TrimmDich and @FixieGirl, this was an experiment to save having to sample sale the too-many XLs and XXLs I bought before we launched and knew how many we were going to sell.

I hope that's a fair reason for discounting...So that we can buy lots of nice new stock, as we've run out of the other sizes. We don't want to anything that annoys you, but I have to do something to make good my cockups!
Nick.


Hi Nick

I would happily accept that if:

a) the sale was offered on your site as well - not hidden to protect your own online price
b) you'd mailed your customers first - I didn't get one?!
c) many of the products have all sizes especially the LS Jersey that I recently purchased for my partner
d) the company listed didn't take a commission/payment for listing

As a female cyclist in the US I was following your company with interest though I have to say I will not be buying again.

FG

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posted by Fixie Girl [115 posts]
30th March 2013 - 17:05

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I only gained my Vulpine garments via 'Schwag Bag' but the merino tee is hardly off my back and the jacket constantly gains positive comments.

antonio

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posted by antonio [931 posts]
7th April 2013 - 9:16

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