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"I feel like I'm wearing clothes made for a woman, and that changes everything" – introducing Jelenew, the haute-couture cycling brand empowering women

Jelenew aims to create cycling apparel that not only looks striking, but caters specifically to the needs of female cyclists. We speak to its co-founder to find out what makes Jelenew stand out from the crowd

When I suggest to Marion Clignet that she is not afraid to stand out from the crowd, the French cyclist laughs a little and agrees. The multiple world championship and Olympic medal winner is now the technical co-founder of Jelenew, a brand creating cycling clothing that also stands out from the crowd. And it's all designed specifically for women, by women.

"Earlier I was looking at old photos and found these ones from '91 when I won the Worlds, and it was just this big baggy jersey I was wearing. How do you want to look good in that?! But that's how they dressed us, even at the Women's tour at the time – we had these older jerseys in this horrifying material that wasn't even comfortable to wear," Clignet recalls.

Marion Clignet

With decades of experience in pro cycling, Clignet was quick to align with Jelenew's ambition to attract more women to cycle. Now the brand's technical co-founder, Clignet is proud to showcase Jelenew's approach to cycling kit which isn't just about comfort, but about empowerment too. 

"There are a lot of brands out there with beautiful kits, but they don't have the cut for women. Their men's kit is instead adapted for women," Clignet says.

Designed to adapt to the female silhouette

One of the first things when getting into cycling is finding the right clothing. Without good-quality padded shorts, the first two-hour ride will likely leave you a little sore, and you'll quickly realise that the loose cotton t-shirt isn't going to help keep chafing at bay. But finding the right fit, especially as a woman, can be difficult.

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That is what Jelenew aims to change by doing things differently. At the heart of the brand's whole apparel line, which caters for all levels from commuters to those racing at WorldTour level, lies CurveTec technology. Inspired by the organic curves of the female body, the system merges form and function, creating cycling apparel that is tailored to the contours of women's bodies. It simultaneously supports areas such as the chest, core and thighs, while remaining breathable at key areas that are prone to more sweating, all the while ensuring the fit stays comfortable in a cycling position.

"It was the first time I've ridden shorts that were made for a woman's body," says Clignet, summarising the feeling of wearing Jelenew's clothing for the first time. As a testament to the kit's comfort, she says she rode a full 100km without a single niggle.

CurveTec isn't just about comfort either; it's about empowerment and feeling good about how you look with every pedal stroke, regardless of your body shape or size. The wide size options ranging from 3XS to 4XL also mean that you can always find a size that fits you.

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Catering for women's specific needs

In a world where sports apparel – among other aspects of our everyday life – has long been dominated by male-centric designs and perspectives, it can be difficult for women to find clothing that caters for their specific needs. The anatomical differences that require different shapes and types of chamois padding in the shorts and tights are one thing, but other things are completely ignored by most other cycling apparel brands; take pregnancy, for example. 

Clignet explains further how Jelenew's CurveTec is so unique: "The stitching in the shorts, the jerseys, and the tights are different. It allows the women's muscle movement to expand and more freely while offering compression where needed.”

As a women-only brand, Jelenew can focus on those gaps in the cycling clothing market. Earlier this month, it released a pregnancy-friendly cycling range, featuring jerseys and padded bib shorts that feature space for the growing belly and more ventilation to address the rise in body temperature.

Jelenew's wider range caters for all levels, and three categories: Pro, Endurance and Lifestyle. The Lifestyle range features designs that are as much at home off the bike as on it, and don't necessarily incorporate padding for extended periods on the saddle.

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The Pro and Endurance lines have a full range of bib shorts, tights and jerseys, all featuring CurveTec, attractive visual design and Elastic Interface's women's specific chamois pads, which alleviate pressure and prevent chafing.

The power of looking good

The strikingly fashionable and flattering aesthetics of Jelenew's collections – and collaborations with designers from the likes of Chanel – are a testament to Jelenew's commitment to making women feel good about how they look, without forgetting about functionality. Every detail has been thought through, and in the design process, Jelenew uses real-size mannequins instead of computer models in taking the products from prototypes to the best possible finished product.

"The clothing feels different and because they feel good, they are inspired to get out more," Clignet says, reflecting on the feedback she has received from other women wearing Jelenew's clothing.

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Jelenew collaborates with a range of female athletes, and the brand hopes to further inspire more female athletes to shine through and push boundaries on the global stage. One of those is triathlete Raquel Henares, who competed at the 2023 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

"Competing alongside some of the strongest and most passionate women in the world is something I will never forget,” Henares says.  

“There were more than 2,000 participants, and during the race, I experienced something I had rarely felt before; solidarity and mutual support among competitors. In the past, rivalry among women was more pronounced, but this time, that rivalry transformed into a powerful bond.” 

Inspiring more women into cycling and active lifestyle

As we’ve already alluded to, not all of Jelenew's kit is about performing at the highest level, but also simply looking good while exercising. The brand has collaborated with designers like Christelle Kocher, Artistic Director at Maison Lemarie, Chanel, whose upcoming collection with Jelenew brings together haute couture and sportswear.

"It's all very relaxed sportswear, but it looks good. Cycling as a sport brings more possibilities to life and adds a new dimension to what exercise means," Clignet notes.  

"From cities to the countryside, we aim to provide products for women with different cycling needs and desires. We hope that cycling can become a medium to get out to the nature, and at the same time bring sportiness to contemporary women through this form of transportation that also once brought women freedom and expanded their life boundaries."

Jelenew is also actively seeking opportunities to inspire more women to take up the sport, including social rides aimed at empowering women to embrace cycling. The first one in France took place on International Women's Day, just a few days after our interview.

"The objective is for us to stay together and keep chatting. It'll be interesting to hear the women's feedback and get to ride together," Clignet says eagerly, continuing to say these rides are to be a regular part of the brand's outreach.

And when asked what message Clignet would like to forward to other women cyclists, she didn't hesitate: "Dream big. Where there's a will, there's a way. There are no limits, so why should you not ride a bike or swim across a channel – the sky's the limit!"

If you're interested in trying out Jelenew's range, head over to its website to browse through the full range of cycling apparel designed for women.

This content has been added by a member of the staff

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