Our sneak peek the other week offered clues to some of the details; since then Mr Vulpine himself has been around for some impromptu modelling of his foxy new clothing range in the early March sunshine.
Ironically, for someone so determined to distance himself from Lycra-clad sporty cyclists or at least their clothing, Vulpine founder Nick Hussey is about as steeped in the lore of Ye Olde Club Cycling as they come, being a long-standing member of the Kingston Wheelers and doing all that classic time-trialling, road racing and club riding stuff. Maybe the memory of feeling foolish walking into a pub wearing tights is fresh in his mind. Anyway, knowing that the field is already pretty competitive with the likes of Santini, Castelli and most recently Rapha keeping it tough at the high end of racing-style kit, it's surely good sense to recognise the gap for folk who just want to ride to work, the pub "or a hot date" as the website puts it, comfortably but without feeling alienated from the rest of society.
What you have in the range launched today are the first five garments, mostly for men and with women's numbers following on. "Frankly," said Hussey when he came to see us last week in Bath, "the more women we asked about what was needed, the more opinions we got and the further away everything seemed. So we've made a start with what we feel comfortable with but knowing that the women's market for performance comfort is if anything more poorly served than for men." Watch this space and meanwhile...
The two fabrics most prominent are fine merino wool used in a simple loose base layer-cum-tee and a button jersey which is certainly cycling specific in the sense that it has rear pockets but not cut in a style that screams "Cyclist" And Epic Cotton - yes, it really is called that - where each individual cotton fibre is coated in a special version of silicon so that the breathability is unimpaired but the waterproofing is ramped up several notches. Plus it feels really nice. That's used on a proper rain jacket, a foldable soft-shell jacket and a lightweight gilet in a lurid lime green colour that functions as an all-purpose wind and showerproof attention grabber.
Overall characteristics are a good natural feel - tough but soft if that doesn't sound too anachronistic - with a host of little touches like magnetic catches, large zip pulls that should be easy to operate even with big gloves and an alloy carabiner inside the sleeve pocket of the rain jacket to secure your keys. All the zippers are YKK-brand with the stitching on our samples well detailed although in our experience first samples are often worse than actual production.
Epic Cotton Rain Jacket comes in this blue or charcoal. Texture is soft despite being highly waterproof.
Cuffs on the Rain Jacket fold back revealing warm knitted gaiter and reflective inner. £195
Storm covers over side pockets work in reverse for easy entry when riding, large tabs to grab even in gloves.
Magnetic catch on rear flap of Softshell Jacket, reflective tab for rear LED light. £160.
More magnetic catches on collar of Softshell Jacket, large zip tabs to grab.
Cotton Visibility Gilet is £100, red StormGuard tail folds away with a magnetic catch. Lots of reflective tape apart from the lime green colour which is a big fashion shade currently.