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End of the road for Milltag as cycling clothing brand enters voluntary liquidation

The brand was known for its striking use of graphics and collaborations with figures from music, the arts and beyond

UK-based cycle clothing firm Milltag, known for its striking use of graphics and collaborations with figures from the world of music, the arts and beyond, has entered voluntary liquidation, documents filed at Companies House reveal.

The company appointed insolvency practitioner David Wilson of Leeds-based DFW Associates earlier this month to handle the voluntary winding-up of the business, agreed by its shareholders on 9 January. No specific reason was given for the company being liquidated.

Milltag was set up in west London in 2010 by graphic designers Pete Kelsey and Ed Cowburn, who in a blog post on the company’s website in December 2021 said it had started “as a side hustle … just two artistic cyclists who wanted some interesting kit for ourselves and likeminded folk.”

Unsurprisingly, given its co-founders’ background, from its very first offering in 2010, a limited edition jersey inspired by Bradley Wiggins’ fourth-place finish at the previous year’s Tour de France and emphasising his love of all things Mod, Milltag’s products typically carried a strong visual design element.

milltag-rear

> Milltag show off first limited edition jersey

As well as devising its own ranges, the company also engaged in a whole host of collaborations to produce cycling kit based on the graphics used by bands including The Pixies, Madness and Motörhead, and beyond music with partners as diverse as Transport for London and the artist Sir Peter Blake, and designed custom kit for a wide range of clubs, organisations and events.

Milltag also provided the leaders’ jerseys for the Tour de Yorkshire, something the founders were especially proud of, given that despite operating from London, their origins lie in the region, and it would subsequently work again with ASO on the classification jerseys for the Tour of Oman.

In 2013, it designed an eye-catching kit for Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome, which was at the time raising funds to try and save the historic south London venue, which had hosted bike racing since before the Tour de France was dreamt up – the campaign proving successful, with the track subsequently resurfaced and a new clubhouse opened.

> Herne Hill “Save The Velodrome” release new cycling kit to help raise funds.

In December 2021, Kelsey revealed in a blog post that he was stepping down from its day to day management but said he was confident over Milltag’s future prospects.

“It’s been eleven amazing years growing the Milltag cycling brand but now it’s time for me to concentrate on my design business which I’ve also been managing since 1998,” he wrote.

“The pandemic has given us all a little time to pause and reflect on where we are in our working lives and this feels like the right time to hand over the day to day running of the operation.

He wrote that “in common with many small operations, the past 18 months have proved challenging – the combined pressures of Brexit-related disruption and Covid restrictions have had a significant impact.

“Fortunately, the business has proved to be more than resilient and the order book is looking healthy,” he added. “I’m leaving safe in the knowledge Milltag will continue to thrive and prosper.”

As recently as last September, in a tweet accompanied by pictures of cycling jerseys it had designed for the Joy Division, Ride and Carter USM, Milltag said it was “Planning 2023 collaborations and looking for more bands to create cyclewear with.”

Sadly, there will be no more collaborations – but here's a look back at some of the more striking ones Milltag delivered in recent years, starting with kit inspired by the moquettes used on trains running on Transport for London’s Victoria and District tube lines.

Emphasising the brand’s roots in graphic design, there was also a partnership with Monotype for a jersey paying tribute to the iconic Helvetica typeface.

Milltag also teamed up with Simon Warren, author of the 100 Climbs series of books, for a jersey showcasing the road sign that adorns the covers of the series – and which can also regularly be spotted on TV being waved by the writer himself at bike races in the UK and abroad.

One high-profile collaboration was with the artist Sir Peter Blake – perhaps best known for his artwork for the 1967 Beatles LP, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

And finally, here’s a jersey based on West Ham United’s striking mid-1970s away kit.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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16 comments

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Dogless | 1 year ago
1 like

Shame. Always a slight disconnect for me between how good quality their kit is (I have some of their club stuff) and the 'uniqueness' (I'd say tackiness personally) of most of their designs. I'd often go on the site looking for plainer jerseys and there just didn't seem to be any new designs. I'm not sure who was actually buying the music stuff, but evidently there weren't enough of them. Would have been all over that TfL kit though!

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niceguysean | 1 year ago
0 likes

That's a real shame. Milltag stood out as being a brand that wasn't about jumping on the bandwagon to create products simply to sell to the growing number of cyclists, but had a very cool outlook with inventive designs, weren't following the crowd, and the graphics design was spot on. |
I have a number of their jerseys, the Milltag Tommy jersey
https://road.cc/content/review/38988-milltag-tommy-jersey , the International Brigade jersey, and some of my Le Cure jerseys were made by Milltag.

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schlepcycling | 1 year ago
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That's a pity, I wish I'd seen the TFL inspired designs earlier.

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peted76 | 1 year ago
2 likes

Sad news, I loved my militag kit and reguarly visited their site looking for kit to buy. They were one of a very few genuinely cool cycling brands out there.

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Kendalred | 1 year ago
1 like

Yes, a shame. My better half bought me the Unknown Pleasures jersey and casquette in December - the jersey to be stashed for April birthday so there will be a tinge of sadness when I finally get to see it.

I also have the Peter Blake jersey as per the Tweet above, and a rather striking jersey based on Factory records/Hacienda that's one of my favourites for summer.

Oh, and with my pedants head on road.cc, it's 'Pixies', not 'The Pixies'. I'll get me coat...

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themuffle | 1 year ago
2 likes

This is a real shame, I hate to see a British brand go under, but to be honest how big is the market for Carter USM, Madness, West Ham etc jerseys?

I wear Maap clothing now as they have modern colours and generally plain jerseys and shorts. Rapha are similar. Couldn't they have just followed this model? Just look at the big players and copy them but obviously add their own touch.

The whole cycling clothing thing annoys the hell out of me anyway - £165 for a jersey on the Maap site now - What on earth?

I'm probably going to get roasted now but just my thoughts....

 

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Legin replied to themuffle | 1 year ago
1 like

One of the best bits about being a club member is we have Bioracer supply the kit, and that is outstanding stuff at reasonable prices.

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Secret_squirrel replied to themuffle | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think its horses for courses and cycle clothes wearing is a broad church.

Most of my stuff is low-ish end Galibier stuff with Stolen Goat at the higher end.

I think I have 2 pieces over £100.  A pair of Rapha commuter jeans which are absolutely awesome as "normal jeans" and get worn every other week.  A secondhand from eBay Shakedry which gets used once in a blue moon but is equally awesome in its own way.

I personally mostly waste my own cash on tech and bits for the bike - but each to their own.

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stonojnr replied to themuffle | 1 year ago
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themuffle wrote:

This is a real shame, I hate to see a British brand go under, but to be honest how big is the market for Carter USM, Madness, West Ham etc jerseys?

 

The only living boy in New Cross ?

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essexian replied to stonojnr | 1 year ago
1 like

I have a 101 Damnations top hanging above my turbo to remind me that I need to lose weight before I can actually wear it.*

Lovely jersey. Shame about the company. 

 

* Yes, I am a bit of a Jon Beast RIP. 

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galibiervelo | 1 year ago
0 likes

Very sad to see. We Loved their passion.

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Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

Sad to see another good UK cycling kit brand disappear  2

I think they were one of the first "alternate" (ie not your usual suspects) kit brands in cycling doing something different back in 2010-11 ish I sort of adopted, they made kit for Laura Kenny, both national road race jersey and track world champion jersey when she rode for OnTheDrops. Did the Tour De Yorkshire jerseys, and lots of other great designs the unofficial Dunwich Dynamo and others too many to mention really.

I thought in recent years theyd kind of stepped back from full on selling kit as a brand to this more even smaller scale custom/one off pre-order type brand, they did club kits and I think IslingtonCC used them, and these band collabs which seemed popular. Id always assumed that was maybe more predictable or sustainable enough to keep them going, but I guess in the end not.

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Andski808 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Sorry to hear this. I ordered the Joy Division jersey back in October and it arrived in December as planned, looks and fits great. They must have been having real problems at the time so to their credit that they completed the order. I hope everyone involved finds new jobs/projects. 

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Awavey replied to Andski808 | 1 year ago
1 like

yes sorry to hear another good cycling kit brand has gone, but good to hear your pre-order had come through as I was wondering if theyd get fulfilled as there had been a few lately (Jesus Jones was the last I remember seeing) and I remember it took ages to get the District line stuff, Id already got the Joy Division jersey from when they first did it so hadnt jumped in again this time.

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Legin | 1 year ago
1 like

That's a pity, it's good kit, I've got the West Ham home and away shirts. Kenny Van Vlaminck will be devastated, who will supply his Top Bonk Team kit now?

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Steve K replied to Legin | 1 year ago
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Legin wrote:

That's a pity, it's good kit, I've got the West Ham home and away shirts. Kenny Van Vlaminck will be devastated, who will supply his Top Bonk Team kit now?

Well, there's no accounting for taste 😉 I very much regret not buying one or both of their Wedding Present or Carter USM kits. I just (thought) I couldn't justify the expense at the time.

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