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Spokesman’s Nathan Gibbons on starting a British clothing brand + 4 highlights from the range

Spokesman's Nathan Gibbons on starting a clothing brand plus 4 highlights from the range

How do you start a new cycle clothing brand? Years of experience in the fashion industry with leading brands and a successful Kickstarter campaign worked for Spokesman's Nathan Gibbons. 

Spokesman founder.jpg

Spokesman Clothing is one of the newest cycle clothing brands in the UK. The company launched following a Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2014 when, frustrated at the high prices charged by lots of cycling brands, founder Nathan Gibbons decided to develop his own clothing range that focused on quality but without the premium price tags.

The company is based in Leeds and has in a very short space of time built up a large collection of clothing, available in a growing number of bike shops, especially in the Yorkshire area. Spokesman had just signed up with CycleSurgery when we spoke which will increase its availability. 

We caught up with founder Nathan to talk about what has been involved in starting his own cycle clothing business, as well as taking a first look at some of his key products.  We’ve also got some of the clothing in for review.

What inspired you to start Spokesman?

I have always been a cyclist, and have always worked in clothing design and production. I became obsessed with creating my own cycling clothing brand

What is unique about Spokesman clothing?  

Having a foundation in the clothing industry seems to be unique, our garments fit perfectly because I am a trained pattern cutter. Most start-ups just pick from the factory, off-the-shelf styles… and add sublimation

Spokesman has its own unique brand Identity, and we make original product.Take the Climbers jersey, the Top ten Climbs print on the inside is an original idea. It engages our customer as most cyclists have attempted one of those climbs. Our handwriting and the way we present the brand through our website is unique, it’s not the usual hackneyed pictures of a guy riding up the Stelvio Pass.

We are looking at Spokesman for the longterm,we have strong financial foundations and have invested in the right team.

What sets Spokesman apart?

We protect the retail price and we don't allow discounting. When a customer walks into an IBD (independent bicycle dealer), he can't go on his phone and view the ghost jacket at six different discounted price points. This has given us a really loyal following from the IBD’s, and we have opened 30 accounts in the first 12 months of trading

I have a lot of expertise in retailing clothing and we transfer this to the IBD’s through our stand-out Point of Sale and great staff training. We also have Demo Days, where we educate all the customers about the product. This has been a great success, the customers love to meet the guys behind it.

How would you define the Spokesman customer?

Our customer is a serious cyclist, who doesn’t take himself too seriously and who doesn't want to look like a Castelli Clone. 

Where do you get the fabrics from?

Because the brand has integrity, we have forged relationships with fabric brands  like eVent, Polartec, and Elastic interface whom we share similar brand values.

Where does the design inspiration come from?

I am inspired by cycling in the Yorkshire Dales, where it can be pouring with rain one minute and in the next valley bright sunshine. This provides great testing for the kit.

What challenges have you faced in setting up a cycle clothing company?

The first 9 months were hell. The factories were not interested in working with us and I couldn't get an appointment with a shop. Pedalsport and Green Jersey are two local shops that gave us a break and then it snowballed from there.

You’re stocked in CycleSurgery now, that must be a big confidence boost?

It is, the buying team took a great leap of faith buying an unknown brand, but it has been a great success in London,

Which garment are you most proud of?

Our Ghost jacket is a technical masterpiece, the fabric is ultra light like a second skin, yet fantastically breathable, waterproof and windproof.

What clothing developments do you have in the pipeline?

Each product must tick three boxes, technical innovation, look cool and tell a story, so for winter we have a windproof cross jersey with a waterproof back panel, to protect against the splash from the back wheel. It also has a print of the contours of the Dalby Forest.

We also have a winter jacket which uses the same membrane as the Ghost jacket but it’s a 2-layer fabric, and in the storm flap we have a collage of the best bikes from the sixties to the present day. We are also launching a mountain bike range  

What does the future hold? 

We are setting up distribution in Europe, the States and Australia, and ultimately to sponsor an international team

Four highlights from the Spokesman range

Let's take a little look at some of the highlights of the Spokesman clothing range. As mentioned already, we’ve got some of the clothing in for review so watch out for those in the coming weeks. 

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The Climbers Jersey (£80) is made from three fabrics to provide an aerodynamic fit, a performance stretch fabric fro the shoulders and back panels, a breathable mesh front panel, and mesh side sections. There are three pockets, generous reflective pixel fabric for visibility, and the jersey also offers a high UPV protection.

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The Ghost Jacket (£155) is designed to offer a race cut, so it’s fitted and aerodynamic, and is constructed from a Stormshield fabric which is windproof and water resistant. There’s a dropped tail for extra rain protection, front zipped vents, three rear pockets plus one zipped pocket, and reflective details. 

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These Team Shorts (£100) have the very neat detail of a thick band of reflective glass particle material on the right leg. The shorts are made from a Power Lycra with a Cytech Deluxe padded insert, flat lock stitching, radio pocket and a mesh back panel.

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The Pac Gilet (£80) should be ideal for the spring, with the 4-way stretch windproof and water resistant fabric dealing with any unexpected showers, and it can be packed away into a jersey pocket. As is clear from the other items in the Spokesman clothing range, there’s a real focus on adding reflective material without ruining the styling. 

www.spokesmanclothing.com

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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