While working on the review of the Natural Stripe Jersey I was able to catch up with the two guys behind the company Lumiere Cycling for a Q&A about their brand, approach, and future. This brand spotlight is something new that focuses on the people behind the design.
Here is the Q&A spotlight on Matt & Joe, the two cyclists behind Lumiere Cycling.
Q: Matt & Joe, why do you think Australia is so big on cycling apparel right now?
A: Australia has a really active cycling culture and community and is full of active and motivated people who are willing to put themselves out there. There are so many smaller brands coming out of Australia and especially Melbourne that we think others just say ‘why not?’, and they give it a go.
Q: Do either of you have an apparel design background?
A: Both of us have always been passionate about apparel design and we have both been riding for long enough to know what works and what doesn't. We’ve made sure that we are aligned with the best technical fabric producers and manufacturers in the industry and we use their research and knowledge and focus our energy towards the design, cut and durability. A kit can look great on a hanger, but in real world conditions might fall short of riders expectations. We are aiming to get the essentials right from the get go; fit, form and function.
Q: Why did you get into the business of making cycling apparel?
A: It began as a passion project for us, we felt that we could offer something a little different from what was currently in the market. So far the response has been great. We are currently working on our second collection and based on the initial response to The Botanicals Collection we believe the response is going to continue to build as we release more collections and solidify our design aesthetic and the Lumiere fit.
Q: What do you think makes you stand out from the noise in market?
A: It’s the time that we are willing to invest in getting the fit, cut and designs of our kits right. We believe that the attention to detail becomes evident as soon as a customer wears something that we have produced.
Q: Who would you say has inspired your business philosophy?
A: Our philosophy has always been to push the envelope with whatever we are currently working on, we strive to produce garments as close to perfect as possible. We won’t release anything that we are not 100% happy with. If a colour doesn't work, we re-print it, if a fabric falls short of our expectations, we re-sample it. We repeat this process until it's exactly how we want it. Beyond this we are just trying to keep it simple and keep creating garments that push the boundaries, both from a design and performance perspective.
Q: How do you approach testing & development? Do you test fabric and pattern variations / combos?
A: We start out by selecting our main fabrics and work from there. During testing we use a number of high end fabrics from Italy and Switzerland in different pattern arrangements to try and identify the best mix of form and function. The fabrics used in our current collection are the same as what is currently being used by many of the pro teams riding in grand tours such as the Tour de France.
We place a lot of importance on the feel of the fabric and how breathable and light it is when being worn. Most people are pleasantly surprised at how light weight our jerseys are and how much stretch there is in the fabrics. When our kits are being worn we want it to almost feel like a second skin and not be restrictive at all.
Our signature cut has taken nearly a full year to refine. We won’t say it will be in this form forever, we are constantly looking to improve the cut and fit of our garments, but for right now, the market feedback we have received is really positive.
Q: Where are your kits designed? graphic? pattern?
A: Aesthetically, our kits are designed in house. Our designer is not your typical graphic designer. She mastered in interior design, probably something that gives us a different edge. She doesn't look at it from a cycling perspective, but more from an overall design/concept to curate the collections we have now.
We work with a pattern designer and tailor to make refinements to the cut, fit and durability of our garments. We are constantly testing different stitching methods and fabric types to see what will give the best result to our customers.
Q: How long is your product development cycle?
A: Depending on the type of garment, generally between 8-12 months, sometimes quicker if we are using familiar fabrics and only changing smaller details. The ideal testing includes a 4 seasons test, riding it through all the seasons to see how it holds up. We ride and wash every test garment a minimum of 40 times to ensure the fabrics don’t overstretch, fade or loose shape, we want everything we produce to meet the needs of the most demanding cyclists.
Q: So what’s next for Lumiere?
A: We are currently working on our next collection due for a Spring (USA) release or Autumn (AUS) release in 2016. That way we can keep everyone happy and hopefully enjoy the riding before winter sets in. We are also testing a number of other products and experimenting with some really new and innovative fabrics that are completely new within the cycling market. We want to change the way the people use and view cycling apparel, so we are really trying to push the boundaries in our testing to see if some of these new fabrics and cuts can be incorporated into our collections in the future. We don’t expect it all to work but we hope that we can discover some new things and bring them to everyone in the future!