May 19, 2017

DESIGN INSPIRATION

  • Vintage Belgian wool cycling jersey
  • Typographic inspiration books
  • Stripes on 1950s American surf boards
  • Vintage denim and skater style

Spring is well under way, with some decent weather sporadically cheering up our rides. Whilst our new Spring / Summer range has only been available for a few weeks, you might be surprised to know that designs for 2018 are almost complete. The timelines involved with fashion and cycling apparel are tight, even though everything starts so far in advance. We thought we’d share a little insight into our design team’s processes and how a collection forms.

the whole Sportswear/Fashion crossover is huge at the moment, it’s having it’s turn in the fashion cycle again.

Typically each new season has a theme and this becomes the starting point for the collection. The SS2017 range was the first to feature our new, refreshed identity so product designer Nick Classick took the opportunity to create a collection that celebrated that.

As the first release with the new logo, typeface and refined bowler hat we took the opportunity to establish an essential core line within Chapeau!. The Tempo Wave Stripe was inspired by the reworked Chapeau! wordmarque, designed by Conductor. Inspired a little by vintage cycling kit and national team strips but using contemporary colourways.

We have an appreciation of the history of cycling as a sport and our love for that heritage can serve as inspiration — but not just to re-interpret for the modern day. It might be a cuff stripe detail or a graphic element from the chest that sparks an idea which we’ll play with and refine, reshape and repurpose. In a crowded marketplace there’s a need to look at competitors too; “it would be crazy not to check” says Nick, “if anything comes close to our competitors, then I make a conscious effort to take it away completely”. It’s not a case of copying or being copied, just that sometimes designers come to the same conclusions.

As a designer who previously worked for fashion brands such as Paul Smith, Nick brings a wealth of experience and expertise from that field. “I definitely look into trends, current and past for inspiration” says Nick “the whole Sportswear/Fashion crossover is huge at the moment, it’s having it’s turn in the fashion cycle again.” In fact Nick prefers to look to fashion rather than cycling for inspiration, particularly in unexpected places such as vintage denim, skate wear or street style — “I love to see how they use colour, I’ve found some great examples of colour combinations, unusual stripes and patterns that all transfer really well in another context.”

It’s not just fashion and cycling that serve as reference points though, with a love of graphic design and book / poster design Nick often delves into his reference library to seek out interesting uses of typography and colour. Indirectly this has lead to other avenues such as surfboard designs and colour blocking; “I don’t place any restrictions myself, all disciplines of design are interesting to me, fashion, interiors, graphic design, product design… They’re a starting point, the real work comes after that.”

Fashion designer Nigel Cabourn said: "I’ve got one hell of a collection of fabrics. Fabrics are so key for a designer, because that gives you your handwriting." Nick is very much in agreement, but in cycling apparel we don’t have the luxury of a wide range of fabrics to choose from. We offer the best fabric choices available in each price range, but we’re always looking for new substrates. Our new Club style is possibly our most pro-race kit available within Chapeau! The Etape now has a much improved fabric quality, it’s yarn dyed to our own specific Pantone choice and sublimate printed on the cuff and double side printed on the zip guard. These are techniques we’ve perfected over time to get the best quality without making each garment ridiculously expensive. That’s a really important part of the design process.

We’re really proud of the new collection and just as excited by next year’s. Managing Director of Chapeau! Will Miles says “It’s funny to talk about next year, even though we’re hard at work with it — it puts a smile on our face to be able to ride in the clothes we design and make”. It’s a sentiment shared by the whole team at Chapeau! HQ “I don’t know whether everyone realises that; we’re cyclists — its why we started Chapeau! We get to wear the clothes we wished were available.”

shop the new collection