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Yanto Barker explains how Le Col develops its kit

Cyclist magazine
3 May 2018

Le Col founder Yanto Barker talks through his processes when it comes to developing kit

Retired professional cyclist Yanto Barker knows a thing or two about what makes good kit having spent over 20,000 hours in the saddle racing on the domestic and Continental circuits.

When he turned his attention to an attempt to produce the best cycling kit available under the brand name Le Col, he set out to ensure that no detail would be overlooked.

Over the past decade, Barker has dedicated his time to building kit - obsessing and poring over every detail - so the finished product is something he’s proud to stand behind. His motto - ‘Back Yourself’.

Le Col Spring/Summer

Ever wondered what goes into producing top quality cycling garments? We asked Barker exactly how he went about designing and manufacturing the new Le Col Spring/Summer range.

'Every product at Le Col starts with a motivation,' Barker sid. 'Whether it's to improve something we currently make, or to develop an entirely new product, I always build the product up in my mind when I’m out riding.

'I meticulously specify every technical feature, running through how the cut should feel and what materials will be optimal,' he continued.

'Then, once I have ordered the materials I think will work, I ask the factory in Italy to develop prototypes in various iterations and designs.

'Le Col has long been a pioneer of using new materials in cycling; trademarked fabrics like eVent, WindTex, Schoeller.

'Other well-known brands are only now coming out with products using these technologies. This reaffirms not only that Le Col is on the right track, keeping up with technological developments but also that the brand is well ahead of the curve when it comes to setting a new standard for product development,' he added, with confidence.

'Every product goes through hundreds of hours of rigorous testing in the saddle. I know what you’re thinking, "as if anyone needed an excuse to get out and ride their bike!"

'But there’s more to it than just riding and experimenting with the kit.'

How Le Col develops its kit, as explained by Yanto Barker

1. Tested by the pro

There’s an incredible amount of kit choice out there, and nowadays the standard is considerably higher than it was when I first started Le Col.

Using friends in the pro-peloton and former professional cyclists, I’ve built one of the widest testing teams in cycling. Le Col provides kit to Team Wiggins and Storey Racing - two teams competing at a high level and both formed by highly successful cyclists notorious for their attention to detail.

This means I’m constantly receiving feedback on sizes, cuts, technical specifications, materials as well as completely new ideas for products and kit.

Couple this with the direct relationship we have with our factory in Italy (which I bought in 2014) and it leads to a development process that’s focused on constantly improving.

2. Prototypes

Whenever Le Col makes a piece of clothing, it either uses one fabric all over the garment, or a number of materials and applies to a product model to determine fit, sizing, technical performance.

However, every model is specific to the fabric used. For example, if any aspect of a garment is changed, then there'd be a need to represent this in the model used, in order to retain the fit and sizing people are expecting.

For this reason, it’s essential to try out and sample any changes. It also helps with understanding the characteristics of a garment.

Weight, warmth and stretch are all factors that need to be in balance when perfecting Le Col's cycle clothing.

3. Technical aspects

The technical aspects of cycling clothing are all details we need to design appropriately. Whether it's size and position of pockets, reflective details, zip size, zip pullers, logo application or gripper width, height and weight - all these details need to function and perform to preset standards.

It can be very easy to distort these elements and compromise as you make developments. We make sure this never happens.

4. Meticulous attention to detail

Product development is an ever-moving process that requires real attention to detail. Without this, within a couple of seasons, a brand could lose their fit and the quality of care that customers expect.

It’s something some cycling brands do better than others, and not all designers actually ride their bikes. This is why team sponsorship in professional cycling is so important.

Pro cyclists can be some of the most single-minded people out there, often obsessing about every aspect of their life, not just their kit, so I take every piece of advice from the teams we work with seriously, incorporating it in to prototypes and development.

They’re the ones riding day in, day out, pushing the kit to the edge of their capabilities.

5. Styling & design inspirations

The new Le Col range has been designed with attention to detail, to assure the highest functional quality of products that we produce.

We use a combination of details from reflective and protective material to the most luxurious performance fabrics in order create the unique blend of quality Le Col has become known for.

Styling and design inspiration is a careful process beginning with market and brand analysis plus previous seasons’ sales data.

Using this process, we get a good picture of our most popular products, which colours, patterns and styles worked, and then look to evolve that into something better.

Along with developing the product ideas, as the company owner, it is my job to make sure that Le Col is always forward thinking and at the sharp end of cycle clothing development.

We are not scared to try something new or even break ground while retaining classy and classic looks.

Check out Le Col’s new Spring/Summer 2018 collection:

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