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'People are scared to look different': Wiggins chats to Cyclist as he launches 'Le Col by Wiggins' kit range

Joe Robinson
5 Jul 2018

Cyclist caught up with Wiggins and Yanto Barker to chat about their new kit collaboration, the development of tech and who will win the Tour

Not to be mistaken with Ben Sherman's 2018 Spring/Summer range, Bradley Wiggins and British cycling brand Le Col have today launched their own exclusive range 'Le Col by Wiggins'.

Inspired by cycling's history from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s, the new kit was the brainchild of 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins and long-time friend, former pro and founder of Le Col, Yanto Barker.

With both recognising the correlation between fashion and cycling, this latest kit selection attempts to bring a 'classic vintage aesthetic' to the world of performance cyclewear.

Available across three ranges offered by Le Col - HC, Pro and Sport - the collection will encompass everything from jerseys and bibshorts to socks and caps ranging in price from £15 to £185.

Besides the Tour victory, Hour Record and five Olympic gold medals, Wiggins is remembered for his own mod-inspired style that saw the whole of Britain going mad for Paul Weller inspired haircuts, long sideburns and RAF roundels back in 2012.

Cyclist took caught up with the two men behind this collection and also talked about the rapid development of cycling kit and, of course, who will win the Tour de France.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Yanto Barker Q&A

Cyclist: Hi Yanto, Hi Brad. So you are launching the 'Le Col by Wiggins' collection today. Talk us through the inspiration.

Bradley Wiggins: I think the starting point of the collection was the gold theme and the branding that comes from my Olympic past which is quite important to me and what I do.

How the jersey was constructed in terms of the design is that I took inspiration from jerseys I had seen in the 1970s and 1980s and then showed Yanto.

He then showed me colours, we would bounce back and forth with ideas before reaching what we are left with.

We had some ideas we didn’t like that much in the end so pulled away from the collection and then left ourselves with what we are releasing.

Yanto Barker: Le Col is in a fortunate position as a young company that we can still let Brad fully express himself in terms of design and we actually didn’t have to say no to anything in the process.

Brad’s got a great style and I expected it to be classy and that’s what we have produced.

Then on the technical aspect, there’s a reason behind everything with certain strengths and weaknesses to certain styles and performance aspects.

It was important that this range sat in with our existing products and sat with other brands in the market.

I think it’s coherent and consistent with our story and hopefully it stands up to scrutiny. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.

Cyc: Did you set yourselves rules as what the kit should look like?

BW: We differed on those, in a good way. We have met in the middle which is the beauty. It’s not Yanto coming to me and saying ‘this is what we are doing’.

It was an open process.

YB: I wouldn’t say rules but reasons. There is a reason behind everything we do. Equally if I’m told a good reason for it to be different then I will happily change things.

We thought it important that we didn’t set rules that said ‘if you wear it a particular way you are wearing it wrong’.

We have both benefited from cycling in our lives and this is us saying if you like cycling and style, this is for you. If you have a different sock height or sleeve length to the next person who really cares? Just enjoy the sport.

Cyc: Who did you see as inspiration when you were young?

BW: I think the one who gave it the most thought and sticks out in my mind is Mario Cipollini. He still does today. I like the ones who did it for practicality.

People like Sean Yates who wore shorter shorts and cut their sleeves to help them cool down. I like the deconstruction of jerseys.

Inventing your own technology because it wasn’t available. You had guys cutting out the armpits of their jerseys to make their jersey breath. I like that.

The early beginnings of people saying what they wanted.

YB: I look less at individuals but more the theme of an era. So back then jerseys were used much less on a commercial basis.

They didn’t have the sponsors or even manufacturing logos, they were hidden inside the jersey. So we tried that with the styles and patterns this collection has produced.

Cyc: When you both started in the early 2000s riders seemed to have individuality. Is that missing in today's peloton?

BW: You still have a few with the confidence to be themselves but ultimately society conforms and people are scared to look different in case they are criticised for it. We tried to be different and not conform to rules.

We didn’t want to go along with the snobbery that you get with wearing cycling clothes like sock length.

We have ridden bikes for 20 years and we wanted to use our experience for this kit.

YB: Cycling’s been through phases. We think that certain things are important but no, it’s not, it’s just a trend. Hopefully this collection will not come and go as a trend.

Cyc: From your time as professionals, what was the biggest development in kit?

BW: Wet weather wear has improved tenfold in the last decade.

YB: I trained in the UK doing back-to-back six hour rides on a Saturday and Sunday in the pouring rain. The type of winter kit we have now is light years ahead of where we were then.

BW: It’s such a short space of time, so much development in 10 years. Riders wanted something to race in all day, be able to sprint in, but then feel aerodynamic while also staying dry and you have that now.

YB: Go back to 2006/2007. The Tour de France leaders' jerseys didn’t fit riders, they were baggy. If you gave that to the guys today they would throw it in the bin because it’s just wasting energy.

But now we have the fabrics for every weather.

BW: Even looking back to the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine which I won, I remember the time trial was on Stage 3 and we were trying to plan how I wouldn’t take the yellow jersey until Stage 4 so I didn’t have to wear the off-the peg skinsuit.

I had to wear it anyway but it’s funny how desperately we tried to avoid it.

I also remember the Armstrong days when Nike sponsored the Tour and had the swift suit skinsuit in the early 2000s.

You got this massive aero advantage if you took the leader’s jersey and now it’s so different.

Cyc: The Tour de France starts on Saturday so come on, who's going to win?

YB: I hope its an open race because that's exciting, not knowing who will win, it’s boring otherwise.

Someone like Vincenzo Nibali is always such a strong contender but personally I’d like to see Romain Bardet win because he is a really cool guy.

BW: I’d like to see him win it too actually. He is a really cool guy and he is French and I think for French cycling they need someone to step up and take a home win, but if we are honest Chris Froome is favourite after that Giro d’Italia ride.

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