Three Hot Trends in Cycling Apparel

Written by Mariellen Auer

Why am I an expert? Why am I even commenting on this? I was there when mountain biking started, I designed jerseys no one had ever seen before. I even designed the first Olympic Mountain bike gear. I have seen the trends throughout the years come and go.

I started my cycling apparel design career working for Gita Sporting Goods or more commonly known brand name, Giordana. The early 90’s saw the explosion of mountain biking. It was an exciting, new and rising sport in USA. I had purchased one of my first mountain bikes and started competing in races in Michigan. It didn’t take long for me, a former college volleyball athlete, to love THE RIDE. You see, in volleyball you always have to have a partner, or other team members in order to play. But biking, I just needed a good trail or even my neighborhood streets in Kalamazoo, Michigan and I was quickly on my way to cycling euphoria which in turn took place of my daily workout routine. The freedom that biking gave me from working out at the gym or even playing other team sports, was like no other. I didn’t need to organize a thing or call anyone. I just hopped on my bike and discovered a new trail. Although I have had some major crashes, concussions, fractured tail bone and the like, it’s still my favorite sport and I will keep riding until my legs tell me no.

I realized that my love for cycling and my graphic design talent could be combined to actually make a career. I was fortunate enough to be hired by Giordana in 1996 and moved to Charlotte, NC when cycling was mainly a road bike sport. Giordana didn’t really know how to design cycling jerseys for this new mountain bike category. They needed so Giordana’s biggest competitor was Pearl Izumi. They too were starting to figure out that designing mountain bike jerseys was different than road. It was a different kind of sport all together–different rider and even different price points. No more splashy neon colors, geometric shapes or even clean lines. Mountain bikers wanted browns, greens, earth tones and god forbid if you put anything that caught your attention on it. Most drove SUV’s, trucks and camped out when they hit the trails. I was one of those. I lived and breathed cycling. I met several people, that even today I’m still friends with. You just can’t top a hearty meal and camping out at the end of the day full of riding and discovering new trail heads. Sitting around a campfire with other fellow cyclists sharing your day’s stories about a new trailhead, wipe outs and where you are going to ride tomorrow.

That year, the Olympics which was inAtlanta (only 4 hours away from where I worked) was having their first ever mountain bike events. Now that is a whole other story, but working on the new apparel for them and then seeing it out on the trail, was a feeling I won’t ever forget.

In 2001, I started my own company, Auer Agency and a few years ago that has evolved in Custom Apparel Source based on cycling apparel design and starting lines for others. Even to this day, in fact yesterday, I saw 2 people wearing my jerseys on the road around my house. I love that someone is wearing something I designed, that I poured my heart into. Who do I design for? Teams raising money for cancer, pro teams, and people starting their own lines because of their love for the sport. And since I’ve been at this long enough, I think I get to comment. I’m keeping this very simple, but I also wanted to tell my story. How jumping on a bike, changed my life, my career and everything that makes me, well, me.


Trends in Cycling Apparel

1- Back to bold colors. Everyone knows that riding on the road is dangerous, using bright colors and pushing the limits of printing has become a new norm. Neon is back. Yup I said it.

2- Get to know the team you are designing for. Their cause, type of members, what have they designed the last few years, putting personality and something different in the design is key. What will make them stand out at the next fundraising event? I also like to offer t-shirts or hoodies to supplement their fundraising.

3- Small runs and quick turnaround times. Even though people know about the event months prior, getting the design together is the hardest part. I have been working with different manufactures and can say now that I can turn an order around in less than 4 weeks. This isn’t ideal, but it is doable. Small reorders of 6 is now possible with digital printing.