When faced with the decision of which brands to offer, we found that Castelli stands at the top of the podium for fit, features, and price point. Its quality and design harken back to a small tailor’s shop, in Milan, Italy and it’s innovation and commitment to ongoing technological developments is next to none.
Much like cycling greats, who rise up from domestiques to leaders of the peloton, Castelli climbed the podium, step-by-step to become one of the most well known cycling brands in the world.
In 1876, Vittore Gianni opened his tailor shop. With work, he was soon known for dressing dignitaries, sports teams, and even the occasional cyclist. A suit tailor, in 1935, Gianni hired Armando Castelli as a protégé. His desire to tailor cycling clothing soon out-shadowed Gianni’s love of a fine Italian suit and Castelli soon bought out the elder tailor.
Focusing in cycling apparel appeared to be a stellar move as Fausto Coppi selected Castelli as his personal tailor followed very soon by Rik Van Looy, Jacques Anquetil and many others. Soon Castelli was sponsoring entire teams, in and out of competition. Many other riders were even wearing his unbranded kits in competition.
Fast-forward to 1974 and Maurizio Castelli, Armando’s son Maurizio chooses to take the brand in a new unexplored direction and breaks apart to begin his own Castelli company, taking the scorpion as his logo.
Why the scorpion? There are rumors that it was meant as an ode to a mistress, but these have never been confirmed. Nevertheless, to this day, the scorpion stings riders with Castelli’s near perfect cut and fit.
True to his desire, Castelli begins to rethink traditional wool cycling wear and in 1977 is the first tailor to design shorts from Lycra. Providing stretch and the snug fit that traditional wool kits did not afford, his shorts proved to be a hit amongst the pro peloton. Castelli continued to innovate in the world of sport and became the first company to use sublimation. This process allowed not only Castelli, but also additional sponsors to place their logos on the clothing to provide visibility. Breaking every rule in the books, Castelli was the first to design cycling shorts that were not black! Believe it or not, black shorts were not only the norm, but also the rule up to the early 1980’s. The Hoonved Bottechia team showed up at the 1981 Giro in turquoise.
In 1995, Maurizio died while riding up the infamous Milan-San Remo climb of the Giro. Castelli moved onward in his name using advancing technology to create cycling gear with perfect fit, style, and design. Paola Pezzo, the gold medal winner in women’s mountain biking in Atlanta in 1996, helped Castelli become the first company to create women’s specific cycling gear. Rather than using smaller versions of the men’s patterns, kits were rethought and re-cut to fit women’s body proportions. Castelli does not embrace the “shrink and pink “ philosophy of so many companies. Details such as length of the shorts, placement of seams, pockets, and even the design of the chamois pad are specific to the female anatomy. And they are colorful and stylish with a color palette to please any personality.
Today, Castelli has a full line of cycling gear for every rider – from the novice to the seasoned pro. Rather than just taking one template and using it over and over for every jersey or short, Castelli looks at the qualities of each fabric used in every piece. The way a pattern is cut depends on how the fabric lays or stretches. Additionally Castelli designs for riders IN the riding position. Cycling clothes aren’t meant to be worn standing up; they need to provide coverage on the back while limiting folds and bulk across the front that are not only uncomfortable, but that also add drag.
A perfect example is the San Remo skin suit. This design marries the aerodynamic properties of a traditional skin suit with the ease of a jersey and shorts. It allows the user to unzip the jersey top during long, hot climbs, while maintaining the seamless profile necessary to gain maximum advantages on the flats.
The thought behind the development of the San Remo extends to all of Castelli’s gear – from its wicking undergarments to its cooling arm sleeves. Every piece is designed to work with the body to regulate body temperature and maximize comfort. For cool weather riding, the layers work in conjunction with each other to keep rain out while wicking away sweat keeping you dry and warm.
In addition to its tailored fit, Castelli has also developed some of the most technologically advanced fabrics in cycling wear. Prosecco was the fist wicking fabric treatment. Still in use today, it assists in regulating body temperature by wicking moisture and sweat from the surface of your skin and transporting to the exterior of the fabric where it evaporates. Additionally, the fabrics themselves assist with thermoregulation. Windstopper® X-Lite Plus, used in the lauded Gabba long sleeve jacket – recently renamed the Perfetto – keeps wind away from your core.
Castelli’s Nano Flex fabrics provide multi-way stretch that hugs the body in riding position. Available in several weights from a Nano Fleece, for cool-weather riding, to Nano Light, used to help vent heat from the Perfetto Jersey it is just one of the many custom designed and loomed fabrics that set Castelli apart from competitors.
In 1995, Castelli began a relationship with the pro peloton that has resulted in continual input from team riders. This feedback has led Castelli to the forefront of innovation and allowed them to continue to develop cycling kits that enable riders of all skill levels to enjoy the ride.
“I would never have been able to revolutionize cycling clothing if I hadn’t raced. It’s the only way to gain a true understanding of what’s involved.”