Not only does cycling seem to be the hottest way to wheel around, its gear and clothing are developing alongside the cycle trend. Wearable electronics are hot and new products by Garmin and others are popping up. However, a lot of biking clothing seems caught in the spandex and neon trend. Luckily, a few entepreneurs have pulled ahead of the pack and Montreal company Marc de Storm cycling gear caught my eye with its Kickstarter campaign. The company’s clothing has anattractive, urban look matched by well-tested functionality.
I talked to Brendon Storm Chrus, one half of the team creating this gear. Chrus and his partner Marc are both cyclists and fitness enthusiasts. After changing their clothing several times a day after biking to and from work, the two realized that they needed clothing that could serve in more than one situation. “The concept behind it is something that you can wear going to work, at work, hanging out with friends, and it responds well to cycling. If you’re using cycling as your main form of transportation, you want clothing that is comfortable, but also looks good when you arrive at your destination,” Chrus says.
In order to achieve this, the team designed clothing with innovative fitting depending on the piece, such as more room in the shoulders, a narrow fit through the waist to prevent “Hulk Hoganing out the back” and pockets in convenient spaces, such as back pockets to hold a phone. The fabric chosen is also either a technical fabric or treated to be water resistant. For example, the sweater is a cotton fleece treated with water repellency. “You’ll still get wet if you swim in it, but if you get a quick rain shower or a splash, it’ll be okay.” The treatments also keep the fabric wrinkle proof (yay) and stain resistant. After all, Chrus says, “You might have to fix something on your bike. Maybe it’s just grime, but you won’t get stained.”
Chrus and Marc tested the shirts and the fabrics for over a year to see how well they would perform. “We tested it by using it ourselves and giving it to friends who put [each piece] through its paces,” he says. “We’re hard on our stuff cycling and we want to make sure it holds up.”
So far, Marc de Storm is offering four different products on its Kickstarter campaign, a t-shirt, the cotton-fleece sweater, the oxford shirt, and the denim shirt. Chrus lovingly talks about each piece. For example, he’s proud of how well the Oxford shirt is designed. “Its fit is really great for different body shapes, because it doesn’t look billowy in the back. Stocky friends used it, long armed people used it, everyone used it. I’ve not seen it on a person on whom it looks awkward.”
No need to rack your conscience about the manufacturing process either; all the products are designed, manufactured, and have their technical treatment done in Montreal in small runs. “It’s not like we’re using chemicals that are harmful or passing the buck to some developing country where their standards aren’t the same as Canada,” Chrus says.
“It’s been a two year process navigating the manufacturing,” Chrus explains. Marc studied clothing design in school and his family manufactures clothing in Barcelona for several generations, but working in Montreal required starting from scratch. Marc and Chrus began by knocking on doors in the Chabanel district of the city and found people who could get them started. “It’s amazing how much manufacturing of clothing exists in Montreal,” Storm explains. “My mom talked about it as something that used to happen in ancient times, but it’s still alive and well here. There’s a strong clothing manufacturing community here.”
In addition to the pieces on Kickstarter, the rest of Marc de Storm’s line is available at some boutiques in Toronto, London, and Gatineau. In Montreal, it’s selling at Boutique 363 on Beaubien. While currently the only things available are the tops, the company is planning to launch a number of other products in the fall, including different versions of button-up shirts, polo shirts, and some jackets. Pants are also in the works. Of course there have been requests for women’s clothing, but at the moment, as the company is just getting started, they’re focusing on the men’s line. “We know men’s clothing better than women’s clothing,” says Chrus. “We had to focus on one area first and then see if we can expand. We’ve had conversations about [expanding into a women’s line] a lot.”
Mark de Storm is a perfect fit for Montreal. Storm has seen the expansion of cycling in Montreal, especially over the last three years that he’s lived here. “There’s a lot of benefits for cycling besides the convenience – health, environment, sense of community. In anywhere I’ve traveled, I’ve not seen a more developed community around it than Montreal. There are excellent bike shops and good cycling producers (Guru Bicycles and Ergon Bike) based here.”
One final appealing thing about Mark de Storm is that it’s a premium product at a competitive price. “It’s not cheap because we’re using premium fabrics,” Chrus says. “There’s some brands out there with high end cycling clothing, selling similar stuff that is more for an executive. We’re not trying to become a high-fashion line that is selling you a name rather than the quality of the product. We’re designing for ourselves.”
Marc de Storm Kickstarter campaign can be found HERE. It continues until July 9.