But have you ever paused to consider the minds behind those vibrant outfits worn by the athletes?
This article peels back the layers of lycra to explore the designers behind the jerseys – their inspirations, their triumphs, and their commitment to fusing performance and style.
Journey with us through a sartorial exploration of cycling fashion, from its woolen beginnings to the sleek high-tech kits of today.
We’ll be covering:
- Historical Development Of Cycling Fashion
- Spotlight On Iconic Tour De France Kits
- The Designers Behind The 2023 Tour De France Team Kits
- Official 2023 Tour de France Jerseys
Get ready to embark on a style ride you won’t forget!
Historical Development Of Cycling Fashion
During the dawn of professional cycling, riders focused more on comfort and practicality rather than style.
The early cycling attire was anything but glamorous, with cyclists often seen in heavy woolen jerseys and baggy trousers.
The choice of wool wasn’t accidental – it was warm in cool weather, breathable in heat, and even retained some warmth when wet, which was a practical solution for the diverse and often unpredictable weather conditions cyclists encountered.
From National Kits to Sponsored Kits
As professional cycling grew in popularity, the opportunity to attract sponsorship led to a sea change in cycling kit design.
Instead of the plain, single-color jerseys, the 1950s and 1960s saw the introduction of logos and an explosion of color on the jerseys, marking the transition from national team kits to sponsored team kits.
This wasn’t merely an aesthetic decision, it also marked the expansion of the sportswear industry into the world of cycling, with sponsors keen to maximize their visibility in these high-profile events.
The mid to late 20th century witnessed rapid advancements in materials science.
Designers began to experiment with synthetic fabrics, which were lighter, more breathable, and dried quicker than wool.
The change in materials also allowed for an increased variety in design.
The new synthetic fabrics could be produced in a vast array of colors and took print better than wool, allowing for more complex and attractive designs.
These jerseys began to take on the symbolic and team-identifying role they have today.
From those humble beginnings, we’ve arrived at the modern era of cycling apparel, with high-tech, form-fitting synthetic jerseys designed to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.
Today’s kits are lightweight, offer UV protection, and even have antibacterial properties.
They incorporate team colors, sponsor logos, and intricate designs, all while maintaining an emphasis on performance.
Thus, what we see on our screens during every race is the result of over a century of evolution in design, material science, and marketing.
Spotlight On Iconic Tour De France Kits
Let’s take a ride through time and examine the evolution of the iconic Tour de France kits, starting from the mid-20th century.
The St Raphael team kit, featuring a vibrant red and blue design, was worn by the inimitable Jacques Anquetil.
The classic yellow and purple of Team Mercier BP, led by Raymond Poulidor.
In the late 60s and throughout the 70s, the Molteni team kit, made famous by Eddy Merckx, was all the rage. The burnt orange jersey, with its uncomplicated black and white lettering, symbolized one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
The Peugeot team’s kit came next, with its unique black and white checkerboard pattern.
This design became synonymous with the team in the late 70s and remained unchanged for over two decades.
Then came one of the most memorable kits in the cycling world, the Brooklyn team kit.
The bright red and blue design, with the iconic chewing gum logo, was worn by cycling great Roger De Vlaeminck in the mid-70s.
La Vie Claire
Moving into the 80s, we were graced with the La Vie Claire team’s Mondrian-inspired kit.
The primary color geometric pattern was an avant-garde design that set a new standard for cycling kits.
In the late 80s and throughout the 90s, the Banesto team, led by Miguel Indurain, gave us a straightforward blue and white design that became a symbol of the five-time Tour de France winner.
Next in line is the Mercatone Uno kit, adorned by Marco Pantani in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The dominant yellow design, combined with red and white accents, left a lasting impression.
The Designers Behind The 2023 Tour de France Team Kits
This year, 16 designers have taken center stage, outfitting teams with kits that are as individual as the riders themselves.
Nalini, established in 1964 in Italy, has been at the heart of the cycling world for over five decades.
Over the years, they have sponsored several teams, including the legendary Bianchi team in the 1990s, and more recently, the Movistar team.
In 2023, they are designing kits for Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and Team DSM-Firmenich.
Ekoï came onto the scene in 2001, quickly making a name for themselves with their innovative designs and quality products.
They have previously collaborated with teams such as AG2R La Mondiale and Lotto Soudal, providing helmets.
For 2023, Ekoï is designing kits for Cofidis, Israel-Premier Tech, and Team Arkea-Samsic.
Although relatively new, having been established in 2010 in Spain, Gobik has been rapidly gaining recognition for their high-quality, sleek, and modern designs.
Previously, they have designed for Caja Rural–Seguros RGA and Burgos BH.
This year, they are outfitting the Movistar Team.
Alé, based in Italy and founded in 2013, quickly rose to prominence with their vibrant designs and a strong focus on performance.
Alé’s previous partnerships include teams like the Alé BTC Ljubljana women’s team.
For the Tour de France, Alé is creating kits for Team Jayco AlUla, Groupama-FDJ, and Bahrain Victorious.
Founded in 1977 by former professional cyclist Frans Verbeeck, Vermarc has been associated with many famous teams, including Quick-Step Floors and Lotto-Soudal
In 2023, Vermarc is designing the kit for Lotto Dstny.
Giordana, founded in 1979, is an Italian brand known for its premium quality cycling wear.
Over the years, Giordana has been the clothing partner of teams like Astana Pro Team and Orica–Scott.
In 2023, they’re designing for the Astana Qazaqstan Team, bringing their classic, performance-driven design philosophy to the fore.
Established in 1985, Belgian brand Bioracer has become synonymous with speed and innovation.
They have previously provided kits for the national teams of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Bioracer is creating kits for Uno-X Pro Cycling Team and Ineos Grenadiers, designs that highlight their drive for performance improvement and speed.
Sportful, founded in 1946, has a rich heritage of producing high-quality performance apparel.
They’ve been a clothing partner to multiple teams, including the successful Tinkoff team.
Makers of the TotalEnergies kit in 2023, Sportful combines cutting-edge fabric technology with Italian design flair.
With a history dating back to 1966, Dutch brand Agu has a long-standing commitment to creating functional, stylish, and innovative cycling wear.
They have been clothing partners to Team Jumbo–Visma since 2019.
Founded in 1978 under the name of “Ellegi”, Pissei is an Italian brand renowned for its handmade designs.
The entire production process has always been 100% “Made in Italy,” staying true to their origins and preserving their traditions.
They’re outfitting Tadej Pogačar‘s team, UAE Team Emirates.
Since its establishment in 2004, British brand Rapha has become a staple name in cycling.
They have previously designed for Team Sky from 2013 to 2016.
They are now crafting the kit for EF Education-EasyPost.
Castelli, founded in 1876, is a brand steeped in cycling history.
They have clothed many successful teams, including Team Ineos, and popularized many innovations like the first lycra shorts used in professional racing.
They’re designing the kit for Soudal Quick-Step in this year’s Tour de France.
Le Col, founded by professional cyclist Yanto Barker in 2009, has rapidly gained a reputation for their pursuit of performance gains.
In the past, they’ve collaborated with teams like Team Wiggins.
They’re outfitting BORA-hansgrohe.
Established in 1965, Italian brand Santini is renowned for its combination of innovative design and traditional craftsmanship.
They have a history of collaboration with Trek-Segafredo which became Lidl-Trek just before this year’s Tour de France.
Rosti, founded in 1979, is an Italian brand known for its commitment to innovative materials and stylish designs.
They have collaborated with teams like Mapei, one of the most successful teams in history.
They’re designing for AG2R Citroen Team.
In 1991, the cycling clothing production legacy in Tábor began with the meeting between Čestmír Kalaš and Toni Maier, the founder of ASSOS.
This encounter marked the start of their collaboration, as ASSOS sought a manufacturing partner in the Czech Republic capable of crafting and stitching cycling apparel.
Within the same year, Tábor proudly saw the birth of the first jerseys adorned with the iconic ASSOS logo.
They have previously collaborated with teams like the National team of Great Britain.
In 2023, they’re crafting the kit for Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Official 2023 Tour de France Jerseys
The baton of designing the official Tour de France jerseys has been passed on to Santini since 2022.
Santini, a renowned Italian brand, has a history of combining traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology in a blend that is both functional and visually appealing.
The yellow jersey, which is awarded to the overall race leader, has been a classic symbol of the Tour de France.
Santini has given the yellow jersey a fresh look while retaining its iconic status.
The jersey is made with a mix of race fabric on the front and back, and mesh on the sides, ideal for hot days. This combination ensures that the rider stays cool and comfortable while maintaining an aerodynamic edge.
The jersey also features raw-cut sleeves and an elastic silicon gripper to keep it in place, reflecting Santini’s attention to detail and understanding of a cyclist’s needs.
The green jersey, awarded to the points classification leader, has also received a bold redesign.
The redesign has generated a flurry of debates among fans and experts as the iconic green color has been modified.
If anyone tells me the brand-new green jersey is visible, I’ll just show them this picture. 🤷♂️— Benji Naesen (@BenjiNaesen) March 6, 2023
Perfect example of changing a jersey according to the colours of a sponsor, making it worse for spectators. #ParisNice pic.twitter.com/Q5l3P3OGLG
Now, we invite you to join the conversation.
What’s your favorite kit in the history of cycling, and from this year’s Tour de France? Do you have a preferred brand for your own cycling adventures? What are your thoughts on the new green jersey color?
Let us know in the comments below!