What bikes do you own and where do you ride?
I used to own loads, but I had to keep selling them as I’ve not been earning while setting Vulpine up. Now I just have a full sus carbon Scott and a custom stainless steel Feather frame built with Athena. High on the list are a hardtail 29er, a sit-up-and-beg town bike and a winter hack. I want a track bike too. Not that I ever get any time to ride these with a baby on the way!
Tell us about Vulpine and how it began:
I started road racing and TTing as a kid back in the mid-eighties, but I’ve had a knackered back since I was a teen.
It had made sense to me for a long time to make stylish casual cycling gear that actually performs. Apart from the manufacturing, I had the skills in place, especially in terms of creating a brand and marketing it. I design the gear, website, write the blogs and do the marketing. My partner Philip runs things day-to-day, paying the bills and making sure everything works. The quiet hero. After two years of research and raising the investment, we launched in March. It has been a hectic year!
I think a lot of the cycling market is stuck, copying each other’s marketing and not innovating. I hope we’re pushing things forward with events like the Vulpine Cycling Fetes.
What garments do you produce and for what budget?
Performance apparel you can wear on and off the bike. In cycling terms it’s high priced. In wider apparel/fashion terms its mid-priced. £195 for a rain jacket in cycling is very serious money. On the High Street that’s very different. We use really technical fabrics and techniques. It’s good value, but not cheap.
We do lots of merino tops, jackets, shorts, trousers, caps. We’ll soon be extending our women’s range considerably, too.
Can bike retailers take stock and if so, how?
We’re essentially an online brand, but we have a few retail partners because we like each other and they understand what we’re doing. The clothing has a lot of features and they need explaining, so we need places with great service. We’d consider taking on a few more partners, but we’re not seeking distribution.
Any product in the pipeline that you’re excited about?
Yeah, the shorts and trousers have just come out – the best garments we’ve made. And we have a chunk of women’s gear arriving in March.
Any item in particular proving popular?
We’re selling out of sizes in most things. The garment that has become our signature is the Cotton Rain Jacket. It’s had amazing reviews in The Independent, Sunday Times, Guardian and the cycling press. Now the Softshell Jacket has overtaken it, as it’s colder. And the 100 per cent Merino T is being called ‘perfect’ and we’re struggling to keep up on that too. We’re expanding from eight garments right now, to 16 in a few weeks, to 35 in March.