Clubs and teams have more choices now than ever for buying sublimated clothing. On the whole, this is a good thing with so many brands competing for your business. But the process of selecting a company can be a little daunting.
The current issue of VeloNews (with Thor Hushovd on the cover) includes a buyer’s guide detailing the key information of 16 custom clothing options. In the guide, we list base pricing for each brand, minimum orders per piece, turnaround time, where the product is made and more. We also explain what differentiates one company from another.
Two custom companies we — okay, I — neglected to include in the magazine are Sugoi and Nalini. I have some information on those companies here, followed by the VeloNews ‘secrets for success with custom’ buying tips below.
For a detailed look at the offerings of 16 custom companies, pick up the current issue of VeloNews on newsstands today.
All Nalini custom product, whether for pro teams or amateur clubs, is made in the Moa Sport factory in Italy just outside Mantova. Nalini is the trademark of Moa Sport, which was founded in 1970 by the Mantovani brothers. Claudio Mantovani is still the boss today.
Custom companies typically use one of two types of sublimation to print graphics — digital and screen. In digital, the full-color design is printed in reverse on a giant piece of paper, then transferred to the material. With screen printing, each color requires a separate perforated screen, through which the ink is transferred.
Which type is better? That depends on who you ask. Companies that use digital claim that their process provides more visual options, as color choices are virtually unlimited, and some screen companies charge per screen. Companies that use screen sublimation claim that printing one color at a time results in deeper, richer colors. Nalini notably offers both sublimation options to clubs.
If you see the item on a Nalini-sponsored pro team — from cap to socks — you can get it for an amateur squad. Everything is done in-house — including manufacturing the fabric and the chamois cream.
Average pricing for a custom jersey when bought in bulk is $48, and bibs are $54. Nalini doesn’t have a minimum order, however, so you can order a single piece, although the pricing will go up.
Delivery time is 8 to 9 weeks from the time you complete and approve the artwork until the time you get your clothes.
Nalini has six chamois options including a natural chamois.
Sugoi has been in the endurance sports clothing business since 1987. All product is made in Canada.
Two things stand out with Sugoi. One, your product selection is quite deep; custom cycling gear includes everything from sports bras to T-shirts to ball caps to podium jackets — not to mention the slew of choices in jerseys and bibs shorts. And two, Sugoi now offers a 3D online design process, so you can see exactly what your design will look like. Anyone who has designed custom clothing using flat templates can tell you this 3D option is a great idea. For example, when I designed custom kits for a team club years ago, I had to do a little arts & crafts project — printing out the template, then cutting and taping it together — in order to wrap my head around how the clothes would look when stitched together.
Sugoi has a minimum order of 24 pieces for the first two styles, then a minimum of 12 pieces for other styles. You can combine certain pieces to reach the minimum.
Price for a jersey is $55 and bibs are $60. Sugoi can also produce single pieces, at higher cost.
Turnaround time is four weeks. Sugoi has two men’s chamois options and two women’s chamois styles.
Secrets to success with custom clothing
1. Make sure the company fits.
Determine your club’s priorities in terms of pricing, quality, turnaround time and types of garments. (Do you want long-sleeve insulated skinsuits and winter hats, or just jerseys and bibs?) Then pick a company that accommodates your needs.
2. Make sure the clothing fits.
Once you’ve selected a company, request a fit kit so everyone can try on shorts, jerseys, jackets, etc. This is a ‘measure twice, cut once’ type of thing.
3. Make sure the timing window fits.
You want to have your new stuff by spring, right? Then stop procrastinating and get to work now.
Editor’s note: Delaney is editor in chief for VeloNews. A journalism graduate of the University of New Mexico, Delaney is responsible for all editorial content online and in the magazine. Delaney joined VeloNews in 2005 as managing editor, having worked previously for The Santa Fe New Mexican, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News and as a freelance writer for various titles. He’s a former (but never very good) Cat. 1 racer. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two children.