Martin Velits is a professional cyclist for Etixx-Quickstep. His twin brother Peter rides for BMC. Together they founded and run Isadore, a company making cycling jerseys, shorts, caps, socks and accessories from their home country of Slovakia.
This is not what you would expect professional cyclists to do.
The company philosophy reads: “Road is the way of Life.” You can find it written on their clothing, bottles and posters.
“You can imagine a lot of meanings behind it, but to me it represents that you don’t always, or should not always be focussed on the goal, on the finish, but also on the road that takes you there,” says Martin Velits.
“That’s the same with bike riding; it’s sometimes from A to B but what is really important is the stuff between.”
This is not what you would expect a professional cyclist to say.
“Road is the way of Life” is written on the underside of the peak on the cap in a new collaboration between Isadore and Rouleur. It sums up the Isadore approach.
Isadore kit is designed by two professional riders; take it from us that racking up tens of thousands of kilometres per year training and racing across the globe tends lends a pretty unbeatable sense of what works well in cycling clothing and what doesn’t.
Styled by the Velits twins and the company art director Martin Gross, the classic jersey takes its cues from the red and white in the coat of arms of their capital city, Bratislava. The kit is ‘made by hands’ in a factory that also produces high-end fashion clothing for a range of European brands.
So of course the end product is damn good. But what’s really important to Martin and Peter is how they pull it together.
That factory is located just 500m from their house in Puchov, Slovakia, not only because it makes it easy for two globetrotting riders to manage business but because it allows them to support their home town’s second biggest employer.
“Having the factory here with decades of experience, and in really high fashion brands, that was something we aimed for at the beginning,” Martin says. “That’s why we’re really proud of stating that it is made by hands.”
While his teammates are occupying their dead time around races by tweeting or watching Netflix, Martin tends to have his head buried in books on fashion, design and sustainability. Inspiration, he says, came from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, “the number one brand in terms of really looking after sustainability and supporting environmental causes.”
Hence Isadore uses only recycled paper in its packaging and its fabric comes from a mill just over the border in Czech Republic. Sourcing the materials locally, Velits says, means Isadore can trace them back to their origins and ensure they meet standards of sustainability and, in the case of merino wool for a cycling jersey, animal welfare.
“Textile manufacturing is a dirty business, no matter how you try to do it, you’re always going to use a lot of water, a lot of energy, and a lot of chemicals,” he says.
“There’s no easy way around it but with a little more info, there is always a choice of something more conscious. We try to speak with manufacturers, then we look up the supplier and where they source materials. It’s little things like this that I believe in, and helps to create a more sustainable product.”
Road is the way of life. It’s not always about where you end up, but how you get there.