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Interview: Morvélo Apparel Talks Tees, Unity Among Riders, and the Brighton Big Dog

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Oli Pepper of Morvélo, an up-and-coming clothing company in Brighton, UK, tells Bikerumor.com about how the brand sprang from a love of all the different disciplines of cycling, about the Brighton Big Dog mountain bike race, which last year had Magnus Backstedt as a surprise entrant, and big plans for 2010.attack

How and why did you set the Morvélo up?

At the start of 2009 we just couldn’t get excited about any of the existing casual clothing brands aimed at cyclists. Or we could, but they were too limited to one area, like Fox for example. We still love the Fox stuff but it doesn’t speak to the road, track and cyclocross side in us. Morvélo first and foremost is about all bikes and was set up to help try and create a certain unity between the different factions and all through the humble T-shirt. It’s tricky prospect as some disciplines don’t identify with others, even though they are still riding, in essence, the same thing. Two wheels good.

Morvélo – more bikes, right? How does the name reflect your philosophy?

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. We ride and race all sorts of bikes and felt that there was too much perceived segregation in the different disciplines of cycling, in terms of brands. Most people ride several different types of bike and go on to ride even more. I started out riding, like most people over the age of 30, on BMXs, then onto MTBs. I stuck with them for a decade or so until a friend lent one me a road bike. The speed was awesome and it suddenly opened my eyes to this whole other world of bikes. From there came cyclocross, more recently track and now thinking about getting back into BMX racing again.

It seems to us this progression and crossover is becoming more common, and we want Morvélo to be a symbol of this. We not just about freeride MTB, we’re not just about fixed, we not just about the cols of the Tour de France. We love all of it. The bicycle is such a wonderfully simple invention that can be used in such a diverse way, it deserves to be celebrated.

Click ‘more’ to read about the tees, the Lycra and Marcus Backstedt riding MTB and plans for a partnership with Kinesis… And more pics!

morv-greyTell me about your clothing design – what are the influences?

The main source comes from within bike culture itself. The diversity means there is plenty of inspiration to draw on. Each type of cycling offers the rider a different and unique experience so we pick up on that too. The other main influence is pop culture. Like all cyclists, we have other lives and loves from film, music, other sports, art and so on, and want this to be an integral part of the designs. In our current range we have influences from Picasso to Jim Phillips. More and more people of finding that cycling is just awesome and with that they bring with them whole raft of expectations and demands in terms of design. Even though cycling is still a sport, it is becoming far more design led. Not just in terms of engineering, which is a necessity, but now in terms of graphic design and aesthetics. Our background and other passion is graphic design so this is a natural fusion.

Photo ©Joolze Dymond
Photo ©Joolze Dymond

You make both technical cycling clothing – Lycra and stuff – and also casual T-shirts, but none of the ‘urban’ stuff that crosses between the two. Is this deliberate or a work in progress?

Deliberate in so much as we can’t yet afford to do it yet. We’re a super small company so we doing things organically. so to speak. T-shirts are at our core at the moment as this is what made us start Morvélo.

The Lycra and technical clothing has come about from our love of racing. We and many of our friends love to race all sorts of bikes so we thought we should do some kit that we can ride in and not look too much like a traditional cyclist. We had a great response to this at races, events and out on rides.

We’d love to do it all and the urban side is a definite for the future. The way things work at the moment is, for example, we think one day, ‘Hey, we could do with some hats’. We then find a supplier, work on a design, and just have a handful made. This means our designs stay fresh, we don’t over commit, we test the water and above all, our customers buy something that not everyone will have.

magnus-backstedtWhat about the Brighton Big Dog?

This has been a surprise too! There was a MTB race Brighton in 2008 called the G2 Revolver which had Gary Fisher sponsor it and make a personal appearance! This was the first MTB race in Brighton (where Morvélo is based) for many years. When they decided not to do it in 2009, we and a group of other Brighton locals decided we couldn’t let it go. So that was the birth of the Brighton Big Dog. A group of friends and riding buddies deciding that we’ll just do it off our own backs. Non profit. Just a race because we all love to ride, and then put a large chunk of the takings behind the bar for a party in Brighton afterwards.

The response was overwhelming. People saying how much they loved the course and the laid back and grass roots atmosphere. Something that almost felt quite Old Skool. We sold out in 2009 and already have over 100 people for the 2010 race. We’re capping numbers as we want the course to be as much fun as possible as it’s all about the riding and not about the profit. Make it different, make it fun, let the good times roll!

We can’t take all the credit and there is a core group of volunteers who work tirelessly and it’s them we doff our cycling cap to. Without them it just wouldn’t happen. 2010 is already shaping up to to be much of the same. The only main changes to this year’s event is hopefully the inclusion of a youth race before the main event, a Retro Teams and Retro Pairs categories, and beer token to make sure everyone gets their fair share. The will probably be many more little bits and pieces added as we go along.

What are your next level plans?

More T-shirts, more riding, more racing, more adventures and more products where we think we can inject the Morvélo perspective into. Oh and to make sure we are always growing in the right direction at the right speed.

2010 is a big year for us in terms of partnerships. We’ve got something really exciting going on with Kinesis, which we’re just polishing and fine tuning.

Then there’s also other events like the Singlespeed UK champs, Bontrager TwentyFour12, The British MountainBike Series, The South East Track Championships and a few other possibles. All in all a busy and exciting year.

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