Understandably most of our customers are looking for the best deal possible on their custom cycling clothing and whilst we do everything we can to keep our prices down, €36.90 for a short-sleeve jersey is not exactly cheap as chips so here we are going to explain what makes custom cycling clothing expensive.
The first thing to understand is sublimation printing – this is how we get the designs on to the fabric. With sublimation printing, your design is printed on a special kind of paper which is then pressed up against the fabric and heat is applied, which dyes the top layer of fabric with the design as it is transferred from the paper. Sublimation printing is so much better than previous kinds of printing where the design effectively sits on top of the fabric (and so can ultimately peel off), because with sublimation printing the fabric is effectively dyed so will hold its design forever. There are two problems with sublimation printing – it cannot be used on 100% natural fabrics (so not on cotton for example) and it is expensive! First off you need a special printer to print the dye on to the sublimation paper, second, the paper itself is expensive and finally the whole process is very time consuming – we need to set up a sublimation design for every panel in the garments, then this paper has to be applied to the correct panel and pressed.
The next thing that makes custom cycling clothing expensive is the fabrics themselves. There is a massive difference in price from using a basic polyester to a cutting edge carbon thread microfibre like we use for our custom cycling jerseys. The raw material can easily cost 3 or 4 times more from basic to premium. In the case of the high-end engineered Lycra that we use for our Racefit jerseys for example the difference is even more stark compared to a more basic product. You can also imagine that the premium breathable waterproof membranes that we use for our jackets are very expensive as adding an extra 10% of breathability to a membrane can double its price for example. Generally the custom cycling clothing market in Europe has moved towards a demand for these new high-performance premium fabrics rather than the cheap and cheerful end of the market (which mostly comes out of China now).
The final thing that makes custom cycling clothing so expensive is branding – 20 years ago, cycling was a minority sport and whilst there were a few premium Italian cycling clothing brands around, the custom sector of the market was dominated by local suppliers who focused more on functionality and service than on branding. Now the custom sector is dominated by massive international brands that have to spend enormous amounts on marketing and sponsorship (look at the custom cycling clothing market leader, the Chinese behemoth Champion System which sponsort the Tour de France winning team UAE Emirates for example). Sponsorship deals and marketing campaigns can be very expensive and ultimately the client has to pay. Cycling as a whole is becoming more brand-led and for a lot of riders it is increasingly important to be seen wearing the right brand.
Here at Carvalho Custom, we focus our spending on the first two points, but not on the third. Cycling clubs that want to be seen wearing fancy brands will no doubt look past Carvalho Custom and that is fine, because we cannot keep everyone happy. We can strip out a lot of cost that some of our competitors have because we don’t spend any money on marketing or sponsorship – we just rely on word-of-mouth to find new clients. Our promise has always been “pro quality kit at reasonable prices”, which might not trip off the tongue like a fancy marketing slogan, but it is what we believe in. So if you are looking for some great quality kit at fair prices but without any of the big brand nonsense, please get in touch!