Café du Cycliste was born from the romance that exists between the traditional French café and cycling in the French Alps. The apparel is modern and imaginative but always tethered to the great tradition of French Cycling. The colors and patterns are consistent throughout the entire collection and the women’s kits work seamlessly with the men’s. The lead designer of Café du Cycliste is Remi Clermont, a cyclist who comes from Alsace, France, the same region as Thomas Voekler. This small, historic town is known for its fairytale-like scenery and considered by many as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Perhaps growing up surrounded by the pinnacle of natural beauty is the seed from which Remi’s creativity grows.
I was curious to know the thought process and attitude going into designing for different genders, and if the French perspective was unique. It turns out, not so much. What I found from Remi’s responses is that gender differences weren’t necessarily a huge consideration; he’s inspired by the adventure to be had in the French-Riveria, and the community and conversation that blossoms over a trip to the cafe – the ‘joie de vivre’ lifestyle of Café du Cycliste. The collection exudes style and strength – kind of how we think of the French people. -KO
Kelley O’Toole:Where do you draw inspiration from outside of cycling?
Remi Clermont: Inspiration comes from the perception we have of the French clothing tradition and our beloved French-Riviera. We also love to look at other sports from tennis to mountaineering or horse riding just to name a few. The clothing is often a very rich inspiration from a style or from a technical perspective
What role does food (and the cafe experience) have in the concept behind Café du Cycliste?
It is the place where we meet, talk, socialize before and after the rides. This is the essence of our approach to cycling: enjoying great moments and sharing them with friends.
How is designing for a female rider different than a male rider?
In essence, I would say that our approach is to consider that it is no different. Women sweat the same sweat, face the same wind and enjoy the same views at the top of the climbs. A female rider is first of all a rider and we do not want to treat them differently. There is no reason to create something totally different to try to appeal to a female audience. I think our brand and the spirit of our products are from the beginning a “unisex” one. For sure we look very carefully at the fit and features of products to make them specific and comfortable, just like we do for men. But our general approach, the selection of fabric, intended usage of the product and the design, we don’t consider the women’s line as a different range, for us it is part of the same DNA.
I don’t think women buy cycling clothing with the aim of looking over-feminine or to scream out loud that they are ‘a girl on a bike.’ They just want to look as good as they would off the bike. We try to design clothing that looks natural and comfortable on women without the feeling of being dressed-up in a cycling kit.
Can you tell me about the type of woman who wears Café du Cycliste?
Our female customers are very diverse (we sell all over the world to very different women) but the common element I believe is that she is a cyclist that want to wear garments that reflect better who she is and not so much what the traditional cycling world is telling her she should be.
What piece in the collection are you most proud of?
We like when cycling clothing gives women a natural style. I don’t think women buy cycling clothing with the aim of looking over-feminine or to scream out loud that they are ‘a girl on a bike.’ They just want to look as good as they would do off the bike. We try to design clothing that looks natural and comfortable on women without the feeling of being dressed-up in a cycling kit. Our Georgette jersey is one of the products that works very well from a technical and style perspective
Lastly, how do you pair style with performance?
I believe there is no conflict between style and performance. The perceived conflict comes from the “technical style” standard that so-called technical brands have been shaping to give their product legitimate technical recognition. But if you accept that this is mainly an artificial style standard, then you open the door to unlimited options that pair style with performance.
Ed. Note: The Cafe du Cycliste blog is regularly updated with stories of bike touring from all over the globe. Most recently, Cafe du Cycliste writer Max Leonard with photographer Camille J McMillan, took a camera, bikes, and gear to Morrocco and rode the Atlas Mountains that run across Morrocco and into Algeria.