Interbike day two found me holed up in my hotel room without a hope in hell of making it to the show. I was halfway through a 16 hour editing session when the Twitter invite from Outlier, cassette, Swrve and Gage&DeSoto arrived. They were hosting a collective trunk show one floor below mine, so before you could say garment district I was taking a break and heading for the elevator.
I was happy for the break and another chance to catch up with Kaiko Shimura who writes the terrific pedal-strike blog, contributes to Embrocation Magazine, co-founded cassette, sews smart cycling caps, models on Fridays and in her spare time studies law. Yes, all that, AND she rides. After a great chat with her and cassette cofounder Mike Spriggs, I spent some time with Tyler and Abe from Outlier.
Up till that point Outlier was a brand I'd watched from a distance. They had an urban, hip appeal and produced small runs of trousers, shirts, caps for people who cycled using quality fabrics and everything was made in NYC. Once or twice I'd come close to buying a piece of Outlier clothing but I hesitated, and with short runs, the sizes went fast. I think I liked their philosophy straight off.
From About Us on Outlier.com... We believe in strong communities and we see both our production people and our customers as an integral part of our personal community. We are here to build a long lasting company dedicated to quality. Quality in our product of course, and also quality in how we relate to the world. We treat people fairly and we treat our environment like it's not just our home, but the home we want our grandchildren to ride their bikes in. We think we are making clothing for a better way of life, and hopefully you'll join with us to get there.
Well it wasn't long before Abe had me trying on a pair of Outlier Workwear slacks and a super soft Empire Merino Tee. Putting them on dispelled a lingering doubt that the clothes might not fit an ordinary build like mine. When I mentioned that to Abe he made it clear that Outlier wasn't limiting itself to pencil-thin 20 somethings and that their designs targeted a broader audience interested in classic, good-looking, functional clothing. That philosophy and smart tailoring made for a good fit, and thanks to Abe and Tyler's generosity I got to keep both pieces. Consider that full disclosure FTC.
A couple of weeks later I noticed Outlier's Waxed Cotton Caps and ordered one in black. This is a true hat, made in collaboration with NYC master milliner Victor Osborne. Double lined in bengaline with grosgrain banding it's more substantial than any other cap I own. It fits great under helmets from Specialized, Giro and Catlike. More than anything else I love its comfort. The Outlier cap eschews a constricting piece of elastic in favor of a true fabric sweatband. You won't get a headache wearing this hat.
I will say that because of its lining and medium weight the hat absorbs a lot of moisture worn under your helmet. Though I'm fond of salt stains that prove you actually put in the miles, the cap can be rinsed and spot cleaned with cool water as required. The instructions indicate dry clean only, but Tyler confirmed the rinse/air dry treatment is fine.
Though it's rare for me to ride without a helmet, it looks good by itself and I've taken to wearing it when shooting. This is a new standard that's going to get a lot of wear.
The Outlier Waxed Cotton Cap is available in black, navy, stone blue and army green, $60
The Outlier Workwear Pants are available in slate gray, $188 (limited sizes)
The Outlier Empire Merino Tee is available in black, $75