If you don’t like dressing in the clothing equivalent of a NASCAR paint job when you ride, you will connect with the aesthetic of Search And State’s “all road” apparel. But underneath the clean look are high-quality fabrics and design touches you’re not likely to find with the bigger brands. A bonus is that all of the company’s pieces are made in the USA.
We sat down with Devin O’Brien, a founder at Search And State. After discussing our shared love of donuts, we got into a talk about the Search And State brand and our beloved sport of cycling.
Where does the name Search and State stem from?
On the most basic level, we wanted the name to be something of a motivator. Search the world for an accomplishment, State those things you want to achieve, and then deliberately go after them. It’s an intersection of the idea and the action.
All Search and State gear is made in New York? Give us the back story.
The NYC Garment District is alive and well. With Daniel [co-founder] being in NYC, it makes sense for us. He can be very close and connected to the process to make sure we get what we want. Every part of our process takes place in a three-block radius. It’s how we want to operate. The ethical “Made-in-USA” part is great, too, but the simple fact is that the Garment District is the best thing available to us.
The aesthetic is often described as clean, simple, and understated. How did you guys develop this look?
It’s what we want to wear. Calling it “simple” is overlooking all the thought that goes into the parts and the execution. We work hard to find fabrics that feel, look, and perform to our standards. We focus on the elements of the clothing first using all the components to truly design something better. Then we match zippers with fabric and all the visuals. Does the fabric accept dye well? Will colors be rich? Our aesthetic may appear simple, but a lot of thought goes into every piece we design and I think our customers can see that.
One of my favorite parts of Search and State tops are those Riri zippers. They are not the dainty little zippers we’ve grown to expect on cycling wear. What’s the story on those?
We wanted our clothing to feel well-made and functional — like a uniform you’d wear into battle. We tested a lot of zippers and Riri are the best and also most expensive. Some brands sell $180 jerseys with a $1 zipper on them. They cheap-out on the one part that can fail and leave the jersey or jacket useless.
The SAS bibs are pretty special, too. I’ve compared them to a blend of spandex and sweatpants.
The hand-feel is something you cannot really get until you try them on. We use an incredibly comfortable luxe fabric that is still durable. The S1-S bibs are not a dainty, race-feel bib. We ask ourselves “Is it unique to cycling” and “Is it better than what’s out there”? We look beyond the normal fabrics used in the industry. One of Daniel’s strengths as a designer is choosing fabrics — finding that blend of durability, comfort and fit for the application.
What’s next for the company?
We are bringing some women’s items to the lineup. We’re both avid racers and do our own R&D. But we’ve had to reach out to some ladies for help. We have Megan Healy riding from the Florida Keys to Alaska. If she can go 9,000 miles in our stuff, we figure that will be a great test of its performance. She’ll experience every possible climate and weather. You can follow her journey at www.KeysToFreeze.com and @keystofreeze.
Everyone hates being put in a box, but is there a rider in mind when you design this gear? Who’s the ideal customer?
Our slogan is “All Road Apparel.” There’s not a boundary to what we’d like our gear to be used for. CX, gravel, touring, crits, mountain — whatever, if you love being on a bike and appreciate well-made gear, it’s a fit.
Ok, enough about clothing. Tell me about one memorable ride this year!
I raced two weeks ago in Fort Collins, Colo. It was “Cross of the North” and I finished dead f*%&ing last. [laughs] You don’t forget when you get beat that badly! It puts it all in perspective. I could list excuses, but if you aren’t going out there and having fun, you’re not doing it right. It was humiliating, but I love racing and getting outside of my comfort zone. If you only race against the same people on the same courses, are you really pushing yourself? Where are your limits?