Last fall, our in-house Team GearJunkie/WEDALI squad took home the title of Adventure Racing National Champions.
For 2013, with the new title we decided it was time to look the part. We met up with Podiumwear, a Minnesota-based custom sportswear shop, and had 30 professional-looking kits made for our adventure racing and mountain biking teams.
After an easy (and fun!) monthlong process with Podiumwear, we netted some high quality uniforms that cost about $150 each. The price included a jersey in the brand’s top-end “gold” fabric, a thin polyester/spandex material, and shorts made of a nylon/spandex blend.
Plus, some of the squad added to the order a short-sleeve polyester running shirt to use for adventure racing.
Myself and fellow GearJunkie racer Tom Puzak were involved in the design process from the start. We met up with Podiumwear owners Reid and Jessica Lutter at the company’s headquarters in St.Paul, Minn., to get the design going.
We started with a blank slate and some team logos. Podiumwear jumped in and worked on design ideas. This sets the company apart — there is no online template for jersey design and each team gets true custom treatment.
On the Podiumwear site there are example kits. You can start with those and tell a designer at the company what you like. There is no charge for the custom design once your team has committed to an order.
My experience involved an on-site visit and then a few emails. After comparing mock-ups, we settled on a final design within a week or so that we loved — subtle topographic map lines with the team logo overlay on top. (If you’re not in the region the company can do all the design remotely; no need to make a site visit.)
Stripes around the collar of the jersey and legs of the shorts were the finishing touch.
One thing we loved about Podiumwear, in addition to the headquarters being local, is that the company does all of its work onsite or in the Twin Cities. To start the process, they print the image design onto giant pieces of paper just down the hall from their desks.
From there, the paper image is put into a huge machine and transferred onto a roll of fabric in a process called sublimation. The fabric is hand-cut on site. The cut pieces are then sent to neighboring facility where they are sewn by local groups in-house. They are then checked for quality, packaged and sent off for delivery.
From start to finish, the process took about 4 weeks. Not bad, considering our order was placed during the peak production season when many of the other local cycling teams were designing new kits too.
The GearJunkie/WEDALI teams have been rocking the new kits for a couple of weeks now. The polyester and spandex blend of the bike shorts and jersey make the kit super lightweight and breathable.
The quality of the material is right up there with my high-end Pearl Izumi or Castelli kits. Plus, having the custom designed graphics really sets our team apart on the race podium.
The process of working with Podiumwear was effortless and easy. If there was a change we needed in the design or in the order, the company was quick to respond. Overall we are stoked with our new Podiumwear kits and excited to show them off on the course this season.
—Amy Oberbroeckling is an assistant editor and an athlete on Team GearJunkie/WEDALI.
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