Maloja, a German activewear brand, is making inroads in the United States by adding Euro spunk to a black sea of spandex.
Maloja (pronounced “mah-low-yah”) makes adventure apparel and streetwear for men and women. I put some of its mountain bike gear to the test. I admit I was originally sucked in by charming prints and styling. But this gear’s performance matches its good looks.
Founded in 2004, Maloja specializes in road and mountain biking apparel, as well as Nordic/ski mountaineering and lifestyle pieces. The brand currently sells products online and at 300 bicycle and specialty outdoor retailers. It’s growing slowly in North America.
I was most interested in testing Maloja’s women’s mountain bike clothing. U.S. companies like Shredly, Club Ride (CR), and Wild Rye are trying to inject style, comfort, and function into activewear for this sport. But if you’ve ever shopped for bike apparel, you know there’s plenty of room for a good rookie brand.
The issue is that for a sport that doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s not a lot of “fun” mountain bike apparel in general. Michelle Zembal agrees. She’s a buyer for The Alpineer in Crested Butte, Colo.
Her store is listed as one of only two in the state that carries Maloja.
“The prints are just so refreshing and different,” Zembal said. She just received her order of Maloja Nordic ski wear, which she says is equally as energetic. The premium apparel brand works well for Crested Butte’s mountain bikers, many of whom transition to the endurance sport in the winter.
But the biggest win for women, she said, is Maloja’s fit. “It isn’t that Euro-skinny fit that means women have to size up in bike shorts,” she said. “So it really crosses over to the U.S. market.”
Maloja Statement Pieces Can Walk the Walk
While I tried a Maloja top, jersey, and hoodie, some still available online and some not, the standout was a pair of stretchy pleated knickers, almost bloomers. Sounds dorky, but they were downright adorable. And functional.
First, these lightweight, knee-length pants fit perfectly over padded bike shorts. They added a welcome layer of coverage for cooler shoulder-season rides.
But the styling made these pants for me: a modern “army” green that still felt feminine; a stripped, stretch ribbon waistband with a stay-put gel inner liner; an unobtrusive stash pocket; and Velcro at the knee for adjustments while pedaling. Really, I could go on.
But what I appreciate about all the Maloja activewear pieces I’ve tried is that most hit that tricky triad I’m always looking for:
1. Statement pieces: Outdoor clothing that’s just plain fun to wear and starts conversations on the trail.
2. Fit and function: Really intentional pieces designed to fit women’s bodies and how they move on mountain bikes but also fit in at the brewpub.
3. Crossover potential: Smart, high-end fabric choices and detailing that allow the active apparel to work for multiple outdoor activities.