When The Discerning Cyclist was launched in 2011, one of the key aspects I was interested in was finding cycling clothes that were office appropriate. During the journey I’ve come across successful attempts and some not so successful. But there is undoubtedly still a long way to go when it comes to having a plethora of office-meets-cycling wear.
Smart shirts you can cycle in
When it comes to shirts for the office – as we’ll look at in a moment – cyclists want a top that looks formal, is a good fit, has some flexibility in the material, has a slightly longer back and, crucially, is made of light, breathable material.
A couple of months ago, Louis Pollack, the founder and designer of Fairwear got in touch with me. He introduced me to his new company’s range of ‘performance inspired’ shirts, of which he draws a lot of inspiration from his hometown of Philadelphia and in particular its founding father, Benjamin Franklin, with his timeless quote of “No Perspiration Without Representation” providing particular inspiration.
After checking out the Fairwear website and looking at their product range, which currently consists of just nine shirts, I was extremely impressed by the design of the shirts, with nearly all of them looking like smart office shirts -not cycling shirts – just normal shirts. I say “nearly all of them”, because, unless you like to boast a more, shall we say ‘extravagant’ sense of style, their two Vintage products, the Kramer Paisley and the Strawberry Mansion, are most certainly eye-catching. As you can see below.
Being a generally more conservative dresser, I opted to try out the Samson Stripe COOLMAX® Shirt, which is available for $85 (approximately £50).
Now, the big focus of the Fairwear range is to provide apparel for “work, play and everything in-between”.
Most of the shirts they produce, including the Samson Stripe, is made using COOLMAX® material, containing 60% cotton and 40% polyester, which helps to wick away sweat from the body in a similar manner to merino wool.
My first impression of the shirt after getting hold of it was just how light and smooth the material was. Before even wearing it, I was confident this shirt would be a pleasure to cycle in. And for once I was right. Even cycling in the Spanish sun, I felt relatively cool. Not just in terms body temperature, but also because I felt comfortable and looked smart in this shirt.
While staying cool and having a longer back are key cycling components, they have sacrificed nothing when it comes to the cut, fit and overall quality of the shirt. There’s always a fear with some cycling clothes that they look like performance wear, but the Samson Shirt is an exceptionally well cut shirt, that results in being a great tapered fit.
In terms of style, this shirt features extremely thin navy stripes and has a button down collar – always a great look in my opinion (and much easier to keep looking good after a few washes). The Samson is also very flexible in what type of trousers you can match it up with, with jeans, khakis or a good old pair of slacks all suiting the shirt well.
A refreshing factor about Fairwear is that they opt to make all of their products locally, in Philadelphia. Making it extremely impressive that they can produce such high quality products for about 50 quid.
This is the best cycling-come-office shirt I have come across yet and I’m very excited as to what Fairwear will come up with in the future, as they hopefully go on to expand their range.