Book Review: The Art of The Jersey

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Art of The Jersey by Andy Storey

Pro cycling requires a working bicycle and once that’s taken care of surely the jersey is the next most important thing? When people think of the Tour de France many associate it with the yellow jersey, a genuine icon. More than a textile the jersey has become a shop window to display the sponsors who make the wheels turn around and once you look over time the jersey chronicles design, consumerism and technology.

The book features over 200 jerseys, many belonging to Storey’s own collection with others borrowed for the occasion. It’s like having a museum on your bookshelf or coffee table, a private collection of jerseys to display and the accompanying notes.

Storey has been working in the cycle trade for years and has a keen interested in jerseys, detailed on his blog at cycling-jersey-collection.com and the work has now been turned into this book.

It begins in the 1950s and skips quickly through the next 30 years as there was little revolution in the product design and several of the jerseys shown are replicas rather than originals but show us the plain designs in existence for years. A lot of this was because of technology, wool jerseys stayed the same for years. The “flocking” technique explained in the book allowed a logo be placed on a jersey. The Brooklyn jersey features in here, often cited as a classic from the 70s as much because of Roger De Vlaeminck’s style and sideburns as its prime design. Storey celebrates the jersey by explaining its novelty, the stitching of wool and acrylic panels to achieve the legendary stripes.

The Art of The Jersey screengrab

“Flocking”? There’s more than the graphic design and which famous rider wore a jersey. Sections on the decades are introduced with an explainer on kit production and design with the technical features introduced such as sublimation printing and the introduction of Lycra for the 1980s or the 1990s and the introduction of gel inserts in the short pads.

Art of The Jersey page

Some of the small details spark interest. The 1985 Nikon-Van Schilt-Elro Snacks-Colnago jersey features a full length zipper and slightly misaligned sponsor names caused by the sewing. Fast forward to 2011 and the sponsor-heavy Androni Giocattoli (10 sponsors on the front of the jersey alone, many more on the side, rear and shoulders) still has a white zipper cutting the sponsor names in half, we’re still waiting for the day when the zipper can match the fabric.

Art of the Jersey Ariostea

Or take something else like the Ariostea jersey from 1988 made by Vittore Ganni, a tailoring workshop making sports clothes for football clubs, the Milan ballet and now cycling and a young Armando Castelli began work before taking over the business and putting his name on the business. Meanwhile the jersey itself with its tiled pattern was only possible because of developments in sublimation printing and the tiles show off the product of Ariostea, an Italian ceramics firm. This in turn makes you think about the sponsors and the days when a mid-size Italian business wanted to back one of the world’s top teams. Ariostea’s factory in central Italy is only a short ride away from the Stadio Mapei, the Mapei sports stadium bought by the adhesives mogul Giorgio Squinzi who sponsored a cycling team and whose jerseys feature in this book, either the summit of sublimation or the low point depending on your tastes. The joy of the book is journeys like this, you might recall a jersey and start pedalling down Memory Lane or branch off to find which other riders were on a team and so on.

Loyal readers might remember the review of The Jersey Project by Bill Humphreys and Jerry Dunn but this American book has vanished, or at least the website behind it has gone. There is still the original Dutch version Koerstrui which catalogues Henk Theuns’ huge collection of jerseys. If there’s a criticism of The Art of The Jersey it’s that it’s not big enough. Koestrui has more jerseys, five times as many but this means they get less attention, sometimes 12 per page and with no commentary on them. Storey’s collection is weighted towards Santini jerseys too, a lot of specials from the Italian manufacturer like national champions jerseys but it never feels like a Santini catalogue, there’s plenty from the likes of Castelli, Exteondo, Rapha and more.

The Verdict
An enjoyable read with a variety of jerseys and the accompanying text is helpful whether indicating who wore a particular jersey or explaining some of the technical features behind it, the “art” is not just the artwork but the craft that goes into the manufacturing of the jersey. This is for those wanting to explore cycling history from the 1970s onwards in an alternative way than the usual tales of the Tour de France, Merckx or Hinault. Instead this is the story of the jersey, sponsorship and graphic design.

Disclaimer: this book was sent free for review and the author Andy Storey works for Prendas who sponsor this site. This could obligate a nice review but this website would go downhill faster than Romain Bardet if I started to do puff pieces so hopefully the above is a fair take

More book reviews at inrng.com/books

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AJC June 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Picked this book up from my local library the other day. I haven’t had a chance to read much but a quick flick through looks promising, with obviously a greater focus on more modern jerseys.

BenW June 15, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Fair take indeed. I’ve got “The Art Of The Jersey”, which took some hunting down when I got it (possibly for reasons you allude to) and this will make a lovely companion piece. Plus, Prendas is short hand for “take my money” as far as I’m concerned. I can’t speak highly enough.

Mendip5000 June 15, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Whilst a jersey IS certainly important, I’d choose a pair of bibshorts next, after the bike. But then I’m not a pro…

gazelle CM June 15, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Koestrui should be koeRstrui, there are no cows involved šŸ˜‰

The Inner Ring June 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

Haha, that could be someone else’s book project, fixed thanks.

Steve June 16, 2016 at 12:14 am

A good read, it has the real feel of someone’s personal collection and you can sense they really care for the jerseys and the stories behind them.

Joe K. June 16, 2016 at 3:48 am

My favorite jersey of all time has always been the Team Peugeot’s black and white checkered jersey. So iconic of road racing in the 60’s~80’s with greats from Merckx through Millar and Phil Anderson riding in it. Too bad it’s no longer in the peloton.

Alan M June 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Me too, as a huge Robert Millar fan, it was the first jersey to imprint itself on me.

My all-time favourite is the Mondrian La Vie Claire jersey. Had one back in the 80s.

(replicas) of both can be bought from Prendas – I have the Peugeot one. Can’t quite bring myself to buy the La Vie Claire now, as I don’t think I’d actually wear it now šŸ˜‰ … but I do have a nice T-shirt version from Prendas.

Anonymous June 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

Will give this a go certainly. Must be better than some of the other churned out “cycling” books.

Steev H June 16, 2016 at 10:28 am

“downhill faster than Romain Bardet” – nice!

Robert the Rampage June 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

Great book from a great company!! I have known Mick since his days at Primera Sport, and when I saw the advert in the magazine “Cycle Sport” for Etxe Ondo kit for my all-time favorite team, Euskadi and later Euskaltel-Euskadi, tears came to my eyes. I finally found the HOLY GRAIL. Ever since that moment Mick and I created a true friendship, and our road trips to Northern Italy to meet new suppliers are forever etched in my memory. Andy’s book is really top notch, spot on with details. I will be more than happy to send my personal collection of pro jerseys from the 1980’s. They will come in handy for the second edition of this outstanding book.

Sophie Elise June 18, 2016 at 7:51 am

I bought this book from book fair two days ago. Didn’t go through yet but after reading this article, it makes me interested.
Thanks for the post.

Paul Jakma June 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Bring back the wool jersey I say!

Who wants to wear oil?

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