Clothing brand Alé has teamed up with distributor Paligap to offer local bike shops exclusive access to a new range of 'Alé X' custom clothing.
The brand and distributor say their goal is to return control to IBDs and eliminate pricing competition, presumably with online retailers, whilst helping them to provide added extra to local cycling communities.
The Movistar pro team kit sponsor will offer the 'Alé X' range of custom clothing to bike shops via Paligap's network. Unlike the Alé custom options available to cycling clubs, shops can use templates to create their designs though they can still submit their own briefs.
The aim is that stores create kit exclusive to them, raising the profile of the shop as local riders take to the lanes.
Discussing the benefits of shop kit for an IBD, owner at Reigate local bike shop Maison du Velo, Tom Hough, said: "Having our own kit, one that is identifiably unique to us, has been crucial in building a shared sense of identity among our ever expanding community of customers."
The shop has a busy social scene with rides almost every day of the week, and many attendees opt to wear the in-house design. Hough added: "The kit spreads the shop name far and wide, instantly signalling we live and breath for cycling at Maison du Velo."
The first UK store to take Alé up on the scheme is LifeCycle UK, based in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Co-owner Robert Morse told us: "The Alé X kit we’ve now designed, in collaboration with Paligap, has given us the opportunity to reinvent our shop image and provide our customers with something truly unique."
Morse added: “We narrowed it down to two designs and as the minimum order quantity was so small we were able to choose both, meaning we can cater for all of our customer base, ranging from complete beginners to experienced racers. We received expert advice on design, an extremely swift turnaround on amendments and we are now looking forward to receiving our kit delivery in the early part of 2020.”
The initiative, according to Alé and Paligap, helps to "eliminate concerns over competition" - notable since Alé's standard range has long been available online at Wiggle, where price slashes are often way out of reach for stores with the friendly but sometimes inconvenient running costs of bricks and mortar.
In a recent Cycling Industry News article, founder of bikepacking bag and event brand Apidura Tori Fahey said discounting culture was playing a "meaningful role" in the decline in numbers of local bike shops.
She said: "most local bike shops simply cannot (and should not try to) compete on cost alone. To thrive, they will need to find other ways to create value and serve their community. There are a lot of shops already in this mindset and you can see the niche they’ve carved out within their communities."
There's no design or set up fee for the Alé X range, and Paligap promise limitless amendments, with a full-time designer on the team. The clothing, available in sizes XXS to 5KL will be designed in the UK and made in Italy, with a competitive RRP and a protected dealer margin.
Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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