Second British cycling clothing brand enters liquidation

Milltag forced into voluntary insolvency as cost of living crisis continues to hit sector

CW heritage kit
(Image credit: Future)

British cycling clothing brand Milltag has been forced into voluntary insolvency, according to documents filed on Companies House.

The company was known for its striking custom designs based on music, arts and culture, and was the brand behind Cycling Weekly's 130th anniversary heritage kit just two years ago.

Documents filed on Monday reveal that the London-based brand owed HMRC £11,509 when it entered liquidation earlier this month. It also owed trade creditors £35,172 and one of its founder Michael Cowburn a further £12,500.

The company's statement of affairs showed it had assets worth £6,847 to work help pay off some of its tax bill, meaning it appeared likely to leave trade creditors and its founder out of pocket. 

The company appointed David Wilson of Leeds-based DFW Associates to handle the  winding-up of the business, which was agreed by its shareholders on 9 January.

Its website, which has now been taken down, said that Milltag was "motivated by a common vision to create technical products that are as stylish as they are ethical".

It was founded in 2010 by Ed Cowburn and Pete Kelsey "as a response to not being able to find any jerseys that weren’t boring, generic and uninspiring", according to its website.

The brand's site said: "Our innovative products utilise the finest technical materials and are ethically tailored by hand in Europe. Our blend of design knowledge, product development and hands-on customer service means we deliver the best and most distinctive road cycling apparel on the market."

"Milltag was the perfect partner for our heritage kit," Cycling Weekly editor Simon Richardson said. "Ed (Cowburn) had come into our office to look through our archive and was blown away by the treasure trove of photography, illustrations and magazine back issues. 

"From that he went away and came up with the two designs for our heritage kit, plus other ideas that incorporated the wonderful illustrations of Frank Patterson and brilliant cartoons of Johnny Helms. He immediately understood the connection this art has to the British cycling scene. As a cyclist himself, he just got it."

Examples of clients, beyond CW, include West Ham United football club, Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome, and Transport for London, for whom Milltag created Victoria line and District line moquette-themed jerseys.

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Milltag also collaborated with bands like The Pixies, Madness and Motörhead, as well as designing a special jersey in collaboration with the artist Sir Peter Blake. 

"I’m delighted with my Milltag cycle wear range," the artist said in 2021. "I have used some of my Dazzle imagery on these pieces and think they have worked well. My racing cycling days are long gone but I still keep up with cycling but now watching it from the sidelines."⁣

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The brand was also behind the original leaders' jerseys for the Tour de Yorkshire, and also worked with race organisers ASO on the Tour of Oman distinctive jerseys.

The former owner of Milltag was contacted by Cycling Weekly on Friday morning, but was unavailable.

The CW heritage kit is still available here.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.