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The complete history of Castelli Cycling

The Italian brand behind Supreme's latest collaboration

The complete history of Castelli Cycling The Italian brand behind Supreme's latest collaboration

Supreme SS19 lookbook was finally released, the brand founded by James Jebbia in 1994. Taking a first look we already spot the first collaborations, Oakland Raiders and Playboy. But something different than usual has caught our attention.

New Spring/Summer 2019 collection coming soon.

Un post condiviso da Supreme (@supremenewyork) in data:

The teaser had particularly impressed us because in the only image posted on Instagram there is a detail that has attracted everyone's attention: the shirt worn is a classic cycling jersey. Hence the question: why did Supreme choose a cycling brand as the first collaboration of SS19?
The answer is to be sought in the recent past and in the future: the season Spring/Summer 2018 saw the trend of cycling take back foot, the classic bike shorts have entered the world of women's fashion ending on the catwalks of Off-White and Saint Laurent for example, as well as the huge and colorful classic cycling glasses (wrap around), are back at being a must-have. Already in the SS18 collection Supreme had launched a collaboration with the American brand Fox Racing, which produces sports apparel mainly for motocross that went obviously sold out. For this SS19 the NY-based brand went for a risky choice but this time with one of the historical brands that produce cycling apparel, the Italian Castelli Cycling. The idea is to relaunch a trend that has never really gone away and that has always had a hardcore fan base, the heritage linked to the historical jerseys of Italian cycling. Fetishism towards cycling jerseys, especially vintage, is very high, just go to any market or vintage shop to understand it. Obviously, the issue of Made in Italy plays a fundamental role, which has always recalled an imaginary of incomparable quality and beauty that will play in favor of the operation. Supreme will be a bridge, from the niche of enthusiasts to the masses, we'll see how it will go even if we bet that this will be sold out. To understand something more, we wanted to tell you the story of the Italian brand that has been considered one of the most famous cyclist brands in the world for more than 100 years. This is the story of Castelli Cycling:


1876 - Vittore Gianni's shop

To tell the story of Castelli Cycling we must go back to 1876 when a tailor named Vittore Gianni opened a small shop in Milan. Gianni made by hand the clothes for the Milan businessmen, for the Milanese ballet, for AC Milan and Juventus. The first connection with cycling came thanks to Alfredo Binda, "the lord of the mountain", 5 times Giro d'Italia winner between 1922 and 1936, three-time world champion and a loyal customer of Gianni's shop.


1935 - The Breakthrough: the arrival of Armando Castelli 

The breakthrough came in 1935 when a young man named Armando Castelli joined Gianni's team. Castelli was an extremely brilliant boy, full of ideas, ambitious and determined to the point of taking over the company for which he worked in 1939. Castelli's great ability was also to keep the elite customers that in the years Gianni had managed to create and that in the 40s also included two true heroes of cycling of all time: Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. Coppi, 5 times Giro d'Italia winner, and twice Tour de France winner, chose Castelli as his personal tailor with a new wardrobe every day.


1948/1953 - The spread to the pro team

If for 40 years Gianni Vittore had produced only a few garments customized for some cyclists, Castelli expanded its production by supplying entire teams of professional cyclists. Smart move both from an economic and marketing point of view. In the following years, the greatest names of cycling at the time such as Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil wore Castelli garments, which at the time were not marked with the company name. It is said that Anquetil was the first to wear a silk shirt produced by Armando. 1948 was an important year: Maurizio, son of Armando, was born. From an early age, he immediately fell in love with the world of cycling and the creation and production of sportswear. Maurizio was a very promising junior cyclist but he had to abandon the competitive activity due to a bad hip injury. When he was not training he would watch very carefully his father's work carving secrets and developing special attention to excellence and attention to detail.


1974 - The birth of Castelli as we know it today

Often tradition and innovation do not get along very well. In fact, at the beginning of the '70s, the relationship between Maurizio and his father Armando was not exactly idyllic: the father's traditional methods met very hard with the great creativity of his son combined with a constant idea of progress, innovation, and research. And in 1974 Armando chose to abandon his father and gave life to his own company that he called Castelli, introducing the logo that characterizes the brand still today: the scorpion.


1977 - Innovation and research

The innovative ideas of Maurizio and the constant research led Castelli to introduce new and revolutionary material for the manufacture of shorts used in racing but at the time mainly used by skiers: Lycra®.
The idea proved to be absolutely winning. The cyclists were lining up at the Milan shop to grab a pair of those revolutionary shorts that were also sold to the public and achieved success without precedents. On the wave of Lycra® trousers, Maurizio continued to focus for more than 30 years on the development and innovation of what will be defined as modern cycling clothing. Eddy Merckx, nicknamed "the cannibal" wore a redefined version of the Castelli body when he set the time record.


1981/1989 - The color, the windbreaker, and the thermal clothing

Maurizio Castelli was a true pioneer of cycling apparel and in 1981 he introduced the sublimation dye so he could have colors, logos, and graphics on a technical fabric, changing forever the history of cycling and sponsors that invested more and more money in this sport. Around that year, Castelli runners showed up with turquoise shorts, but since the only color allowed by the organization was black, the cyclists had to take them off. The media followed the fun side of the episode but at the same time it was a huge resonance box for Castelli and the visibility of the brand became enormous. In 1983 Castelli was the first company to use sublimation technology even for sweaters managing to print graphics, sponsors, etc. directly on the fabric. Bernard Hinault was the first to wear a Castelli windbreaker jersey when he triumphed in the classic "Freccia Vallone" in 1983, while in 1984 Francesco Moser was the first to wear thermal clothing during Paris-Roubaix.


1995 - The passing of Maurizio

At the age of 47, Maurizio Castelli died of a heart attack while he was on the "Cipressa" climb, the historic stretch of one of the most famous races in Italy, the Milan-Sanremo.


1996 - Women's cycling and Paola Pezzo

The pioneering philosophy of Maurizio continued to permeate the company that in 1996, during the Olympic Games in Atlanta, wore the mountain bike Olympic gold medal, Paola Pezzo who wore the first completely aerodynamic body in the history of cycling and in the same year Castelli launched the first women's cycling collection.


1999 - The return to pro cycling

Castelli made his comeback in professional cycling in 1999, dressing the pro team ONCE who saw among his column cyclists like Laurent Jalabert and Carlos Sastre.


2007 to the present day - The revolution of racing garments

From 2007 to the present day, Castelli has offered a series of technological innovations that will give the company yet another momentum. Here comes the Aero Race Jersey, the lightest cycling jersey ever produced in professional cycling; in 2009 it reinvented the racing shorts by creating them with just one piece of fabric with several integrated and seamless components; in 2010 Castelli became the first brand to bring nanotechnology in cycling with NanoFlex, a water repellent fabric that repels water without limiting breathability; in 2012 Ryder Hesjedal won Giro d'Italia wearing the most advanced time trial body in the world: the Body Paint 3.0 speed suit and in 2017, Castelli became the main sponsor of Team Sky.

Thanks to this collaboration, we had the opportunity to tell one of the longest long-lived stories of Italian sports, that of a small shop in Milan that has become one of the most important brands in the world of sportswear and is now ready to make the big leap in the world streetwear.