At La Velocita we love talking to people that make cycling better. Over the last 18 months I’ve got to know Damian Hancock and Nancy De Losa.
They are the passionate husband and wife team behind Melbourne based brand a’qto. I caught up with them at this year's Audax Alpine Classic to talk about what’s next.
Words - Mike Boudrie Images - Andrew Clifforth
Damian is the creative influence at a’qto. As I talk with him it’s clear that he’s listening to each and every word, refreshing in a world which is full of distractions. His manor is relaxed, there’s thought in everything that he says, and it’s clear as he shows me his collection of kit and casual clothes that each piece has been carefully thought about. He’s unassuming, does not judge and is not there to force a sale.
Chatting more to Damian, he shows me his collection of vintage Italian cycling jerseys and caps. There’s a change in his demeanour as he tells me the story behind each one. Each jersey is far more than a piece of clothing to him. Each one has it’s own story, memory and special place… his passion is genuine. As I look through a rack of his designs from the last couple of years I notice how all Damian’s designs are all quite different, but with all picking up elements of those classic pieces. At the same time they all work together... It’s great to see this, and provides riders with a great opportunity to mix and match their kits while still looking great on the bikes.
Damian then moves on to telling me about a'qto's upcoming ‘Bici e Gusti’ cycling trip in Gippsland and is similarly animated about the menu he’s been working on. I’ll be joining Damian and Nancy for this trip and can’t wait to head out of Melbourne for the experience.
Bici e Gusti is the next part of the journey for Nancy and Damian. They are branching into providing high quality, boutique, cycling trips. I headed away with them this time last year for the first ‘test’ trip in Gippsland, to say it was an adventure was something of an understatement. It was a weekend of virtually unknown roads, great company, fantastic food and accommodation. I can best sum it up as feeling like I was a guest in their home rather than a paying customer on a holiday...
It’s passion like this that I just love. People that are really out there to share what they love. The reason I love to ride.
Of course a’qto is primarily about clothing. There’s every chance you have seen and maybe even worn an a’qto kit without even realising. A’qto provide their Italian made kit and casual clothing to individuals, teams, clubs, corporates and events across Australia. I’d describe Damian’s designs as classic with the odd exception. His use of bold colour, clean lines will appeal to a broad range of tastes and stands out from the crowd without being loud. Something easier said than done.
My own morning bunch had their kit put together by Damian and Nancy over 12 months ago. My kit has been through the wash more times than I want to think about and endured some pretty nasty conditions. It’s still pretty much the same as when it came out of the packet. Also they managed to cater for 40 riders with the fit working well for just about everyone.
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next from a’qto. There’s new kit on the way, more Bici e Gusti trips, including an option to head over to Italy to ride in the world famous L’Eroica in October this year and the promise of working with a brand that values personal relationships above all else.
Check out a’qto at www.aqtocycling.com