We believe Australia's cycling kit industry is the best in the world. We are spoilt with so many great brands producing quality kits. We wanted to run a campaign highlighting just how much passion and talent there is behind the Aussie kit industry so we reached out to some of the top quality people behind the brands to find out what makes them tick.
Day 2 of Aussie kit week features John Polson from Black Sheep. This Queensland brand has grown incredibly fast in a short period.
What is the design philosophy behind your kits? Black Sheep Cycling's design philosophy is something that is always evolving and continually maturing. We have a very diverse range stretching from the fun to occasionally eccentric Limited Release range, to the scaled back minimalism of the Essentials – Team Collection. Despite these differences, there are consistencies we always use from a technical perspective, and an overriding process of always designing against a theme. Colour palettes and storytelling lead everything we do. Our inspiration and theme are essential – this ultimately lets us tell a story not just through our artwork, but in the accompanying words we write and imagery we create. We want people to feel as close wearing our designs as we did when we crafted them.
What do you want people to think when they see your kits? The aesthetic of Black Sheep Cycling is driven just as much by the garment itself as it is the artwork we produce. I learned a very important lesson as I was coming up through the industry as a Clothing Designer – 'the key to designing a garment is to develop a signature pattern or template where someone, 200 meters down the road with the logo out of sight, recognises that as your product. These are words that have stayed with me since and drive all of the development we do'.
When people see a Black Sheep kit, I hope they recognise that they're unique, individual and confident. I appreciate our style is not for everyone, all the time, but that is also a very deliberate decision. There are far too many clothing brands, inside and outside of cycling, that produce garments identical within their own range, or simply replications of countless other brands that have gone before.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your kits? To be honest, as long as we create a garment that is high in function, form and style. That is beautiful. I want our customers to feel whatever they want to feel. We are unapologetic when it comes to inclusiveness. Regardless of what level of rider you are, we, in some way, want to foster the beauty of cycling within. If we can do that with our product on your back, then great. If we can do that in the content we produce and the stories we craft, then even better.
How do you feel when you see people riding in your kits? It's pretty incredible the feeling you get when you see something you created being worn by someone you have never met. I hope that feeling never leaves. Black Sheep is obviously a lot bigger now than when we first started this crazy journey, and I now have an exceptionally talented creative and operations team that is as involved, if not more involved in product releases, than I am. It's fantastic to see that same excitement, that same pride on their faces when seeing things they have created out there in the community.
What were you doing before starting Black Sheep? It's a long story. Before Black Sheep Cycling I was Head Designer at another Australian sports apparel manufacturer. I worked my way up through the business, starting off in research, then garment development, learning skill-sets in both manufacturing and graphic design along the way. All of this was combined with a fledgling career as a Professional Triathlete where I was competing on the US circuit for a number of years. Unfortunately, to minimise the amount of people that lose their mind that a triathlete is running a well-known cycling brand, I keep that to myself!
Read our reviews of Black Sheep kits:
Want to learn more about Black Sheep? Check out our Weekly Rider with John Polson