What is 'retro' exactly?

What is 'retro' exactly?

March 2022

An interesting conundrum was posed recently on a ‘retro bikes’ Facebook group recently. If you’re friend of Soigneur you probably know this type of group – full of steel bikes, Campagnolo Delta brake discussions and a feast of chromed lugs to drool over.

The question posed was – “can a carbon fibre bike be considered retro?”. The reflex is to say ‘no’! But consider the classics of the late 1980s and 1990s - the Giant Cadex and the Colnago C40 to name just two – both around 30 years old – surely those can be considered ‘retro’?

The argument may never be settled, but it does raise the question between retro ‘in spirit’ and retro ‘in fact’. We think retro ‘in fact’ is 100% original and old enough to precede major technological developments still in use today. Hence mechanical not electric shifting, steel not carbon frames, toe clips not clipless.

In contrast, retro ‘in spirit’ may have newer technology, but still have enough of the older features to have the cool factor. Like great art, it’s hard to explain but you know it when you see it.

So as the world of woollen retro cycling jerseys grows, we have seen the wool jersey world split into these two camps – woollen cycling jerseys that are either retro ‘in fact’ or retro ‘in spirit’.

Where does Soigneur fit in this world? Consider the original woollen jerseys, worn and raced in many decades ago. Truth be told, these were scratchy, they sagged a bit (and a lot when it rained), and didn’t keep shape well. They look fantastic in the old photos, but just as you wouldn’t want to race in the heavy single-speed bikes of the day, you wouldn’t want to wear one of those jerseys more than you could help it. Retro ‘in fact’ sounds laudable, but reality says otherwise.

Yes, Soigneur is clearly in the retro ‘in spirit’ camp. We’ve taken the best things that wool can offer (read the list here), then added the modern touch – modern treatment and wool selection that makes the fabric smoother than cashmere; new knitting technology that makes the jerseys mould to your body and hold their shape, world class YKK zips and elasticated hems.

We think this means you get the best of both worlds – unbeaten fabric that has taken sheep millions of years to perfect (how’s that for an R&D process), combined with the latest technology to make things even better.

It’s kind of like taking a beautiful steel bike from the 1970s and putting electronic shifting onto it – the purists will scoff but the combination of style and performance would be ‘amazing’.

And ‘amazing’ is a word we like to use for our jerseys too. That’s what our customers say, and the customer is always right.

Posted: Sat 28 May 2022