Kit Design: Johnny Hsu
Interview with Johnny Hsu by Tayler Rae Dubé
What makes a good kit?
Basically, get over 300 likes on WTFKit then it’s good. Ha. Well, I basically decide if a kit is good by asking myself "Would wear the kit and not feel like a dumb ass wearing it?” It’s exciting to see how design is being more involved in cycling but like anything else, it’ll come with a lot of garbage. Most of the kits I think is good are the ones that show restraint. It’s fun to have crazy kits and there’s always a time and place for it, but kits that are simple and refined are the ones that become quintessential classics.
What challenges do you face that are unique to designing a kit?
The whole kit is challenging to design! You have awkward panel shapes, skin tight spandex, chamois that you have to design around, random pockets on your back, etc etc. list can go on. But this is what makes it fun to design a kit. A kit is basically a saran warp for your body and you have to visually figure out how you can wrap that design around a body and still make it look great.
You were one of the first people to create a floral kit for TYC in 2014 and now floral kits are everywhere! What inspired this design and did you expect it to be such a success?
Ha, I never expected the great 2014 Floral Revolution. TYC wasn’t the first kit to have floral, but I think with the help of the internet, it became very popular. It was all a joke for me. Cassidy (who started TYC) sent me a image of an model in a Tom Ford’s suit. Completely decked out in floral. A little hideous so I tired to design something a little bit more subtle. I thought people would hate it, just like you hate those bros wearing floral dress shirts at a Euro dance club or something. But whatever, people will like the strangest things.
You also designed the kit for the Fifth Floor Team which has a more sporty/futuristic feel to it. Do you pull your inspirations from anywhere outside of cycling? If so where?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, especially through print and textile design. I try to avoid looking at other kits or anything bike related when I design. It’s too easy to unknowingly copy someone’s kits.