Photographer: Donalrey Nieva
Model: Karen Yung
Writing & Art Direction: Zoë Leverant
It’s hard to recall the last time I met a guy as excited about women’s cycling apparel as Richard Vibert from Svelte Cycles. The London-based line had just closed a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch their first collection, and while Richard acknowledged that “we make men’s stuff, too”, all he seemed to want to talk about was their women’s range. Clearly, we had a lot in common — including the unfortunate reality of living in huge cities where good riding takes a frustratingly long time to get to.
In Brooklyn our solution to this problem is Prospect Park. Cyclists here have a conflicted relationship with its leafy 3.7 mile loop, a routine so familiar it challenges even the strongest PMA. But we ride it almost daily, week after week, because it’s the best way to train when you don’t have half a day to spare. That makes it the perfect way to try out Svelte’s line, which has an eclectic look at home in an urban environment.
The Heritage jersey comes in three jewel tones and is made in London from a lightweight Danish merino blend that’s breathable, functional, and less itchy than many merino blends. Thanks to minimal branding the jersey could pass for a t-shirt at first glance, making it an ideal base piece for either a new or existing kit wardrobe. The pockets are big and easy to access, and an additional loop button pocket with vintage-inspired hardware adds distinctive style. Curvier riders may find themselves in between sizes, as the shoulders are cut a bit narrow.
The range shines brightest in its bibs. Or darkest, maybe, since these are a rich navy blue. With flatlock seams in the shorts and a comfortable chamois, the bibs are good for short rides like park laps and hold up well for longer ones, too. The straps are so lightweight and soft it’s easy to forget they’re there, and a rear reflective element expands functionality for dark training rides common on short fall and winter days. Some riders will find the elastic leg grippers a drawback, though, so we would love to see a power band added as the line grows. A pink-free, solid navy option would be even better.
Svelte doesn’t make socks (yet), but their arm warmer game is strong. Six bold prints are available in addition to two solids, and while we like them all, our favorite is the botanical; it’s eye-catching but still blends well with the other kit elements. There’s a glut of botanical print cycling apparel on the market right now, and this one offers something new. It’s also fun to look at while sipping post-ride coffee at Milk Bar, an essential stop on the way home from the park.
Riders who want an expressive twist on classic styling will enjoy what Svelte offers. For a more design-oriented brand the price point is approachable, especially considering the kit is 100% made in Europe and produced primarily in central London. We would especially recommend the line to newer cyclists who are building a wardrobe, although seasoned riders will appreciate the unusual colorways. There’s room to grow here, too: synthetic jerseys featuring the existing arm warmer prints would make a great addition, as would bolder merino jerseys similar to some of their men’s options. We look forward to seeing where Svelte goes next.