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The development and manufacturing of cycling apparel is something that is often taken for granted. The ease of accessing manufacturing facilities to produce “branded” clothing has taken away from true development and innovation. Our concepts are our own, our garment designs are our own, and our garment patterns have not only been developed by us, but are constantly refined by us.

 
“We pride ourselves not only on designing, developing and producing the very best cycling apparel possible but creating a garment which inspires those we adorn.”
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THE SKETCH.

The design sketch is part of the brainstorming process, where our idea or concept is finally put on paper. As you can see it is still rough, but largely to scale and takes into consideration all the requirements of the garment. The final drawing includes detail such as type of seam finishes, proposed fabrics, and some finer measurements. We have eliminated some of the finer details so we can keep those secret!

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MATERIAL SOURCING.

This is an overwhelming task. Despite being proudly Australian and with a desire to support local fabric mills, we instinctively gravitate towards Italian fabrics due to their proven track record. That being said, the development coming from countries such as Australia, Taiwan and China have made this decision a lot more difficult. The majority of fabrics we use at Black Sheep are from Italy, with our chamois originating from China. We make no hesitation about this fact; it was simply the best one we tested. Our current library of fabrics is substantial but very necessary to achieving a premium product.

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“We have developed an outfit for the team that is not only exclusive to them, it represents them.”
 
 

THE PATTERN PROCESS.

In order to translate the Design Drawing into a garment, a pattern has to be produced. Simply put, but by no means giving credit to this fine art, a Pattern Maker converts a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional garment by creating individual panel pieces. The Pattern Maker has to take into consideration the stretch and recovery of a fabric, it’s shrinkage, and of course has to grade the pattern to sizing. At Black Sheep our Pattern Maker refines our garment, meticulously working on angles and measurements to achieve the very best fit and function.

SAMPLING.

Once we have finalised our garment, we then go into sampling. This involves the cutting of fabric according to the pattern files we have developed, then put together with our stipulated finishing such as stitch type, hem types, and binding. We are now ready to test.

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One of the unique aspects of Black Sheep Cycling is our distinctive style. Our simple aim is to incorporate our own fashion into cycling apparel.”
 
 

THE GRAPHICS.

All our graphic art is again done by Black Sheep designers. Using a combination of graphic art suites, we create artwork in vector form, which we then translate over to our garment templates.

The Men of Steel kit is our tribute to Melbourne and Victoria – from where most of the team hail. Is it the vertical roads of the Dandenongs or the labyrinth streets of Fitzroy? It’s neither. These contour lines are representative of anywhere in the city. Imagine steep climbs portrayed by lines compressed together, or the wide, rolling hills symbolised by the contours that are generously separated. The roots of this design articulate why we love cycling in this great Australian state.

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MANUFACTURING & ASSEMBLY.

All our manufacturing, from printing, pressing, cutting and sewing is done offshore in China. Again, we make no secret of this. For us to use the premium fabrics we have selected, put together using some very advanced construction techniques, we have had to make this decision.

 

Our team in China is highly skilled and very experienced and have been a vital part in helping make Black Sheep what it is today. To be able to use the graphic art that we are known for, we use what is known as sublimation. Here, our graphic designs are printed on to sheets of paper using high-quality dyes. This then goes through a heat press at around 200 degrees, where the ink on the paper is sublimated into the fabric. From here, the fabric is cut into the specific panels according to our Pattern.

 

Finally, the garment is sewn together using a range of stitches such as flatlocking, overlocking, and twin needle. This requires a section to itself, but each stitch has a very specific use in relation to the cycling kit.

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“We aim to stretch the boundaries a little, but always with a sense of class and elegance.”
 
 

FINISHING TOUCHES.

When the garment is completed, it undergoes a quality control check to ensure each garment meets our high expectations. Once approved, the Black Sheep garment is ready for delivery. We pride ourselves in what we have created and how we create it.

 

As you have no doubt realised, this is an extremely complex and detailed process. A process that we believe we are good at and that we absolutely love.

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“We understand that not everyone will love our art or love all of our styles, but that’s ok, that’s fashion.”

 

MEN OF STEEL