Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Campagnolo's Clothing Line Finally Collapses Under Its Own Weight

Back in 2003, Campagnolo, which had a storied history in the design and manufacture of bicycle parts, decided to launch a new business ... making bicycle clothing. Readers of this blog and our web site (www.campyonly.com) know that we were openly skeptical of Campagnolo's decision from the beginning.

Really exciting clothing. Not.
Our complaints were many: The clothing was expensive, and despite Campagnolo's many marketing claims, basically duplicated what was available from any number of other manufacturers (Assos, Pearl Izumi, the list goes on). Campagnolo entered a crowded marketplace with a product that did little to differentiate itself from the competition. Adding to the problem was that fact that the stuff was rather boring. Plain-looking jerseys, plain-looking shorts, plain-looking jackets ... was this the best that Italian design could produce?

On top of that, Campagnolo's clothing was hard to find. Campy Only stops in at bike shops everywhere we go, and we can count on one hand the number of shops in the USA where Campagnolo clothing was actually hanging on racks available for purchase in the past nine years.

Finally, Campagnolo combined the launch of their clothing line with a simultaneous crackdown on other manufacturers offering bicycle clothing with the Campagnolo logo and images on it. The upshot was that fans who wanted to show their pride in Campagnolo had one choice: Campagnolo's own overpriced stuff (if they could find it). Back when this was happening, we suggested on the web site that Campagnolo should look to the example of another storied company with a long history on which to base strong user support: Harley Davidson. Ride a Harley, and you have innumerable ways to show that pride. That's how you build a stronger brand, not by hoarding the logo in your own walled garden and charging exorbitant rates to get in.

So ... the news that Campagnolo is killing off this almost decade-long disaster won't bring any tears here at Campy Only. Let's hope that they take the energy that was put into designing next year's socks and devote it to improving the product line that really matters. And maybe they'll decide again to market the logo to a clothing company (or companies) that already know what they're doing in that world. Maybe.

We're interested in your comments. Please use the comment feature below to let us know what you think.



  1. Maybe Pace will go back to offering Campy logo T-Shirts again? I stocked up on shirts from Nashbar and a few others when I heard the news you reported in '03. And you're right, their stuff was expensive and boring. A retro Molteni jersey looks way more exciting than any clothing line out of Vicenza. Campy should stick with their roots and continue making the best components on the planet.

  2. Sad to hear this, I have acquired a few items of Campagnolo clothing over the years - a couple of pairs of shorts (not quite Assos/Castelli quality but good for the price), a rain jacket (not brilliant but ideal for summer showers, it packs up very small) and a really nice jersey in black with the old "globe" logo (very stylish and the best-fitting jersey I have).

    The problem I found with them was the range was far too large and they changed it every year - for instance, I've never seen anywhere sell a jersey like I had, and it's not difficult to find places that sell them here in the UK. They should have concentrated the range they had into maybe a third of what it was (or less), and had some continuity from year to year (like Assos do).

  3. That's a real shame, Campag have made some really good clothes over the years....their Metal series bibshorts were easily the most comfortable shorts I've ever worn and were long lasting too. Their jackets were elegant and I love my Heritage wool jerseys.....yes they made some dull and ugly stuff, particularly recently but I just stuck to buying the stuff I liked

  4. Its quite sad to know about this. I have used Campagnolo's product and Illest Clothing. Though it stopped but the durability of their clothing is fantastic. I just hope they can get back in the market and will improve their product line.

  5. Larry thinks it was a good idea but the execution was poor. The entire "fashion" thing is sort of anti-Campagnolo in a fundamental way. The first, classic-styled stuff was pretty nice but they had nowhere to go from there. Kind of like a great chef writing his first cookbook. The next book ends up with the recipes that were not good enough to make the first one! Perhaps they'll revisit the licensing idea? Licensing the brand name to be used only on high quality clothing products could end up bringing in more revenue than their own clothing line, while still leaving them control so the revered name is not applied to junk. (Disclaimer: Campagnolo is an official supplier to CycleItalia)

  6. Campagnolo is a WEIRD business company. In how it chooses to route its way. As there are cyclists who choose to wear/use 'short sleeve Base Layer' in colder weather. And wear arm warmers as an extension, if needed. If most of all, the jacket over the jersey that being over the base layer.
    There are those in the summer that may want to use the Long Sleeve as a way to block the U.V. layers; as those riders not have the body fat like the typical citizen. As that cyclist has no worry about excessive sweat.