Le Col by Wiggins
The Next Chapter
The UK is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave, the England football team are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup and the strawberries and cream are out at Wimbledon. Away from the sun soaked beaches, lion emblazoned shirts and Centre Court antics, a discrete figure, wearing dark shades, sits on the phone outside a bar in the heart of Soho. Set against the hustle and bustle of city commuters and tourists, no one even bats an eyelid at this knight of the realm, let alone recognises one of Britain’s most decorated sportsmen. Keeping a low profile, it’s how Sir Bradley Wiggins likes to roll.
Bar Italia is a quaint Italian run establishment located on Firth Street, a stone's throw from Tottenham Court Road and opposite the famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Established over 40 years ago, the bar is quintessentially Italian, with everything from the original floor tiles to the Gaggia coffee machine being both authentic and steeped in history. This authenticity is what drew a young Wiggins to the cafe as a child and brings him back, full circle, for our interview today.
As a professional athlete, interviews are often tailored towards performances, goals and what differentiates these sportsmen and women from the everyday punter. This was the score, up to recently, when it came to interviewing Brad. Since announcing his retirement, on 28th December 2016, his focus has shifted. As we sit down to talk, this is a more relaxed Sir Wiggins and one that is clearly enjoying his new collaboration with Le Col. The shift from racing to helping design cycling kit is one the Kilburn born and bred cyclist is relishing.
Joining Brad for the interview is Yanto Barker; the founder of Le Col has a lot in common with his collaborator. A former professional cyclist, Yanto forged a glittering career in Britain. Just like Brad, the 38-year-old has retired from racing but still has a burning passion for the sport.
The two men are not just linked by their love for cycling, this relationship stems back to both men’s first pedal revolutions in the sport. As juniors, they raced together both on home soil and in the racing heartland, Belgium. Sharing an apartment in their late teens, Yanto and Brad’s paths soon went separate ways, with Yanto moving to race in France and Brad concentrating on his track career, which would later see him crowned Olympic and World track champion as well as a Tour de France winner.
Fast forward 20 years and their paths are now both firmly going in the same direction. With the launch of the Le Col By Wiggins Limited Edition Collection, the two former pros are using their extensive experience, style conscious outlook and forward thinking take on the sport to design kit that is authentic, distinctive and most definitely British.
Inspired by over two decades in the sport, Wiggins’ love of retro jerseys, a childhood fascination with style icons of the day such as Sean Yates, and clear vision as to what he likes when it comes to kit has resulted in a truly unique collection. A common theme throughout the collection is the use of gold, a colour that has defined Brad’s career and has made him a household name.
His love of the understated jerseys that littered the professional peloton in days gone by has also clearly influenced the collection. While the decision to embroider the Wiggins logo and to produce the kit in Italy adds to the story. Excited about new projects and harking back to the legacy Wiggins has left in the sport, this is no flash in the pan for the two men, this is just the start.
Part of this eclectic collection is the Sigma Sports jersey. Comprising of just 100 garments, the jersey uses design cues that stem from the garment Wiggins raced in for a brief spell in 2001. With the Linda McCartney Team folding, Wiggins was without a ride, and Sigma Sports founders, Ian and Jason, provided him with the support to get back racing. This gesture has been repaid in 2018, with Brad now putting his name to a truly breathtaking garment.
Interwoven, the relationship between Yanto and Brad has gone full circle and the same can be said for the former Tour winner and Sigma Sports. This homecoming for Wiggins was never more so apparent than in the summer of 2012, when the nation was gripped by The London Olympics and Wiggins was flying high off the back of a series of gold medals on the track.
Away from the boards, the time trial was a clear focus for Brad, and he didn’t disappoint, taking the win and adding another gold medal to his collection. Asking him about the race itself, Brad became animated as he recalled the ride across Kingston Bridge, the tight turn at the roundabout and re-accelerating out, past the Sigma Sports store. ‘‘Goosebumps’’ as a sea of noise greeted the Olympic champion as he sped through the streets of Hampton Wick. For Brad this is one memory that will last a lifetime and one we are proud we could play a small part in.
Starting their careers at about the same time Sigma Sports first opened its doors, the three parties have taken different paths along the way but for 2018 are back, firmly focused on the same goals, with a love of cycling underpinning everything they do.