On show: Interbike 2009 Part 13

Pearl Izumi announced the launch of a new and improved custom apparel program last week at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company stopped its previous custom clothing program in 2001. The new digital sublimation program is in its infancy, but has already produced a full range of custom clothing for the Garmin-Slipstream team this year.

Custom manager Mike Regan explained that the program has opened its doors to the public, but is starting small and requiring high minimum orders to ensure that the product is delivered on-time and with high quality control.

"What we're trying to do at this point is under-promise and over-deliver. We were going to roll this out last year at the show, and we kept it on the back burner for an entire year.

"We, stopped, came back and did a whole year of stress-testing and rolled out aspects such as the 25-piece minimum so we can be absolutely sure we can do it 100 percent."

That "stress-testing" included outfitting the Garmin-Slipstream team with some 50 different custom items, including five different national championship jerseys.

The custom line will allow the public access to the same advanced technical clothing used by Garmin-Slipstream sublimated. The line includes jerseys in men's and women's styles in several different fits: relaxed, form fit and semi-form fit as well as the "Aero" European form fit and lightweight, mesh paneled "Climber" jersey developed for the ProTour team. Shorts and bibshorts also come in regular and Aero versions.

Not available to the public is the special Garmin-Slipstream speed suit which Regan said "is specifically measured and cut for each rider, and is out of the price range of mere mortals."

Pearl Izumi's custom line also offers a full spectrum of rain and winter gear, accessories and triathlon clothing to make up 72 different line items in the catalog.

However, the 25 piece minimum per item - an Aero bibshort would be considered separately from a regular bibshort - and a $5,000 minimum order would be cost-prohibitive for all but the largest club.

Regan emphasized that the company is not focusing on kicking off with a huge list of customers from the outset, and are most concerned with providing a well-made custom product for dealers which carry Pearl Izumi's in-line clothing.

"Almost all of our retailers do a shop jersey, and by not having a custom product, they had to go to someone else to get them made," said Regan, adding that the program may expand over time but will only ever be run at a capacity which will not affect the quality or delivery times for the line.

"We have a double-edged sword with Pearl Izumi - if we did our custom program like some other companies do - promising quick turn-around at low cost without regard to quality - we'd not only lose custom business, we'd lose in-line business.

"At this point we can't target a club of 12 people. The goal is to get there, but first and foremost our goal is to take care of our retailers and the clubs that they support.

"We want to go out and be excecutionally perfect. The minimums are higher, but we want to make sure that we're perfect first and deliver on time rather than tell you that it's quicker and not deliver."

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