Style, Performance and Individuality from New UK Based Online Store OMNIUM
I met Claire Pepper on a Bike Ride with Brunch organised by Queen of the Mountains and was excited to hear of her plans to launch OMNIUM a brand new, UK based, online store bringing together some previously hard-to-buy or as yet undiscovered cycling apparel from independent designers. Their focus is high performance road cycling kit and accessories, bringing together lots of smaller brands who are doing really interesting stuff and making them more accessible, especially to the UK market.
Claire’s background is photography, specialising in fashion and sportswear in e-commerce, and as a runner, cyclist and triathlete, she found women’s cycling clothing to be much more limited in terms of choice than the rest of the active wear market and decided to do something about it! With her partner Jonathan, a creative director and active racer for Dulwich Paragon, they have launched OMNIUM.
Most of the OMNIUM brands are small companies with a bit of a cult following, and until now some have been hard to get hold of in the UK. OMNIUM solves the problems of buying internationally such as customs charges and complicated returns!
The products are stylish, high performance, individual brands which will only be stocked in limited runs, keeping the offering of fresh and current items in-demand.
Starting with 7 brands and with 2 more coming soon, the selection comprises mostly of men’s and women’s jerseys, shorts, socks and caps. There are some eye-catching full kits from Minneapolis brand Twin Six and graphic-patterned base layers from Good Cycling, a brand from the Netherlands. One of the most popular items is a cap by Canadian brand Forward, which features a pair of cat-eyes on the underside of the peak.
Well worth taking a look if you would like to stand out from the crowd this summer!
- Twin Six – USA – men’s & women’s jerseys with matching shorts, caps, socks, bidons
- Angeles Creative – USA – men’s and women’s jerseys, high performance and distinctive
- Queen of the Mountains – UK – high performance women’s jerseys, shorts and caps
- Forward – Canada – women’s jerseys and caps, fun, playful designs
- God & Famous – USA – caps and socks (apparel coming soon) urban styling
- The Wonderful Socks – Italy – socks and caps, Italian craft heritage with quirky designs
- Good Cycling – The Netherlands – men’s and women’s jerseys, base layers and gilets
WEBSITE : weareomnium.cc
“You should buy this kit; it’s called Fat Lad at the Back”
“These shorts would be great for you; they are called Fat Lass at the Back”
“This top would suit you; you can buy it from Fat Lad at the Back”
People of all shapes and sizes often ask me for kit recommendations, but I am not sure if I can say any of those sentences out loud without losing friends, clients or offending someone!
Fat Lad at The Back was the nickname of Richard Bye, the founder of the company, and is a term of endearment. The company admit it is a touchy subject having the marmite effect – either you love it or hate it, but they bravely persevered.
Fat Lad at the Back (FLAB) is a sportswear brand born in Yorkshire, with the clothing manufactured by a family-run company in Italy. The Fat Lad brand was originally created for what their website calls “Mr Averages, MAMIL’s with a 44” chest and a 38” waist”, but it quickly became apparent that there were bigger cyclists so it introduced larger sizes including a Spare Tyre range for the larger build. A women’s range was soon created, which took into consideration women’s curves and comfort.
A Twitter conversation the morning of The London Bike Show suggested I should speak to FLAB at the show after a discussion about the lack of kit for women who are not “a flat chested size 8-12” with one rider asking “how can these new brands be “women’s” when the biggest chest size they do it a 14” and another saying “it is a huge barrier to women coming into the sport”.
I spoke to several designers of women’s cycling clothing at the show and did indeed find the largest size, called XL, was only a UK14-16. One designer I spoke with said unfortunately they just can justify the additional expenses needed to design, produce and hold stock of the larger sizes which are less popular.
Instead of just sizing up the clothing the FLAB garments have been redesigned so they properly fit and flatter different sizes of rider. Some items state the name boldly in large text across the garments, other are more subtle with just a small logo. I have to confess that having ‘Fat Lass at the Back’ across my bottom was a great training inspiration as I pedalled furiously to disprove the label!
I tried the Flabularse Shorts (RRP £49.99) and the short sleeved ladies Lanterne Rouge Jersey (RRP 49.99) both available from size 8 to size 26.
The shorts fitted well and had some nice details including a draw string for the waist and a soft stretchy panel across the tummy allowing you to pull them right up over the belly area. I normally wear bib shorts and think generally bibs are more flattering with smoother lines, but agree shorts certainly make toilet stops easier and mean there is no need to remove a jersey, which some riders may feel self-conscious about, especially if having to go al fresco! Unfortunately as there was no knot tied in the draw string it had been lost in the waistband prior to me wearing, but with a bit of fiddling I retrieved it. The shorts are black with flattering seams, a large logo on the leg and across the lower back. The pad was comfortable on long road rides, the mountain bike and on the turbo.
The jersey is noticeably longer than my other jerseys, this is great for us ladies who like to pull things down over our hips and bottom and there is certainly no chance of any bare flesh when standing upright. The colour changes gradually down the top with the darker, more flattering colours over the lower torso and brighter colours across the bust and shoulders drawing the eye away from the areas we are usually more self conscious about. The sleeves are loose and long with no restrictive bands. A zipped pocket is handy for your valuables and a full length zip is always a plus in jerseys of this price range.
Both items washed well and I would happily recommend them if I could find a polite way of doing so!
Fat Lad at The Back has become a community, not just a brand, with riders involved in the development of new products and social media filled with riders’ photos, comments and inspirational rides. The company encourages everyone to have a go, have fun and enjoy their sport.
When former rugby player Alastair Little was forced to cut his 25-year career short after a life-changing neck injury, he was devastated and soon piled on weight as his life spiralled towards depression. He managed to turn his life around after discovering a love for cycling. Riding with friends at Fat Lad at the Back, Alastair took to the road and after a few months he started to see the results, losing more than five stone and dramatically boosting his confidence.
Alastair said: “It was the motivation and help I received from the guys at FLAB which really inspired me to stick at it and lose the weight and not only that, I enjoyed the social aspect to cycling, and suddenly sport was bringing me back to life again.”
FLAB introduced Alastair to other, likeminded riders who taught him that he wasn’t alone.
FLAB Sportive – 8th May 2016
In a bid to further welcome novice cyclists, FLAB has introduced a new 25-mile event alongside its 50 and 75-mile distance sportives, taking place on the Yorkshire roads in May and in the Chiltern Hills in October. Looking after riders will be experienced FLAMbassadors riding in the sportives to encourage and support riders on the journey.
Fat Lad in Charge Richard Bye, who has 20 years’ experience cycling many of Yorkshire’s most recognised routes, said: “This year we have added a 25 miler as we hope to inspire some new riders who may fancy a sportive, but have never thought they could!”
“The food stops are also legendary and include black pudding scotch eggs and lots of other stuff which our fat Lads and Lasses like, as well as the usual fruit and flapjack based options. We also have a BBQ afterwards which went down really well last year, this means people hang about and chat and share rather than just getting in their cars and leaving.”
Richard went on to say “Since founding FLAB we have been overwhelmed by how many people have come to us saying how much confidence they’ve gained with our support”
You can enter the sportive here and can find FLAB on the web http://fatladattheback.com/ on Facebook and on Twitter
….Well maybe Queen of Richmond Park!
Today I rode out with the lovely Alicia Bamford, founder of Queen of the Mountains, a new women’s performance cycling brand launching via Kickstarter.
Queen of the Mountains is building a strong community of female cyclists, with regular rides on Tuesdays in Regents Park, Thursdays in Richmond Park and a variety of Sunday rides with brunch!
This morning’s ride was super social, with everyone chatting and enjoying the winter sun. The ethos of the rides is to welcome all women (and men), of all abilities. No one is left behind and the chat continues over coffee post ride.
Information about the rides can be found on the website where you can sign up for the newsletter for regular ride updates. A longer ride is planned for Mothers Day from Giro Cafe in Esher; what a perfect way for mums to get some me time!
Alicia told me they have adventurous plans for future cycling events to inspire women to challenge themselves.
“We want to inspire women to ride and to climb their own mountain, to set their own challenge and feel that sense of achievement on the way up, as well as at the summit. We’re introducing more women to the beauty, freedom and sense of achievement that comes with cycling.”
I got a sneak preview of the Spring/Summer collection, inspired by Mont Ventoux, which is available for pre-order on the Queen of the Mountains Kickstarter page. There is only 7 days left, so act swiftly if you are keen to be one of the first to wear this stunning kit.
The first range includes beautiful, technical jerseys, shorts, gilets, socks and more, all designed for women. Manufactured in Italy, using performance technical wicking fabrics, the kit is cut specifically for the female body shape in the riding position. It has well thought out features such as a waterproof zipped jersey pocket for your smart phone and no scratchy labels!
We are hoping to get some kit to try out on a ride soon so watch this space……
You can also find Queen of the Mountains on Facebook and Twitter