By our newest contributor, James Buckroyd.
In the world of product development, this is how it usually goes: You have a great idea, you make contact with an agent in Hong Kong or Mainland China and you start in a series of negotiations. After many long e-mail chains and late-night phone calls you begin to develop a product.
Unfortunately, what gets lost in the back-and-forths with the factory are the fine details that are essential to make the product shine in an ever-demanding consumer market. As you view sample after sample from your offshore agent, you realize things aren’t as perfect as you’d like them to be.
Rewind the tape. Enter Brian Anthony of Portland-based Anthm Collective.
“Basically we wanted gear to ride in that represented the values we believe in,” he shared with us recently. “So we went out and made it.”
“If something comes up, it’s a short bike ride to see what’s going on in person as opposed to 20 hours on a plane.”
— Brian Anthony of Anthm Collective on making his jerseys in Portland.
Anthony channels his knowledge of materials and product development into a cycling jersey (and brand) that is made in Portland, where he controls the details. Anthm uses local sewing contractors which allows him to have what he says is, “Complete visibility of how our garments are being made.”
“The other great thing about using local sewing contractors is that if something comes up, it’s a short bike ride to see what’s going on in person as opposed to 20 hours on a plane,” Anthony added.
This care in development is where craft meets manufacture and it takes the best of both worlds to produce great stuff.
Along with craft, material and manufacturing excellence, Anthony has a different business strategy. For many years bike shops have struggled with apparel sales; shoppers don’t buy in-store because they see the same products with more selection and discounts online. To them, apparel became a commodity. Anthony sells directly to bike shops with a unique feel and exclusivity (via a custom-embroidered shop logo) so buyers know that they are getting something special and won’t be tempted to “Google it”.
Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts.
The Saltzman Jersey
The minimal styling and high couture vibe of this jersey immediately reminds you of a large brand founded in the UK that starts with an R. It’s difficult not to like this high-end aesthetic.
The Jersey is 60 percent polyester and 40 percent merino wool from New Zealand. That combo gives you the characteristics of wool (great heat management, moisture transfer and odor resistance), and polyester (structure to maintain shape and fit). The material is constructed so that the wool is close to the skin for comfort and polyester on the outer surface. This is different than most manufacturers and provides the benefit of less snagging and a better moisture transfer system.
The jersey I have is black and size medium. I’m 6-foot 3 with a 37-inch chest and narrow shoulders. The jersey fits me nice in length and doesn’t feel pinchy at the shoulders or neckline. The material has a nice hand feel and feels like a quality garment, not inexpensive cycling fodder. It is notably thinner than Rapha’s sport wool, which means it’s more suitable for more months in a milder climate and can be used in warmer weather where I would usually switch to a polyester jersey.
As an endurance rider, it’s important to me that garments are comfortable, fit well and have usable features as I am often on the bike for four to seven hours at a time.
Cases in point: The Saltzman has a silicon gripper strip on the rear hem and three open pockets in the back. The central pocket is deeper and the two outside ones are slightly tapered outward for easy access (a feature on some older Castelli jerseys that I really like). The jersey also has a small secure zippered pocket that is perfect for a credit card and a $20 bill. At first blush the pockets are located at a great height on the jersey (everyone hates pockets that are too high), but the test will be when I load them up with food and supplies. The neck line runs high and a flap over the zipper at the top stops it from snagging into your skin. The rest of the front is plain with a nicely embroidered logo in the same colour as the jersey — a subtle aesthetic for that high couture look found by the skinny guys in the black and white photoshoots.
On the road
With around 600 miles on this jersey I can now say I have thoroughly used it. From short to long rides and at various temperatures this jersey seems to resonate as a solid 0-70 mile jersey. It breathes well and stays a tad warmer than a polyester single layer jersey. On chillier days I could wear the jersey in the mid 50s (with a base layer) all the way up to low 70s.
This jersey stands out in two areas. First, it looks smart. It’s pretty subdued and classy looking, not adorned with tons of logos or colour breaks like most other cycling apparel. When worn with fitted shorts (not skin-tight spandex) the outfit has a refined, high-end urban look look.
The second bonus area is that you can wear it multiple times without it smelling – the benefit of wool and a well-designed mositure transfer between the layers. On its longest stretch I managed to wear it for 4 days, each day riding about 35 miles.
On the flip-side, there were a couple of downers. Personally, I like doing longer rides of 80 to 110 miles and found that for longer rides, the pockets weren’t quite designed well enough for the gear and food I had to carry. With a bit of weight in them the side pockets tend to sag off the sides and they are not quite deep enough.
The second area that was a little concerning is pilling (when tiny balls form on top of the fabric). In a short amount of time I found that the material on the front of the jersey pilled up a little, maybe because this was a prototype? Indeed. Anthony assured me this issue has been resolved on production versions.
And there are a couple of fit changes I would suggest to the folks at Anthm; one being the tail of the jersey be made shorter and possibly run the pockets 15 mm longer.
At $120 this jersey offers high value and craftsmanship, great construction and quality materials. And the fact that it’s made in Portland is a win for all of us.
See the Saltzman jersey in person at River City Bicycles in Portland or University Bicycles in Boulder, and learn more at AnthmCollective.com.
— James Buckroyd, BuckyRides.com and @jbucky1 on Instagram.
A $120 cycling jersey is a “win” ?
If it is comfortable after 60+ miles in rain then blazing sun then cold fog and then rain it is a bargain. Plus, honestly, the fact that it it not made by slaves really is nice.
+1, our cultural acceptance of offshoring slave labor is disturbing and any effort to avoid it is worth supporting. Not interested in bottom line or the fake assertion of hypocrisy in using electronics to communicate this point.
I’ve been buying bike jerseys and vests at Goodwill for years – for $6-$10 you can get jerseys that go for $50+ new. If you look regularly you’ll find good vests and even wool.
I’m always on the lookout for wool jerseys at Goodwill… they are not easy to find!
Synthetic jerseys are a dime a dozen though.
So how much of your time do you spend looking regularly?
Off and on. Cruise the Goodwills on N Lombard, SE 52nd, and NE 122nd, and you will find pretty good stuff. I haven’t found good cycling stuff (which I impulsively buy and then don’t use) lately, but I’ve found other things like $150 wool pants for $12.
Making American made cycling clothes great again. 😉
If they have a size that can fit a medium-height fat old guy like me, I want one. Will have to go to RCB soonest.
Nice writeup, James! I’ll check ’em out! Glad you found another spot to share product insights. Looking forward to more pieces that focus on local makers.
Thanks Rich. There is so much good stuff going on locally that i’m positive I will be incorporating some more PDX, Oregon and NW Vibes into future reviews. We have a hotbed of great thinkers and makers here and I’m excited about their products.
nice…are they going to make some XXL stuff for some of us that really like our beer.
I love beer and I wear a medium. 120$ is a bargain for a well made(in the USA)jersey, but there are 12$ specials at Universal Cycles if you gravitate towards garbage made in Asia. I agree about the rainwear Glenn!
We’re graded up to a 3XL in Men’s so I’m sure we’ve got your “covered”.
They need to make some rain stuff and give showerpass a run for there money..
Slightly different but related topic – I’ve been wondering how much it costs running shoe manufacturers to make a pair of running shoes over in Asia. Anyone know? They may sell for close to $100, but I’d think total material cost would be a few dollars max; and labor must be even lower. Anyone have any inside knowledge about it?
As of about five years ago Nike’s costs including shipping were about 15 percent of retail depending on which sweatshop they came from.
A few dollars is probably low by a good bit but still in the ballpark. Remember that $100 is retail. Brooks (or whoever) probably sees about half that wholesale. Then take away marketing (another BIG chunk) and the overhead of running a huge company and a low original manufacturing cost doesn’t translate into a huge margin.
Really is a great price for a local made jersey if all the fit and finish is as described. For those that don’t find it special at all to have a jersey embroidered with a bike shop’s name, it does look like a plain jersey is available on their website, anthmcollective.com
Can’t wait to buy these at next adventure for $15 – thanks for the review. Such a boon when all the hipsters willing to pay ridiculous prices for the latest fashions give up on cycling every winter.
This is kind of a self-righteous comment for a clothing review. Besides, I thought hipsters wore used clothing? Do you just mean people with money and fashionable sensibilities? I’m 42, all the hipsters I know wear Clark’s, cords and like a mustard colored v neck sweater. The guy who cuts my hair has tats everywhere and a man bun and selvedge jeans, but he’s not a hipster. He does cross-fit and went to the Roger Waters show. He’s simply an american consumer. Do you really think a River City shop jersey is a hipster clothing item? Does that mean my in-laws are hipsters? They own a lot of River City jerseys. They’d be happy to know that because they think they are dorks… I think they’re cool though.
At this point I think ipster’ just means ‘someone whose consumer goods preferences differ from mine.’
I have some early “craft ” tops before the price when to the roof. :/
I would love to see a write up like this for women’s cycling apparal. And, I think it would be helpful to note in this review that this jersey only comes in a men’s version.
That’s a very good point Jennie. I agree with your sentiments about reviews on women’s specific gear. I have done a few reviews in the past on women’s specific stuff and im sure to keep that in mind for the future. Cheers Jbucky
Hi Jennie, The Saltzman Women’s Jersey is currently in production. We’re sorry it wasn’t ready at the same time as the men’s version, but we took some extra time on the fit to get it just right. Check back with RCB later this summer, or on anthmcollective.com. We’re having a hard time keeping up! Long Sleeve versions for both men and women will be a later fall launch.