In 2009 we launched Morvélo with £500 and a box of t-shirts. As graphic designers for international sports brands by day, Morvélo was a sideline project and outlet to combine creativity and our real passion of cycling. T-shirts were a simple way for us to communicate our Ride Everything ethos.
In June 2009 we decided that it was time for us to race the popular 24hr MTB events properly. We formed a team with three friends, Frazer Clifford, Lea Denison and Rob Dean and committed to race the Bontrager 24/12 event full tilt to see what we could do (well as it transpired, with a Category win and 2nd overall). Naturally if we were going to race properly we would need a team kit. The Unity was born.
Inspired by the superb graphical treatment of the Cervélo Test Team clothing (still the best looking pro team kit ever in our opinion), we set about designing something distinctive yet still very much taking visual cues from pro cycling.
With this in mind we naturally emblazoned it with our new brand name Morvélo and wings icon. The wings icon was developed very much with The Unity kit in mind. We have a love of old cars, especially old muscle cars and a soft spot for the Pontiac Firebird and 1980's films. When we were thinking what should adorn the front of the jersey, the flaming firebird as the starting point.
The car reference also carried over to the back of the jersey using the iconic stripes from a Ford GT40.
Our love of racing wasn't just confined to MTB however. We also raced on road, track and cyclocross and needed to find a way of conveying this diversity without literally spelling it out. Paul Components make some of the sweetest componentry you are ever likely to find. It was as we were lusting after their singlespeed crankset that it struck us.
The card suits perfectly encapsulated up our ethos. These icons together embody the two key elements of diversity and chance. Riding and racing all type of bikes and the willingness to gamble. Whether it's launching a race winning move, finding a new line, getting into a break, or hitting that drop-off you've been building up to for weeks, taking a chance is inherent in all forms of cycling. It's this diversity and love of a challenge that are the foundations of Morvélo and influence everything we do, so the card suits were placed around the arms and legs of The Unity.
TTFU was a reference to Stuart O'Grady's wristband he made for Team CSC in the 2007 Tour De France that read "Harden The Fuck Up". We interpreted it from Australian into English and made it "Toughen The Fuck Up". A small reminder on the left leg not to give up.
Despite our love of racing we know that we're more likely to loose than win. But that is not the point. The cut and thrust of racing is what we find addictive and not necessarily the results. We felt this was reflected in the iconic 2004 cyclocross film "Pure Sweet Hell". In fact the very title spoke to the racers in us in particular, so this was emblazoned across the back of the jersey, as homage to the rigours and joy of racing something so simple as a bicycle.
As we raced, more and more people noticed The Unity kit and asked where they could buy it asking what was this "Morvélo"? Initially we had only made enough for the four of us but we made a batch of 30 to sell to friends. They then told their friends so we made some more. Each time putting all the proceeds back in to make more kits. Word spread and within a year it wasn't t-shirts that were driving the business but this new cycle clothing, The Unity. This was the moment that we realised Morvélo could be a true cycle apparel brand and let to us quitting our design jobs and going full time with Morvélo in 2012. Over the years The Unity has slowly evolved and this year we revised the design in full creating The Unity Evo. The design has been simplified but still remains a bold statement that reflects our view the cycling world. Just in case you think we have omitted some elements have a peek inside the rear pockets.