twmp - the perfect fit
mrs washingmachinepost, like many of her gender, continually orders items of clothing from either those huge doorstops of catalogues, or from the websites of those who used to distribute such gargantuan publications. i have often said, only partially in jest, that she ought to put our local post office as the delivery address so that catherine can send them back directly, thus cutting out the middle-(wo)man, if you catch my drift.
she is not totally naive; both catalogues and websites make their best attempts to make each garment look more than inviting, hoping for the all-important click-through or order form return. yet when the ordered packages arrive, with very few exceptions, they look or fit nothing like the catalogues promised. and they are thus unceremoniously re-wrapped and returned. it is a ritual repeated almost on a weekly basis.
it more or less sums up the problem of online sales. the internet has allowed many businesses to form and survive, including those in the cycling world, without the need of retail premises fronted by the all-important shop window. in the main, this is good news, not only offering the pelotonese the luxury of acquiring goods that would otherwise have remained unavailable or uncreated. but looking at carefully curated photographs of your prospective purchase(s) is really no substitute for touching, feeling and trying on whatever it is you fancy spending your money on.
and this is not purely because photoshop allows the realistic creation or digital manipulation of something that doesn't quite exist in the manner that marketing would have you believe it does.
despite trek's restriction on the online sales of its products without first being correctly fitted, buying a bicycle online, assuming you've paid attention to the manufacturers' sizing charts, is relatively straightforward. clothes and footwear, however, suffer greater iniquities. in pretty much every instance, when requesting garments for review on the post, i have adhered to listing size small for shorts and bibtights and medium for jerseys and jackets. when shoes are involved, i've stuck rigidly to size 44.
you will be not at all surprised to learn that there are often quite surprising variations between each manufacturer; on one or two rare occasions, i have had to return items to trade up or down a size. similarly with footwear. though my sizing has been reasonably accurate, there are several differences when considering the width fittings. many modern-day cycling shoes are constructed with synthetic uppers, materials that rarely vary in fit, no matter how often or in what conditions they are worn.
martin scofield at dromarti sells handcrafted leather cycle shoes, originally from a small office in london, with boxes of product stacked against one wall. things have moved on considerably since then, but initial sales were all completed online. however, as he himself points out "Online, is great for information and to see what others think. Moreover, it enables people to order when they just have a few moments to spare. However, if people have the time, you can't beat seeing and trying the shoes in person."
to this end, dromarti leather shoes first became available in person from chris puttnam's velobici in market bosworth, leicestershire. but for the first time, martin's shoes will be available in central london, with dromarti having partnered with brompton junction in covent garden's, long acre. i asked martin whether this recent placement was the continuation of a planned strategy, or just a one-at-a-time sort of thing?
"Strategy might be overplaying it, but when opportunities come up for us to work with people that are totally committed to their customers and are leaders in their field, then it's just obvious we should work together.
We don't want to be just another shoe on the rack, so in this case Brompton was perfect at every level. As is Velobici. Chris Puttnam lives and breathes his business. A life-long cyclist with a very special range of clothing and a beautifully crafted store."
it seems a tad unlikely, however, that martin found himself wandering aimlessly through covent garden and thought "you know what...?" in that case, who approached who?
"David Millar introduced me to Will Butler-Adams. We both thought that the shoes would fit perfectly in the Brompton Junction store at Long Acre and it all happened pretty quickly from there. It's a super space in a great location and the Brompton has really created its own category. It's just a perfect place for us to be."
he's probably right. on my one and only joining of london's tweed ride several years ago, martin provided me with a rather stately pair of dromarti shoes and the loan of a dromarti steel bicycle for the event. it's possibly the only time in my life that i have approached some degree of sartorial elegance. the shoes themselves are ideal for the cycle commute; aside from leather being the archetypal shoe material, a pair of dromartis lessens comparisons with the peloton, looking every bit as stately in the office as on the bicycle.
and talking of bicycles, the brompton folding-bike is every bit as much of a british cycling institution as brooks saddles. so does martin now ride to work on one?
"I would absolutely love one. It's my birthday in April (orange please)."
saturday 6 february 2016
thewashingmachinepost occupies not only a niche within the world of road cycling, but also something of a geographical corner, given that it all emanates from the inner Hebridean island of Islay, situated off Scotland's west coast. The climate, rife with galeforce winds, horizontal rain perfumed with the peat smoke from eight malt whisky distilleries and a substantial network of agriculturally beset single-track roads, is the ideal testing ground for most things cycling.
Only the most rugged survive: https://www.thewashingmachinepost.net