In the world of development, the following description is a pretty common thing, 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 and long e mail chains, sometimes calls at 9pm at night to develop a product with your offshore agent. What happens 90% of the time is a few iterations in design, back and forths to the factory, a few samples and slowly you find it difficult to really nail those fine details that are essential make your product shine in an ever demanding consumer market, 2nd, 3rd sample and things are good but not as perfect as they should be for you.
Rewind the tape, enter Brian of AnthmCollective
Brian channels his knowledge of materials and product development to create a cycling jersey (and brand) that is made in the USA, specifically Portland, where he has control over the details, he can ride his bike for 5miles to visit his seamstress to talk face to face and work on his 2nd sample, adding the care and attention where needed to get it just right. This care in development is where craft meets manufacture and takes the best of both worlds to produce great stuff.
Handsewn in the USA – check.
Crafted with care – check
designed in person – check
Made from New Zealand wool and colour finished in Vietnam – check
Sold to ultra-demanding consumers that want great stuff – check
Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts. The Saltzman Jersey.
The minimal styling and high couture vibe immediately remind 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% Polyester and 40% Merino Wool from New Zealand. Combining characteristics of wool, great heat management, moisture transfer and odor resistant with polyester which gives it structure to keep the shape of the garment for fit and comfort. 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.
Along with craft, material and manufacturing excellence, Brian waxes on about business strategy. He has a new perspective on retail, for many years bike shops have struggled with apparel, shoppers don’t buy in-store because they see the same products with more selection and discounts online. To them, apparel became a commodity. And that’s the key, Brian is taking his product and selling it to the local bike stores with a unique feel and exclusivity (custom shop logo) so shoppers know that they are getting something special in their favorite bike shop and they will not be able to google the heck out of this.
The prototype I have is version 2, it’s black and size medium, I tried to cram into a small (mainly because it was an awesome orange colour:-) ) I’m’ 6ft 3 with a 37″ chest and narrow shoulders (think cyclist build) 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 garment, not an 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 4-7hrs at a time.
Select area Silicon gripper on the rear hem and three open pockets in the back, the central pocket is deeper, the two outside pockets are slightly tapered outward for easy access. This is 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 a first blush the pockets are located at a great height on the jersey, everyone hates pockets that are too high, the test will be when I load them up with food and supplies. The neck line runs high but not super high with a zipper pocket at the top and a zipper liner to stop it from digging in your skin. The rest of the front is plan with a nicely embroidered logo in the same colour as the jersey, subtle aesthetic for that high couture look found by the skinny guys in the black and white photoshoots.
With around 600miles on this jersey now I can say I have thoughly used it. From short to long rides and at various temperatures this jersey seems to resonate as a solid 0-70 Mile jersey. The jersey breathes well and stays a tad warmer than a polyester single layer jersey. On chillier days I could wear the jersey in the mid 50’s (with a base layer) all the way up to low 70’s, which is a good wide temperature band. For comparision my suspicion is that the Slatzman would feel warmer than a Rapha Lightweight and Cooler than their regular sportwool, you can feel this difference in the hand of the material.
Where this jersey stands out is in two areas, firstly it looks smart, it’s pretty subdued and classy looking, not adorned with ton’s of logos or colour breaks like most other cycling apparel. When worn with fitted shorts (but not spandex cycling shorts) the outfit has a refined look, a high end urban 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 it’s longest stretch I managed to wear it for 4 days, each day riding about 35miles.
On the flip side there were a couple of downpoints, 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. 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? Brian from Anthm assured me this had been resolved on production versions by enhancing the structure. There are a couple of fit changes I would suggest to AnthmCollective one being the tail of the jersey be made shorter and possibly run the pockets 15mm longer.
At $120 this jersey offers high value and high craftsmanship, great construction, materials and of course the made local, made in Portland USA make this a win for any domestic advocates.
You can find your jersey at River City Bicycles and University Bicycles in Boulder. At the time, Brian told me they are currently out of stock with ANTHM branded goods, but customers can sign up to the first to know when the Small Batch Apparel is available.