We’re big fans of MAAP Cycling Apparel here at Coolector HQ and decided to reach out to the creative duo behind the brand’s creation, Ollie Cousins and Jarrad Smith, to discover the motivations behind the brand and to get the inside scoop on the quality materials used in their top notch cycling wares.
Q: What would you say is the main difference between Maap cycling apparel and your competitors on the market?
JARRAD – I try not to look at or compare MAAP to the other brands out there. Obviously, they enter my peripheral vision but the focus is on making premium quality products for cyclists everywhere by taking in feedback from my riding, our teams, ambassadors and customers. It’s feedback only we get which allows MAAP to bring unique material innovations and design advancements rooted in real life experiences.
We’ve never been interested in developing just a range of kit. So, we spent a lot of time in the early days of MAAP developing a strong foundation, honing in on the right key constraints, identifying true needs not being properly addressed, and evolving prototype after prototype after prototype.
OLLIE – There a lot of brands, either very established or new to market offering a wide range of products at various levels of quality. Our focus has always been on style, innovation and performance. It’s no good having great looking kit if it doesn’t perform well.
Q: You’re clearly very design led and creative in your cycling apparel ranges. Where do you get your design inspirations from?
JARRAD – For inspiration, we’re usually drawing on industries outside of cycling. For example, industries like surf, skate, fashion and even interior design and architecture come to mind. Some of the most enriching and resonate creative expressions throughout time are those that make the familiar new and the new familiar. Whether it’s truly incredible examples of human achievement, fashion design, contemporary architecture, or even flippant artistic assertions, the new notes derived from historical reverberations light up how we see fit, function and fashion at MAAP. For us, it’s a question of how might we nod to the rich heritage of design and design thinking while also tease out new ideas that try to move the needle and introduce a different perspective to the discourse.
OLLIE – We have drawn inspiration from some of the great pro teams over the years, the colours they use, the logo placements. MAAP loves a powerful brand statement! But some of our favourite jerseys over the years have fallen victim to over branding. So it’s important to focus on being considered and deliberate in our design decisions versus just loud. We try to develop our range in a way that we feel progresses the art and direction of the sport. In that way, we value constraints as they create focus and cohesion. We stick to a limited colour palette and similar design handwriting as the brand is designed to let people mix and match products across the entire range.
Q: What are the main features of your new pieces like the M-Flag Pro and Base Bib Shorts that will appeal to cyclists from a performance point of view?
JARRAD – I think the biggest appeal for the Base Collection – which includes our Base Bib Shorts – has been the simplicity and understated logo design and placement. Having said that, the fabric construction and pre-dyed treatment for our Base Jerseys produces a hand feel that’s as soft as your favourite cotton t-shirt. It’s incredible. They’re the softest jerseys we’ve ever ridden in – and the pre-dyed treatment means the garments stay true to form and fit over time as you ride, wash and repeat. Also I think the time taken to get the fitting of each garment as close to perfect pays off. When you’re spending hours upon hours on the bike, the perfect fit means a more comfortable ride.
OLLIE – The M-Flag Pro Light Jersey is a new development intended for hot weather riding. We use a Swiss manufactured textile which is super light and breathable, but still able to offer protection from harmful UV rays. The Base Bib Short is designed for big training days. The Chamois has been beefed up but deliberately designed to be streamlined in feel, the leg gripper is super soft and stretchable, and the material for the bib features an Anti-Bacterial treatment and Cold Black technology which helps the (generally dark coloured) fabric remain cool in direct sunlight.
Q: What compelled you to create Maap in the first place? Did you see a gap in the market for a more stylish / functional brand that wasn’t being met?
JARRAD – Originally, we struggled to buy cycling kit that was appealing to us. Sometimes gaps are objectively obvious, other times they’re felt and other times still it’s some combination of the two. For us, it was a combination of the two. We could see there was a need for something that we wanted to wear, so we took a punt and started designing our first collection to see what that might look like. What we were intuiting was corroborated once we saw it on and began testing it out on the road. We pressed the gas and have been holding fast to our mission, design process, feedback loops.
OLLIE – We both came from a fashion background, are keen cyclists and knew we had a point of view that wasn’t being told. Having worked in the surf industry for over a decade, we were able to take that experience and apply it to MAAP. Since the beginning, our focus has been on building a brand and bringing something meaningful and truly additive to the cyclists and the sport globally. We’ve never been interested in developing just a range of kit. So, we spent a lot of time in the early days of MAAP developing a strong foundation, honing in on the right key constraints, identifying true needs not being properly addressed, and evolving prototype after prototype after prototype. And luckily our factories are based in Italy, so it gives us a good excuse to head over there and ride and test the product!
Q: Tell us about the materials you use in your cycling gear? Why did you choose them?
OLLIE – We work with numerous fabric mills from Italy, Switzerland or Japan. Generally the process is one of choosing, sampling, testing, refining. It’s not a quick process. It requires a lot of deliberation. However, it’s worth it. The right materials, construction and fit mean everything when you’re training and racing hard. So talking to our factories, sourcing the most innovative and high-performance fabrics available (some yet to even be applied in cycling), putting them to the test on the road, and carefully assessing how they perform (fit, feel, etc.) means when you’re riding in any MAAP product you’re focused on taking on the challenge ahead and riding at your best.
Q: You guys are based in Melbourne, Australia – what are your favourite cycling routes in Australia?
JARRAD – My favourite cycling routes are probably in the Adelaide Hills. It’s stunning over there. Sweeping hills, tight turns, back country roads, all surrounded by vineyards, forests and beautiful nature. You can get to the hills within about 10k’s from the CBD and the roads are much quieter and safer than Melbourne. I’m booking my ticket now! Ha.
Q: You clearly put a lot of thought and research into each new MAAP release? Tell us about your research and development processes to ensure the quality of the finished product.
OLLIE – Again this comes back to the development process. Fitting, testing, refining. Fitting, testing, refining. Fitting, testing, refining. I’ve moved to Italy for the Summer to work more closely with the factory and be hands on with our supplier. This allows us to move through development samples quicker which means more time to refine or resample ideas if they’re not perfect. We can get out on the road with elite athletes and see what’s working and what we need to adjust and get right back to factory to make the necessary improvements. Plus, the riding here is amazing! It’s been deeply inspiring!
Q: Are there any other brands that you take inspiration from either personally or professionally?
OLLIE – Honestly, brands that have a clear direction and identity are the ones that resonate most. They are a few obvious ones and there are a few emerging ones. Clarity is a treasure in an otherwise really chaotic and noise time.
Q: What bike do you ride?
JARRAD – I have a small collection of bikes. Foremost, I ride the MAAP/Basso Diamante as we designed it in house. It’s a pretty light and stiff frame which suits my needs. I also have a Colonago C59 with an Art Decor classic paint job and a Pinarello Prince of Spain which was one of a small run dedicated to Alejandro Valverde
OLLIE – Just one?! Basso Diamante, Cielo Steel Road Racer, and a Colnago Prestige Cross Bike.
Q: What’s on the horizon for Maap? What new releases do we have to look forward to?
OLLIE – Without giving away the surprises, it’s definitely a busy 6 months coming up. In addition to our September and November product launches, featuring a few really significant innovations, we’re working with Bellroy on expanding our Phone Pocket offer to include a 7+ option and new colorway, Giro on a collaboration with their Synthe helmet and Suplest on a new shoe design. It’s going to be an exciting run up to 2018.
See More: MAAP