02 August 2010

Innovation is Perpetually in Motion at Giordana

A Historical Reflection and Interview with Giordana founder and owner Giorgio Andretta

Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, Giordana reflects back upon its rich history and promising future as they continue to design, manufacture and import cycling wear, pushing the technology envelope and innovative designs for which they are well-known.

Founded in 1980 by Giorgio Andretta, Giordana immediately began working closely with the biggest American cycling teams and events of the day, including: Levi's/Raleigh, which evolved into Levi's/Pinarello; Bud Light; Dia-Compe/Aspen Velo; the US PRO Championships; and numerous others. Giordana sponsored the American National Team for many years, including 1984 when Alexi Grewal won the Olympic Gold medal and in 1989 when Greg Lemond became World Champion.

In 1985, Andretta partnered with Federico Zacchetto to create a new manufacturing company in Bonferraro, Italy, named APG srl. Embracing new technologies available in the textile industry to become a leader in sublimation printing, testing new materials and developing new products, Giordana was also propelled to the forefront of the custom apparel side of the market, providing professional clothing to local and regional clubs. The company continued to expand its market when selected by the Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers to be their exclusive cycle wear manufacturer. The unique designs and vibrant printing brought many accolades including an award for Disney for having the best graphics and designs of all its licensees.

Another highlight of the 1990’s was Giordana's sponsorship of the Tour de France when Miguel Indurain celebrated his –then unprecedented– fifth consecutive Tour win in a Giordana leader jersey. Throughout the decade, Giordana worked with teams and events at the highest level in cycling to provide technical cycling wear, including Team Motorola (on which Lance Armstrong once served) and other Division 1 teams including Cofidis, Lotto, ONCE, Navigare, Liberty Seguros, CSC and Telekom. In the US, teams such as IME, SAAB, Mercury, Nautilus-Barracuda and Schwinn-Toyota all enjoyed the benefits of Giordana clothing. US National Champions, along with the winners of the Tour DuPont and Le Tour de France, all donned Giordana jerseys on the winners' podiums. All told, Giordana has equipped as many as 280 professional athletes in a single season.

In 2004 APG moved into a new state-of-the-art facility just outside of Verona, Italy, bringing all phases of assembly under one roof, improving and expanding manufacturing capabilities. Most importantly, it keeps all processes together, allowing Giordana to monitor every step of the production and uphold strict quality standards. It also allowed Giordana to develop its exclusive family of inserts: The OmniForm™ collection. As an added benefit, the APG factory surpasses Europe’s strict environmental manufacturing standards, using only water-based inks while recycling excess ink, transfer paper and fabric trimmings. Instead of artificial lighting, skylights provide a natural primary light source for the facility, which significantly decreases energy consumption.

BicyclingHub.com Interview with Giorgio Andretta

JC: What innovative new product lines has Giordana rolled out for 2010?

GA: “We're really very excited about the new products and capabilities we've introduced this year. The Giordana FormaRed-Carbon line has already been successful and with the introduction of the new FormaRed-Custom collection, we open up this level of apparel to a completely new market. Ever since we developed the first Forma line, now more than five years ago, consumers and professional riders alike asked for this level of materials and features in a customizable form. At the time, we were limited by manufacturing processes that were not capable of printing on the delicate fabrics without changing their beneficial properties. In addition, the paneling didn't always lend itself to the prominent display of logos needed for team kits. To realize the FormaRed-Custom vision we not only had to find innovative ways around these challenges, but we had to build an entirely new process of development from layout design to finishing touches. It was not an easy task, but one we were glad to take on and we're proud of what we've achieved with the FR-Custom program.”

JC: How has the response to these new product lines been thus far, from both American cycling enthusiasts and professional cyclists?

GA: “Our inspiration for new products and manufacturing developments originates from our long history of support for the sport of cycling at all levels. Giordana keeps a continuous open dialog with everyone who wears the brand, from the professional racers in the pro peloton to neighbors we ride with on the weekend. As a result, our motivation tends to come directly from those who will ride in the new products we develop. In addition, we are riders ourselves, so we make garments that we want to wear. We know a product is going to be successful because we've developed it based on what we want and what others want. That said, the FR-Custom has generated more enthusiasm more quickly than we anticipated. Ironically, we were able to offer this level in our in-line collection first, and all the pros wanted it. Now that the pros are using it, consumers are catching on in a big way. I would say that we are receiving enthusiastic positive feedback from all sides.”

JC: What exactly does "sublimation printing" entail?

GA: “Sublimation printing is a multi step process where paper is printed with the images desired for a particular garment. This can be done either digitally or on an off-set press. The images from the paper are then transferred to fabric via a heat press that releases the ink from the paper as a gas. The ink gases permeate the fabric as the design becomes a permanent part of the fabric. In our Giordana FULL Custom and new Giordana NOW Custom programs this printing process is completed before the garment is sewn. For SEMI Custom items it is spot printed onto finished garments.”

JC: You state "Our products are put to the toughest tests and appraised by the most discerning athletes." Please elaborate--what are these tests of toughness, and who are the athletes that are discerning them?

GA: “Giordana has more than three decades of experience as a pro cycling sponsor. We have provided apparel to teams like Motorola, CSC, Mercury, Bissell and most recently Footon Servetto. Athletes at this level have considerable motivation to tell us when something isn't working or needs to be adjusted simply because they spend so much time in the apparel. They wear their kits during training and in every race. They're not shy about demanding the ultimate in comfort and performance. The toughest tests are the real road tests that our products endure day after day on the backs of those elite riders.”

JC: Some of our staff here at BicyclingHub.com love the Giordana staff love the jerseys and shorts designed for women. What makes your women's specific attire stand out from your competitors?

GA: “Over the last several years Giordana has focused more specifically on the women's market. It's readily apparent that female riders' needs are not taken as seriously as the mens' in this industry. Too often, women's garments are an after-thought. Giordana recognized a need in the market for serious elite women's apparel on par in every way with the best men's stuff out there. We stand out from our competitors because of the equality we strive for between our men's and women's collections. Moreover, we recognize that while men's and women's apparel should be equal in quality, performance and features, those male and female riders' needs are very different. To achieve the ideal balance we developed what we call Giordana's WCF™ (Women's Contour Fit). Every women's specific garment in the line is developed using this system. The WCF system uses real female riders on the bike to develop forms and pattern that will enhance the riding experience for women.”

JC: “All of Giordana's products are made in your factory in Italy. How does this affect your overall quality and service production, especially when compared to competitor's brands?”

GA: “A few years ago Giordana was able to expand and consolidate all manufacturing processes under one roof. This move represents a huge advantage to us, as we can now monitor each garment through every step of the process. This ensures that our high quality standards are consistently upheld. It also streamlines our process, making it more efficient so we can manage production time and costs - benefits we can pass on to the customer. Italy has long been an unparalleled world center in the apparel industry. In the age of outsourcing, we are proud to be one of the last companies that refuses to compromise our practices and instead maintains the country's long history of genuine quality craftsmanship.”

A behind the scenes look at the Giordana's new state-of-the-art factory near Verona, Italy

For 2010, team sponsorship continues to play an integral part in the brand's evolution. Giordana sponsors Footon-Servetto, CSF-Colnago, ISD-Neri as well as Bissell, Jamis-Sutter Home presented by Colavita, the Colavita-Baci women’s team and Carmichael Training Systems. The company’s longstanding involvement with elite athletes has provided invaluable feedback over the years and insures that the clothing meets the needs of American enthusiasts, yet retains the authenticity of true Italian race wear. Order your men’s or women’s specific Giordana cycling apparel today at BicyclingHub.com.


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