Urban Industry

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Interview - Ed Cowburn of Milltag

August 02, 2016

 

We are excited to introduce the exclusive Urban Industry X Milltag Pro Cycling Kit – the starting point for our UI Fatigue Club, products for everyday fitness.

Aside from our love for all things streetwear and sneakers, cycling is a huge part of our life here at Urban Industry. What started as a hobby has moved in to more of a lifestyle for many of us, a sport that offers a sense of achievement and community. We have been lucky in the past to work on other cycling themed collaborations, most notably our cycling jersey with New Yorks Only NY, which was well received by our following.

As we are seeing more and more of the the worlds of streetwear and cycling combine, we wanted to celebrate this coming together by teaming up with bespoke cycle clothing company Milltag on a performance and style focused collaboration. Upon the release of our latest collaborative project, we catch up with one of Milltag's founders to find out more on his role, the brands history and what the future holds for Milltag.

 

 

1. Please introduce yourself, Name.. What do you do at Milltag?

Hi, I’m Ed Cowburn. I’m one half of the founders of Milltag from back in 2010. I tend to get my hands dirty with most aspects of the business but my primary focus is on the creative side of things.

 

2.  Can you share a brief history of Milltag?

 Myself and Pete Kelsey were working together as graphic designers having met on a bike ride from London to Paris back in 2007 and we couldn’t find cycling jerseys that we liked. They were all too generic or covered in sponsors, so we decided to try and make our own. We wanted to create the type of jerseys that would appeal to people like us that had been brought up with skating and snowboarding as well as our obvious interest in music and design.

After months of research we managed to find a family run factory in Slovakia that could create limited editions of the quality we wanted and set about designing and collaborating with artists we liked. We started in the summer of 2010 with five designs of just 30 of each and with a bit of work managed to sell most of them. It was very much a hobby and with full time jobs everything was quite slow so it took us another six months to create a second series.

The business continued to grow through word of mouth and our customers gave us fantastic feedback on the quality of our jerseys and even began to ask if we would design and make bespoke jerseys for them. It was never in our plans to go into the custom clothing business but we love working in collaboration for people so I guess it was a very natural step.

Within a couple more years we were full time on Milltag and had developed a full range fully customisable products including a set of professional level products worn by the likes of World and Olympic Champion Laura Trott.

Most of our work is bespoke these days but we do still design and produce our own limited edition collections each year and certainly make it a priority to collaborate with interesting artists, designers and brands.

Hopefully after six years we continue to bring a bit of personality to the cycle-wear industry.

 

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3.  You’ve produced some high profile kits in the past. How did the hook up come to produce the cycle kit for the Tour of Yorkshire?

 Looking back on it now, I think it was a few factors and a case of the stars aligning for us.

As I am Leeds lad I was very excited (something of an understatement) following the announcement in 2013 that the 2014 Tour de France would be starting in my home town. To celebrate I designed a Yorkshire kit which seemed to strike a chord with the Yorkshire cycling fraternity in the year leading up to the TdF.

A few months after the riders completed their annual sufferfest around France, the Tour de Yorkshire was unveiled and amazingly we made it onto their radar. Without going into the ins and outs, after a few meetings we got the nod to design and produce the winners jerseys.

It was a very valuable experience for us to work on a race of that size and to the winners pull on our jerseys on the podium at the end of the first stage was a major highlight for me and the brand. We got very good feedback from the riders and race organisers about the quality our products and it’s really galvanised what we do and our desire to improve and expand the brand.

 

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4. It seems Milltag have built quite a grass roots following looking your gallery. How do foster this community spirit in cycling?

Cycling is really social by its nature with riders loving to share their love for the sport. Add to this the fact we fit into the design side of things and you get an customer base that like to be involved with what we do and are actively encouraged to do so by have their own kits designed and/or made my us.

We have made it a key mission for us to not be like some of the other custom kit manufacturers who are simply a print house. We want every kit we make to look as good as possible and for our customers to feel like partners even after the kit is delivered. That means we try to link up our social media but also use them on our site as case studies to help their clubs or brands grow. It just makes a lot of sense to us and keeps what we do exciting and interesting. We are very passionate about cycling and whether people wear our kit or not, we want more people riding and enjoying it.

The door to our studio is always open to anyone who wants to come and see what we do or have a coffee and chat about cycling.

 

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5. What else is in the pipeline for Milltag?

We are constantly trying to improve our products and with new technical innovations in fabrics happening all the time this is becoming a full time job in its own right. We are close to finalising our new range of customisable products for 2017 and are very excited about them.

In terms of design and collaborations, I have to keep things pretty close to my chest at the moment but there are a few things brewing, including a trip to California later in the year which I think could lead to some exciting things.

Keep an eye out for Urban Industry x Milltag coming soon…

 

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Image: Chris Auld