Svelte are a new cycling apparel company based in London. They have a strong British connection and have kept the manufacturing of their kit in the East End of London, something that Tom Barber, their founder, is particularly fond of.
I caught up with Tom a couple of weeks ago and the company is certainly going through an exciting time at the moment have just launched their kickstarter campaign, which has hit 75% of its target at the time of writing.
During this chat, Tom handed me the Heritage Jersey and I decided that rather than discuss the intricacies of the business model that Svelte have put together (they are looking at the straight to customer route, similar to Canyon Bikes) I would simply review their first real product, the Heritage Jersey.
Fit & Look
I really liked the fit of the heritage jersey, it is a semi racing cut, but without the overly tight aspects that often mean that wearing cycling jerseys when not on a serious run can lead to embarrassment. It also includes slightly elongated sleeves, which certainly adds to the slightly casual look.
The jersey has a full zip running down the front with a YKK zipper, which worked well with no jams or irritation whilst using it. It is also very subtly branded with the Svelte logo only being present with a small version on the bottom left of the front, which is essentially covered when you are riding, and a clasp at on a back pocket showing it. This gives it a certain degree of minimalist class, much like Rapha have done in their jerseys.
It also has a whopping 5 pockets on the rear, with the three regular jersey pockets, a separate zipped phone/coin pouch and another smaller pouch closed with a strong that hooks around the Svelte branded button. The pockets are all a good size and due to the semi-relaxed fit of the jersey, meant that I did not end up with the lumpy back that tighter fitting jerseys sometimes create.
The only thing I would change about the fit is the silicone gripper at the bottom of the jersey at the back. Although not a major issue, I did find that this would ride up, but as this is the Beta version of the jersey it is likely to change when the actual production model is made.
This is the real selling point of this jersey, the stitching is strong, the merino wool based material means that it feels very solid and well made without losing the sporty edge that can sometimes happen when you use slightly thicker materials.
Perhaps the silicone grippers could be better as at present they are just a single strip, I would suggest a future version with more, thinner silicone strips to help hold it down during longer rides.
It also has some nice touches that make a real difference, like the Svelte branded button at the rear and the subtle logo on the front.
This is not an out and out performance piece, but does perform well when called upon.
Although not the most breathable jersey I have ever used, it works well into the mid 20’s without causing a huge amount of sweating. The full zip is certainly a blessing with this, as when fully closed allows you to wear it down to about 7˚C (with arm warmers) but I also wore it half zipped at 28˚C without feeling particularly hotter than I would with any other jersey.
It is close to the levels of other performance/casual apparel makers such as Rapha or Vulpine, but is not marketed in the same way and certainly makes up for the slight difference in the price.
Due to their direct to customer approach, Svelte can provide this at considerably cheaper than you would expect for a jersey of this quality.
Coming in at only £70/$108, it is around half of what you would pay for other brand’s offerings within the same space. This makes it a steal and the kickstarter campaign is currently offering the jersey at only £60/$93.
I was really impressed with the jersey, especially as it comes from a company who have not yet even begun full production.
There are certainly aspects that demonstrate that it has not been in the business for long, like the silicone grippers, but overall I have tried worse jerseys from more established companies (none mentioned in this article) at twice the price and was very impressed with Svelte's first outing.