Vulpine are one of the quintessential success stories of the London cycling scene. Founded in 2012, Vulpine set out with a goal of functional clothes that look good and off the bike. As Nick says, the litmus test for a Vulpine garment is whether you can walk into a pub, without standing out as a cyclist.
With Spring in the air, Vulpine are now launching their new 2016 range. We thought this was a perfect time to catch up with Nick Hussey, check out the clothes and find out what the ride has been like from the inside.
A life filled with ups and downs
The biggest obvious up of 2015 was the launch of Hoy Vulpine. Nick started his cycling love affair with racing in the 80s and so road and performance riding are very much part of his riding repertoire.
“Last year was quite nuts, and also quite grim personally. We launched Hoy Vulpine early in the year, obviously really a big deal, Chis approached me about 15 months before that. It was a massive step up and we pitched against a big cycling company. Then we launched and Chris and I met Greg LeMond and it was amazing.”
Straight after the launch of Hoy Vulpine, Nick found out his mum had cancer
“I just felt like I was getting kicked in the head all the time from that point onwards. It became one of the main reasons I took on a managing director at the end of the year. The previous 3 years I had just driven the company from the front. I had done a huge amount of marketing and design and ideas and opinions. It really felt like I was getting the most out of myself. This year I just got bogged down with being a managing director. It sounds quite posh, but its dealing with a lot of problems and finance and they are just not really my strong points.”
Throw in a new baby and priorities needed to shift.
It takes a huge amount of self awareness to realise that the right thing for your company and its success is to put someone else in operational control. Nick also started to really miss all the work that Vulpine was doing for the community which had ground to a halt.
“The things that were getting pushed aside were the marketing, the blogs, all the fun stuff, Vulpine being a positive influence. The Vulpine cycling fetes had stopped because that was me doing them and people massively enjoyed them. They were a really positive influence on how people perceived cycling and the different groups, bringing them together.”
It may be a cliché, but Vulpine love their customers, they are the people who make the company successful and are often fiercely loyal. It seemed only natural to let the customers have a chance to be more invested in the company, hence the use of CrowdCube. “People invest in crowd funding because they want to be a part of something that matters to them” Nick told me, and it is clear that Vulpine wanted this kind of investment. They pre-launched the campaign to customers before going out to general investors.
Nick really loves cycling and people who ride bikes. Listening to him talk about being on a bike makes it clear that it is the thing he enjoys above everything (other than family). His passion for clothes also came across and the way they can help you feel comfortable on and off a bike. “I come from a very heads down racing background, but I am also a very ride how you like, get the picnic basket and support the two [and any other] style.”
Vulpine’s aim is to provide high quality clothing to those who wish to wear functional items while riding a bike and look good doing it. Nick also wants his company to be a part of the cycling community. The participation of companies such as Vulpine in fostering a community and being a positive influence for change to help cyclists is something we of course love here at London Cyclist.
The new Spring Summer range which launched this month is a continuation of successful products from previous years along with the addition of a few key new pieces. There are some great things that will be functional on the bike and then look good off it – the silk air tops for women and the Merino Sunset hoody (for guys and girls) are particularly awesome looking.
They will be bringing out a Made in Britain line later in the year, something than Nick has been wanting to do for a while. Now that he has a boss to handle the day to day running of the Vulpine ship, he will also be focusing on their own events again. Therefore we should see a cycling fete again this year. Whoop!
The London Cyclist Lowdown:
To wrap up our discussion, I asked Nick our standard questions so you can get an idea of the kind of bike riding person he is.
What bike do you ride and why?
“I have 5 bikes, today I have ridden my Vulpine Feather, which is a stainless steel handmade bike. I ride it because it is beautiful and it was the first one I saw in front of me this morning, because I am really busy!”
Nick also has a stealth single speed for going to meetings on in central London, a vintage Colnago which is his special bike for riding around Richmond park. Then there is a carbon fibre, super fast mountain bike and a squishy mountain bike for family trips.
What’s your favourite bike ride in London?
“I’m currently obsessed by doing bridge rides. If I have a meeting in London I always try to make sure that I am riding. I always love going over bridges because you see these different sections of London. If you airdropped on to each bridge in London you would get a different view of the city. My favourite bridge is Albert bridge because it is so pretty but for the best view of London, Waterloo Bridge.”
What cycling accessory do you not want to live without?
“My favourite bit of a bike is the chain set, I am obsessed with chain sets. They are pretty things and you can’t live without them because otherwise your bike doesn’t work.”
“A bike is a bike to be honest, and once you have one thats really all you need. As long as your chain doesn’t squeak, I can’t stand that. My favourite cycling accessory is a bike that just feels right, and is quiet. It doesn’t have to feel light or heavy, it just feels right and you feel like you are at one with your bike.”
“I pretty much live in my padded merino underwear. Because I cycle around so much and wear normal [Vulpine] clothes I want to be comfortable and not look like I am wearing padded underwear. Its the thing I always wear.”
Where is your favourite place to ride outside of London?
“My fantasy place: I really like riding in the rain, I’m a bit weird like that, I love wilderness, trees, water, so its Norway. One day I am going to tour Norway, disappear and throw my phone in the bin and thats my sort of fantasy really.”
“The best place to ride that I’ve been to is Catalonia. I love the Alps, its so intense. I could just keep going on and on, I just love riding bikes in different places. I really want to ride across Japan. The city I most want to ride in is Munich.”
Head over to Vulpine.cc to check out their new clothes, and keep an eye out for an imminent Hoy Vulpine launch and Vulpine events and pop-up stores in the next few months. On London Cyclist, lookout for our ongoing reviews of Vulpine gear.
Also in our interview series you can see our profile of the founder of Svelte.