At some point in about February this year I opened my cycling kit drawer and pulled the various Lycra and merino wool items this way and that, looking for the jersey that most summed up how I felt that day and what sort of ride I was after. I probably hoiked a few pieces out, thought about how hot or windproof they might be, but overall felt pretty uninspired about the options I faced with half of my kit likely awaiting a wash in the first place.
This was when I begun my quest into finding an incredible new jersey, pledging not to settle for something that was merely aesthetically OK or on offer. I wanted something that was unique and had a lot of thought stitched into it – and also something you were unlikely to spot around the Cheshire lanes.
My search was long. My search was tireless. My search was, well… pretty interesting. Look beyond the big online retailers and brands with deep pockets and ye shall find some gems.
After visiting lots of sites and browsing many photos and product descriptions, I was pretty chuffed to stumble across an Instagram post announcing a new range by ex-pro Iris Slappendel inspired by a trip to Japan. I posted about my excitement at the time and when the kit went on sale it definitely didn’t disappoint.
I was immediately drawn to the Kochi jersey for its mix of soft pastels, angular lines and intricate detail. It was pretty unlike anything I’d seen before and really refreshing to know that it’s design had come out of a brilliant adventure with wonderful people, rather than a mood board for Spring/Summer ‘18 following the latest trends.
Here’s what Iris has to say on the design:
Imagine green mountain ranges, beautiful free flowing rivers, spectacular rice fields terraces and a rugged coastline. And then imagen you’re riding through all of this early April, when the cherry blossoms ‘Sakura’ have reached full bloom. This jersey is inspired on, and named after a beautiful place where we fell in love with Japan. Hopefully you fall in love with the design – and then go ride your bike in Japan!
Tech-wise it ticks a lot of boxes, with a lightweight, breathable fabric and mesh panels across the back and sides to keep things cool. The sleeves are a good length (on the long side) and it definitely doesn’t ride up. I also like the low profile neckline to be nice and aero if you do it all the way up, while having a relaxed look with no flapping fabric if you pull the zip down a bit.
There are three good-sized pockets across the back and a further zipped pocket, so plenty of space for loading up on snacks. As it points out on the website though, the jersey was designed to have a true pro fit so they do come up slim. I’m a UK 6-8 and went for an XS which is pretty bang on.
The jersey washes well and has stood up well to some pretty heavy use over the summer both on a trip around the north coast of Scotland and trying to make the most of the crazy hot weather this year. Unfortunately sun cream might not be its best friend as the back of the collar is slightly discoloured, but this is really minor and probably to be expected when introducing any light top to liberal application of SPF50 to avoid burning to a crisp.
In summary I would rate this as probably my favourite and highest performing summer jersey – plus I’ve had lots of positive comments on its unfamiliar design and brand. It’s also cool to know that it was created by someone with such a close relationship to the sport and who clearly knows how important it is to wear comfortable kit.
To view the rest of the range, go visit i-ris.cc (which stands for I ride in style). This one comes in at €99 (which is currently about £86), but there are a few other beautiful designs in the collection along with some shorts that I am pretty tempted by.
The only downside? Finding matching socks. But then Iris has thought of that, too.