May is national bike month—the perfect time to dust off our frames and settle into our spring saddles. While this time of year speaks most strongly to cycling enthusiasts, it also has a significant affect on the world of graphic design.
This is the time of year that cycling companies release their new fashion lines. As you might guess, these are often designed by graphic designers like those at 99 designs. This article takes a closer look at the three main graphic design trends in cycling jersey design.
If there’s one thing that sells in the cycling market, it has to be performance. Cyclists everywhere are always seeking ways to go faster and farther—and cycling companies naturally want to provide apparel that will make a consumer feel like they are improving.
The method this is often achieved by—and one of the most prevalent motif in cycling jersey design—is the incorporation of “high tech” design.
In this first jersey example, we see several elements that could only come into existence through technology—fluorescent hot pink, reflective silver, geometric lines and sharp cuts. These are not organic or analog aesthetics. Further, the stripes exist in two different resolutions, both large and small—something that would be quite difficult to achieve without the exacting nature of technology and computers.
Whether functional or not, many of these features create the illusion of technological functionality. The white-dotted pink detail on the bottom hip creates the illusion of breathability, the fine striping up the side looks like venting, and the large stripes in the center emulate a sun reflection.
Similarly, in the men’s jersey to the right, we see a digitized hexagonal pattern, creating the illusion of a cooling affect. The reflective grey material communicates slickness and speed, along with a fluorescent color pop.
Keep in mind, this is all subjective. What do these design aesthetics say to you? Nothing about this design is natural—and that is perhaps the point: Many cyclists want to feel like they are utilizing technology in a futuristic way that makes them feel like better, faster and stronger cyclists.
More technological cycling jersey design ideas:
There are certain fashion designs that will simply never die. Stripes, polka dots, and camouflage are just a few examples of fashion trends that have existed for decades, and are reinterpreted in current fashion time and time again.
In cycling apparel, these classic fashion themes are just as prevalent and are often reinterpreted specifically for cycling apparel.
Take the polka-dot cycling jersey to the left for example. Following the technology-inspired style of cycling jersey design, these classic spots get a technological makeover.
Commonly polka-dot designs use even sizing and spacing. In cycling shirts, however, we see more digitization with precise halftones. The ratio between white and red is flipped in this transition, creating a sense of technological control and exploration.
Similarly, in the example to the right, we see a classic camouflage pattern reinterpreted. This camouflage pattern gets “sifted” through a negative-space mesh pattern, which creates the effect of the camo existing behind the base jersey material.
This is another way cycling apparel absorbs the appearance technology—in playing with the illusion of convergence between physical materials and 2-dimensional design.
More fun cycling jersey patterns:
Lastly, cycling jerseys often inherits the fashion trends all apparel does—with similar sensibilities to what’s seen on runways, t-shirts and look-books. In other words, cycling apparel designers aren’t afraid to put a hip design on a jersey. No technology, no illusions, just eye-candy, from computer to jersey.
In the left example, we see a geometric, psychedellic pattern that bleeds off the edges of the seems similar to many t-shirt over-prints. There is no real concern for the dimensions and cuts of the jersey, and it feels intentional. This design is strictly about fashion.
It’s not about technology or cliches, and there is certainly a market for that. Some cyclists just want to look cool! A cyclist wearing this jersey is certainly out to get looks.
Lastly, we see familiar t-shirt subject matter; space, astronauts and bicycles. Yet again, cycling apparel has a tendency to enhance these trends. In this example, textural and color gradients are heavily implemented throughout the various curves and shapes of the jersey.
The composition is less concise than ones commonly seen on t-shirt designs featuring similar subject matter. This jersey design aims to overwhelm, amuse and astonish—in the way that high fashion often makes your jaw drop.
More modern cycling jersey designs:
When thinking about cycling jersey design, it can be extremely helpful to be understand what’s popular. Use this article as a guide to find out what direction you might like to explore. Are you (or your client) more of a fashionista or a performance athlete? Or are you drawn to old-fashion, classic patterns?