As you may have seen, we’ve been celebrating our 10th birthday in 2020. Though, fair enough if not, there’s been a few other things taking up the news. What can you do…
We all agreed our main goal this year wasn’t to dwell on the past but use this important and proud milestone to look ahead to what we’ll be doing for the next ten. How we’re trying to be more sustainable, make better products and work with more amazing people.
That being said, it wouldn’t be an anniversary without a quick flick back through the archives. Because after all, Milltag has been more than just a business to us. It’s been a chance to enjoy life in a way we may not have been able to otherwise. We wouldn’t have met some of the characters who’ve enthralled us, been to the places that we’ve explored or enjoyed for the first time or been able to look fondly at the work we’ve done.
So Milltag, please come on through that dry ice because THIS IS YOUR LI… No just kidding that’s too cheesy.
Ten years, ten moments. Five from Ed, five from Pete.
Here’s the start of the next decade.
1/ Wiggo giving approval to the first jersey - Ed - 2010
He wasn’t really “Wiggo” back then.
Yes, he was an Olympic Champion but his move to the road was a moment when the seeds of Milltag were sewn. We were the new boys on the block, the underdogs with a passion to change things in a very niche sport. Cheering for Brad and Cav was exotic and inspiring; a different world only ten years ago.
With this air of youthful exuberance Milltag started with the aim to create limited edition cycling jerseys by ourselves and other artists we liked that shared our excitement for the sport.
So under my own moniker of ‘Cowburned’, I went about creating a design inspired by Wiggo coming fourth in the Tour in 2009. Complete with mod and scooter references and in the colours of the Garmin team it seems a little naive in it’s style now but then designers can keep working on a project forever and never be totally happy with it.
It seemed to catch the mood of a small group of cyclists and we sold about 30 of those jerseys which was a huge lift for the Milltag idea. But in an easier and nicer era of social media I was able to reach out to Brad on Twitter and get his blessing in return for jerseys for him and in due course the rest of the Wiggins clan. I lived out on that for quite a while; my claim to fame...
Bradley Wiggins spoke to me directly on Twitter.
There’s no doubt that by 2012 and beyond we couldn’t have done this jersey without contracts and cash changing hands as Wiggomania and cycling in Britain exploded. So thanks Brad for laying the foundation for Milltag and what came after.
Wiggo - signing the Milltag x Cowburned “Wiggo” jersey of Mark Jackson.
2/ Berlin show / Rad Race - Pete - 2014
By 2014 we’d attended a few bike shows but The Berllin Fahrad Show was our first Eurpoean excursion. We loaded up the van and set off from Ladbroke Grove for the 800 mile road trip. Getting there was an adventure in itself and the show was great, really well attended and lots of interest in Milltag, and the bottles of London Pride we’d bought along to share. We sold a pile of stock and made some good friends along the way. In the evening we attended the inaugural Rad Race on go-cart track in Templehof, peak hipster Berlin - a truly memorable night.
As a footnote, the van broke down on the way out of Berlin and we had to abandon it and the stock by the side of the road, It would be a month before we could repatriate it but even this unfortunate event doesn’t diminish the memory of that great trip.
3/ Tour de Yorkshire - Ed - 2015
“Would Milltag be interested in making the kit for [the first] Tour De Yorkshire?” - A question from a senior member of the Welcome to Yorkshire team that I found difficult to comprehend.
I had broken my ankle less than a week earlier and was highly medicated on pain killers that, while helping with wild creative thinking, were not good for sensible commercial conversation.
(editors note - to this point we are unaware of any transactions being completed under the influence of any over-the-counter pain medication. On occasion, business has been conducted post-consumption of some beer)
Thankfully the conversation moved on over the next few days and I was able to function without medication and a deal was done. The Yorkshire collection we’d done to celebrate the Tour coming to Yorkshire got us on the radar of the team putting this new race together and it was a no-brainer for us to step up and create the designs for the inaugural edition.
I look back on the design with fondness and considering the deadline was so tight, I think we delivered a set of jerseys that were unique, contemporary and truly inspired by Yorkshire’s history as a key world centre for fabric manufacture.
It was also a very valuable experience for us to work on a race of that size and for the winners to pull on our jerseys on the podium at the end of the first stage was a major highlight for both myself and the brand. We got very good feedback from the riders and race organisers about the quality of our products. It had really galvanised what we do and our desire to improve and expand the brand.
Plus, I got to be interviewed by Radio Leeds and had a picture in the Yorkshire Post so two life goals ticked off there for a lad born in Leeds.
Watching Stage two of the first Tour De Yorkshire from the back of an ASO Maserati. Not a bad day.
4/ Top Bonk Van / KVV / Eurosport - Pete - 2016
We launched the Top Bonk Kit for legendary cycling impresario Kenny Van Vlammick in 2015 and for the Spring Classics season the following year we’d acquired a team bus in the shape of an old Citroen minivan for reasons which aren’t quite clear, then or now. We’d arranged an interview with Europsort’s Carlton Kirby where Kenny would pass his judgement on the upcoming races. A somewhat surreal and hilarious afternoon - one of those occasions where I wasn’t quite sure what we were doing, and why, and was all the better for it.
5/ Designing National and Worlds kit - Ed - 2016
Having ticked off designing kit for a Pro team (Matrix) and Winner’s jerseys (Tour de Yorkshire) the one I really wanted was creating jerseys with the bands of a National or even World Champion.
That opportunity came thanks to Matrix and their big hitters of first Laura Kenny and then Elinor Barker.
Whilst the designs have very little room to manoeuvre and a lot of time is taken measuring sponsor logos it’s one of the greatest thrills to have a Milltag logo above those rainbow bands.
Probably as cheesy as it gets - with Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker at Revolution, December 2016
6/ Riding Mt Diablo, new pro Jersey launch - Pete - 2016
We had the opportunity to visit San Francisco for a week in November 2016- why the hell not?, We’d started working with Mission Cycle Club and signed up a new distributor in the region. Mainly though it was an opportunity to ride in perfect weather and launch some new products. We rode out through the city to the Marin Headlands with the Mission crew, rode laps in Golden Gate Park and took the train over the bay to climb Mount Diablo. This was the first outing for the new Pro Jersey, and we’d arrange to borrow a couple of Titanium Gravel bikes for the shoot. A great trip only slightly marred by Donald Trump being announced president as we landed back in the UK.
7/ Dressing up as a Stormtrooper - Ed - 2017
Man it’s hard riding a bike wearing a Stormtrooper suit.
I did it for a whole day to film our love letter to Star Wars as part of the marketing for our collaboration with Shepperton Design.
Someone else can do it next time.
Watch the video
8/ Pete’s trip to Colombia - Pete - November 2017
I’m fortunate to have travelled to South and Central America but never to Colombia. We signed a distribution deal with Velo Colombia and the invite to visit and ride was too good to miss. I wrote about this trip here - a truly incredible few days and one i’ll never forget for all the right reasons, and a few wrong ones too - looking at you, Letras. Our partnership with Velo Colombia continues to grow along with the global profile of Colombian cycling in general. And yes, we still have our lucky bar of El Rey in the studio.
9/ Collaborating with bands - Since 2011
It started with a chance meeting with an acquaintance that looked after the merch for Pixies in 2011. Apparently guitarist Joey Santiago was a cyclist and had asked if they could get some cycling jerseys made. Right place, right time. Milltag has become the go to brand for cyclists with a love for classic indie bands including Public Image Limited, The Wedding Present, Ride, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Carter USM and The Fall.
Most recently we have worked with design legend Peter Saville’s covers for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” and New Order’s “Power Corruption and Lies” including a new coded message for the sleeve as per the reverse of the original LP artwork.
Stay tuned in 2021 for more to add to the Milltag music roster.
Joseph Santiago rocking the original Pixies jersey in 2012.
10/ Oman - Pete - February 2018
Early 2018 was quite a tricky time for the business and we nearly pulled out of our Jersey sponsorship for the Tour of Oman. If the client wasn't the ASO we probably would have done. I was on a ski-ing holiday for half term when the office started to send through the most incredible images from the race; Mark Cavendish in the Green jersey, Greg Van Avermet in the leaders jersey, stunning desert scenery. Immediately our outlook changed and we couldn’t wait to get out there. Overnight, I swapped the snow-capped alps for a different mountain view atop Oman’s green mountain and a summit finish won by a then relatively unknown Superman Lopez wearing our white jersey. The next morning Ed and I were in the team car to follow the final stage, a pretty proud moment to see all the race leaders lined up in our jerseys at the start line. Milltag had come a long way in a few short years,...not bad for a couple of lads from up north.