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5 Questions With: Don Powell of Panache Cyclewear!

imageBoulder. It’s not just a rock. Nor is it just the town where Mork and Mindy hung out and bought suspenders and relished in their rad 80’s styles.  It’s a town of hyper-motivated folks who always have a gaggle of irons in the fire. Never resting; always moving. Probably the highest concentration of Type-A’s anywhere on earth. Amazing place, this Boulder.

Speaking of style, Boulder and its outlying area is and has been known to some of the leading sports-clothing companies on earth: Pearl Izumi and Decente? Yup, both here among a slew of others. There’s a TON of design, fabric and materials intelligencia here due to this outdoor sports and lifestyle concentration. So when an upstart like Panache Cyclewear opens its doors amongst this level of competition, they’ve got to imagebe serious.

I am SO finicky when it comes to my cycling clothing…I’m always fidgeting: un-sticking chamois from my crack, pulling bib straps back into position as they slide off my shoulder and my least favorite: trying to organize my ‘junk’ to ensure comfort. I’ve been on a quest to find the right solution…and after trying Panache’s ‘Eleven’ jersey and bib, I may have found clothing Mecca.

Intrigued, I had to reach out to Panache’s owner and proprietor, Don Powell, and get the G-2 on Panache…and yup, a perfect segue for yet another chapter of ‘5 Questions With’!

1) GK: Whatup, Don! OK, let’s get down to some history first. Tell me about the genesis of Panache. What inspired you to build out the company?

DP: To make cool shit!  To up the style quotient in cycling apparel – and to create cool technical clothing that  I…and likely any other racer…could wear while training other than our team kits.  Cycling is the only sport in the world that trains and races in the same exact kit. Look at any soccer field and they’re decked out in training kits. We need other options like that – and we weren’t happy with the cartoon / bumper sticker options available in the stores.  At the same time, I felt that the level of quality was slipping in the cycling clothing and we wanted to create fast, comfortable clothing without compromise.  Thus was born Panache.

2) Got it. I am a TOTALLY finicky freak about the fit of my clothes as after 4, 5 or 6 hours, the littlest things drive me insane and totally distract me from having a good time on the ride. Tell me a little about advantages you have in your products as well as for teams looking for good quality kits.

image DP: Time to delivery, quality and price are all variables as is fit and materials in this game.  For teams we make customizable clothing (e.g. we can put individual rider names/nicknames on their kits) on a chassis that is made for performance cyclists.  We use the latest in digital printing technology which allows us to hit any pantone (color) in vibrant color.  It also allows us to cross seams with design (so that the design matches up).  Our fabrics are top notch and most noticeably the jersey fabric is extremely pliable and wicking.  Our all-way stretch Pro-Stock chamois is what separates Panache from everyone else.  We don’t compromise and give racers a cheap ride, we give them the best.  Best means comfort AND it means performance.  The high density foam provides a bridge for blood flow and allows the rider to concentrate on going fast AND on going fast because blood doesn’t get hung up down there.

3) Bless you. My ‘nads are smiling already in anticipation of the next long ride in my Panache kit! So, let’s get down to the ‘real’ sport: What are you working on that can help outfitting cyclo-crossers for our needs?

The Eleven jersey and bib by Panache Cyclewear DP: Again the chamois is part of the equation.  Riding hard, bouncing, jumping on and off the bike… Panache smooths out the ride.  Another way we help out CX riders is in our vests and jackets.  We use a membrane technology that blocks the wind completely keeping the rider warm and dry.  We will be working closely with some of the local (Boulder) racers to improve and address some of the challenges specific to cyclo cross – and I plan on riding cross this Fall after my first immersion last season. I like the mud; I like “taking” corners; and you can’t beat the vibe at the races.  Although I haven’t raced much cross, I was actually teammates with two CX World Champions back in 1994: Radomir Simunek and Paul Herijgers, two hard working riders that taught me a bunch about training hard and paying attention to detail.

4) Classic! Herijgers is a legend! Speaking of legends, we have a boat load of them here in town as Boulder and Colorado in general seems to be the epi-center for cycling training, media and general ecosystem. Why Boulder for you and Panache? 

DP: I’m in Boulder because I love the riding, love the people, and love the weather.  Boulder is a great place for cyclists and has a heritage in cycling: the Coors Classic, the home of Davis Phinney, Andy Hampsten, and one of the epi-centers for cross.  Boulder is also a place that is evolving and growing.  There is a strong design scene here – folks like Joy Engine and Cypher13.  At the same time, the tech industry (techstars / me.dium / lijit) is growing, bringing in a more urbanite crowd.  For Panache, this is important because we are a cycling clothing company rooted in style and design that makes cool stuff - not just fast, technical clothing.  We like the convergence of sport and lifestyle.

image 5) My thoughts exactly about Boulder. That and my family THRIVES here. OK, the single most important question. Ready Don? Wellens or Nijs?

DP: The duels they have are insane, but if I had to pick, I’d go with Nijs – fluid style with a LOT of power.

Extra Points Tell us a little interesting tid-bit about your cycling past and if you can, weave in something about BEER:

DP: Good one! OK, heregoes: I rode professionally for Saxon in Belgium and we were sponsored by Brigand, a beer with a slight cidery taste; a big golden ale beer; a beer perfect for cold weather, mud, SCREAMING fans, and Cross.  How’s that for extra credit?

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