Simple Yet Classy?

In the 90’s when I joined my first club, their kit was pretty simple. At that time neon colors were popular, kits were fairly simple in terms of design. The guy who was responsible for designing the kit was someone who was not a graphic artist by profession but a guy who had “more” talent than anyone else in the club. It was really “design by committee”. He’d come up with designs and many people who knew what they liked but had no eye for composition, color saturation effect etc would make suggestions and design edits. So the designer had to alter his vision for the kit to fit the unattainable approval of the “committee”. You can never satisfy everyone as far as design color, design elements, etc so what we ended up with was a simple and conservative design. Keep in mind that the majority of people that get into bicycle racing are those that are not necessarily the most stylish of individuals, typical outsider/geek types. Simple and conservative designs by nature will always appeal to their style sensibilities.

simple yet classy. The new buzzwords for a good kit design.

I understand why many assign this descriptive phrasing to the current kit designs you now see. A simple or minimalistic design can be classy yet to us, they are mutually exclusive terms. What is classy about a design that is simple yet ineffective in conveying an intense emotional response from the viewer? What is classy about a design that is simple yet does not enhance the overall design by complimenting the feature logos? If simple yet classy is an absolute, wouldn’t a plain white jersey with minimal logos be a simple design? A classy design?

A much more creative design can be classy as well if it achieves the overall effectiveness of a good design without being garish or cartoonish.  Designing simple for sake of being simple is not designing, it is being safe. For us, artists can not and should not design to be “safe”, we should explore and push the envelope of creativity. If you are a designer and your team/club/client wants a “simple” design, you can deliver that but there is no need to avoid adding some creative elements to it if that enhances and does not distract from the overall look and still meet the expectations of the team.

Look at your typical bicycle shop kit; simple. Often the “designer” is someone who works at the shop, has some level of talent compared to everyone else so he gets the job of designing the shop kit. The owner knows that the kit has to appeal to a broad range of customers, so guess what kind of kit the designer comes up with, yep…simple. No one is offended, most are satisfied.

The first year that the professional Leopard Trek team came out with their retro type kit design, some people criticized it for being too plain yet others said it was simple yet classy. Were the simple yet classy crowd really saying “yes, it is plain but I like plain so therefor it is classy“?  I don’t know but a new trend was underway. The following year many pro teams had similar designs and right away, retro shop kits and club kits became fashionable.

When Garmin-Chipotle pro team used an Argyle motif in their designs, I don’t recall prior to that seeing any kits that had Argyle as a element in their design. But you guessed it, after that…follow the leader. Cycling is a very traditional sport with traditional ways of doing things. Some aspects of the sport have not changed so it is no surprise that from a design perspective, styles have slowly evolved. The parameters of what is an acceptable designs have narrowed considerably. There is a good book called The Jersey Project. It is amazing to see some of the jersey designs from over 20 or 30 years ago look as though they can hold their own against the current kits designs you see in 2014! Current art can drawn its influences from the past, there is no surprise there.

BettiniQSThe beauty of art is that it is and can be so subjective. Not everyone has the same taste, so you are always going to get considerable debate about what is good, classy, over-the-top etc. As a designer, you have to create compositions and design elements that will result in an overall design concept that works (however you qualify this). People will always want something simple in kit design, some will like a little more creativity.

If you like simple, most companies will take your design and produce it exactly as you want. Most graphic artists at these companies will rarely offer any changes that may improve your design, they have other orders to work on so any additional design time they have is limited. Why should they make more work for themselves? They can’t spend a lot of time on your designs even if it means making your design better, we don’t believe in that way of thinking. We work with our clients to make sure their idea is explored to its fullest, we will take the time to make sure it is done right and exceed your expectations.

At D Dub Custom Sportswear, we think designs don’t necessarily need to besimple to be classy. There should also be room for other creative visions in that design discussion. The term tasteful when describing a simple or super creative design would be a more inclusive term to use when looking at the overall effectiveness of a design.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

-Pablo Picasso


Passionate about cycling, art, music and any other creative form of expression.

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