The story of Castelli is one of constant innovation, passion, success and tragedy. We need to look back a very long way to start our journey. Castelli can trace its history back 140 years to 1876 the location is a small tailoring shop in Milan founded by Vittore Gianni. Through the years, Vittore Gianni clothed AC Milan, Juventus, and the Milan Ballet with a knowledge of sports clothing and movement cycling was destined to follow. The first cycling specific clothing he made was in 1910 for the world champion and five-time Giro champion Alfredo Binda.
The Company took a more definitive turn toward cycling in 1935, when a young Armando Castelli became a part of Gianni's staff.
Four years later in 1939 Armando Castelli purchased the company from Gianni, and the real story kicks into gear. Armando continued Gianni's support of high profile clients which by the late 40s included a veritable who's who of cycling hero's, Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Van Looy, and Anquetil, where all kitted out by Castelli and along the way the workshop expanded its efforts to also start supplying a handful of professional teams, at this time the clothing although made by Castelli was still under the Vittore Gianni name.
Cycling history took another turn in 1948 when Armando's son, Maurizio was born that was the real start of the Castelli brand as we know it today. The youngster grew up in cycling, and it was only logical that he would end up in the family business. However, the extent of his passion and desire for innovation would soon cause a parting of ways with his father and lead to the founding of the Castelli name as a cycling brand in its own right. The year was 1974.and the new companies logo -- you guessed it this year also saw the iconic scorpion surface.
It wasn't long before the firsts began to roll out with regularity soon after.
Castelli went on to created apparel that defined modern cycling. Eddy Merckx carried a refined version of a Castelli body suit to the world record in the one-hour. Bernard Hinault wore a Castelli windproof jersey to win the Fleche Wallone classic the list goes on...
But perhaps most importantly, Maurizio pioneered the sublimation dye process, an advance that allowed colors, logos, and his signature aesthetic flair to be added to even the most technical fabric. Cycling -- and sponsorships -- would never be the same again.
On the 9th November 1979. Castelli was crowned with the prestigious Corriere dello Sport Discobolo award. The presentation letter says, "Castelli... has, in a truly futuristic way, revolutionized clothing for cyclists."
Maurizio also demonstrated a flamboyant flair for publicity and rule flaunting.
At the 1981 Giro, for instance, he outfitted a handful of riders with turquoise Lycra shorts -- at a time when only black shorts were allowed. The riders came to the start line wearing black wool leggings that concealed the banned burst of color. Then moments before the start, the riders yanked off the leggings and ....
Well a media frenzy followed, including day-long television coverage of the turquoise-- and scorpion--clad riders crossing the Italian countryside. Race officials of course fined Castelli for the stunt. But no matter, the publicity was worth every lire.
Then tragically In 1995, Maurizio's life was cut short at the age of only 47 when he died of a heart attack riding up the Cipressa (the legendary ascent on the Milan-San Remo course).
It would be difficult to overstate Maurizio Castelli's contribution to the sport and business of cycling.
Maurizio's guiding philosophy was to combine technology with innovative style and design.
The focus on innovation at Castelli is not a slogan, it's a mantra of sorts. The passion and desire of Maurizio Castelli to create enhancing performance clothing is just as evident today at Castelli as it was in 1974. Each and every day Castelli sets out to create tomorrow's revolutionary futuristic clothing.
Castelli has been at the forefront of essentially every breakthrough in cycling clothing since making the wool shorts obsolete.
"I would never have been able to revolutionize cycling clothing if I hadn't raced. It's the only way to gain a true understanding of what's involved."
Castelli traces its roots back to a fine tailor (Vittore Gianni) in the heart of Milan, founded in 1876. Through the years, Vittore Gianni clothed AC Milan, Juventus, and the Milan Ballet.
The first cycling clothing was made in the 1910s for the world champion and five-time Giro champion Alfredo Binda.
The business changed course in 1935 when a young Armando Castelli joined Gianni's staff and in 1939 purchased the company.
Castelli maintained Vittore Gianni's high‑profile clients, which by the late 1940s included the cycling heroes Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi.
Armando's son, Maurizio was born. He grew up following the races of Fausto Coppi who always wore Vittore Gianni clothing, including the first silk skin suits designed for Fausto's time trials.
And it didn't stop there, Louison Bobet, Raphael Gimignani, Rik Van Looy and Jacques Anquetil wore the Vittore Gianni apparel, including up to 12 pro teams that were clothed by Vittore Gianni in these years.
An early version of the Castelli scorpion logo fashioned by Maurizio for his newly formed brand first appeared.
FIRST LYCRA SHORTS
Castelli innovates again when introducing the first aerodynamic Lycra® shorts used in racing and sold to the public.
REVOLUTION I INNOVATION RECOGNISED
Castelli was crowned with the prestigious Corriere dello Sport Discobolo award. "Castelli has in a truly futuristic way, revolutionize clothing for cyclists".
THE FIRST COLORED SHORTS
At the 1981 Giro, Maurizio outfitted a handful of riders with the first colored Lycra® shorts (in turquoise) at a time when only black shorts were allowed.
FIRST SUBLIMATION PRINT AND WINDPROOF JERSEY
Castelli pioneered the sublimation dye process with the first sublimation printing of jerseys which allowed graphics such as sponsor's names to be printed directly on fabric.
Additionally Bernard Hinault wore the first windproof jersey in the pro peloton to help him win that years iconic Fleche Wallonne classic in typical Belgium weather.
FIRST THERMAL CLOTHING
Francesco Moser wearing and testing the first functional thermal clothing at Paris-Roubaix.
In the late 80's and early 90's Castelli supplied the leader jerseys at the Giro d'italia and Tour de France as well as a dozen of pro teams.
A SAD MOMENT
Maurizio's life was cut tragically short at the still young age 47 when he died of a heart attack riding up the Cipressa - the legendary ascent on the Milan-San Remo course.
FIRST WOMAN COLLECTION - CASTELLI GOES AERO
Maurizio's vision to create the most innovative clothing continued being the driving force of the company. And In 1996, the first fully aerodynamic skin-suit was introduced for the Atlanta Olympics.
Castelli also equipped the Italian national cycling team, including Paola Pezzo when she won the Olympic gold medal in mountain biking.
That same year, Castelli introduced the first women's specific cycling collection.
WICKING FABRIC TREATMENT AND Y-CUT PAD
The Castelli equipped, Team Once with Abraham Olano wore the first jersey with a technical wicking fabric treatment (Prosecco).
That same year, Castelli innovation also bought the first modern truly anatomic seat-pad, the Y-cut seat-pad.
REVOLUTIONIZING RACE CLOTHING
Castelli revolutionizes race clothing supplying Team Saunier Duval with the first aero race jersey, the first aero bib-shorts, and the lightest jersey ever produced and used in Pro-cycling.
The same year the Giro leg band is introduced when all other cycling shorts have a tight, thin, uncomfortable gripper elastic, and completely changes cycling shorts in just 4 years.
For the performance cyclist, a new way of dressing for cold winter days was introduced with the first radiating insulation system seen in cycling clothing (Radiation).
REINVENTING THE BIBSHORT
Body Paint, a single piece of fabric bib-short with most components integrated into the seamless fabric. It simply felt like you had nothing on.
COLD AND WET -- Gabba and Nano Flex
Castelli is first to bring nano-technology to cycling with Nano Flex proprietary water repellent fabrics that shed water but without membranes that inhibit breathability.
With the Cervelo-TestTeam, the need to improve clothing for cold and wet conditions saw the birth of a modern icon - the Gabba WS jersey, the first all-weather aerodynamic protection in the peloton. It wasn't long before half the peloton (irrespective of kit sponsors ) adopted the Gabba as the go to piece for cold wet racing
SANREMO SPEED SUIT
Johan Van Summeren takes Paris-Roubaix with the first ever skin-suit made for road racing, Our Speed Suits are developed to steal away seconds.
BODY PAINT 3.0 SPEED SUIT
Ryder Hesjedal wins the Giro d'Italia taking the Maglia Rosa on the final days time trial overcoming a 30 second deficit to win by 16 seconds Ryder was wearing the most engineered time-trial suit, the Body Paint 3.0 speed suit for those most important 30km of his career.
THE INNOVATIONS SHOW NO SIGN OF SLOWING
Castelli continue to race continue to listen and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in cycling clothing every year new innovations abound or existing concept are refined. In addition to clothing Castelli is committed to making the life of a cyclist comfier in general. Castelli have recently introduced specific cyclist based luggage everything from seat packs to rain bags for the race cars and roller bags for our team riders -- Castelli have also bought out a skincare range again unique in the cycling market it goes on wet and dries instantly to provide highly breathable friction free antibacterial protection. And you only have to look at our crew collection to see that Castelli are committed to making life of the mechanics and bike washers as easy as possible too.
This story appears in another format on CastelliCycling
This version was compiled and elaborated on by Adrian Yate