ASSOS has had a turbulent relationship with female cyclists throughout its history. The Swiss brand founded by Toni Maier-Moussa in 1976 has always been known for creating excellent quality apparel, but their marketing has been used for a long time as the prime example of ‘what not to do’.
Scantily clad, or wearing jerseys with leather trousers and heels, ASSOS women have generally not appeared to be the picture of athleticism and grit and most magazines with women at the helm have refused to feature them in product reviews – TWC included.
This is a shame – especially since their new CEO Phil Duff tells us that despite the 18 World Tour Teams of the pro peloton being supplied by 13 different brands (none of whom are ASSOS), 70 per cent of riders have an ASSOS chamois sewn into their shorts. If that’s true, then they’ve got to make a good chamois.
However, change is afoot. The company was bought by a selection of investors – including ski brand Black Diamond CEO Phil Duff, last year. ASSOS hosted an event at London’s Design Museum on Wednesday to share their history and heritage, and celebrate their changing approach. They’re so focused on an ‘about turn’ in terms of women’s marketing, that next month they’re hosting an evening discussion at LookMumNoHands! – the very location where they were pinpointed at the recent ‘Women and Cycling Media’ debate as an example of what’s wrong with marketing of women’s cycling apparel.
The London Design Museum event saw over 120 guests from the industry enjoy a Q+A with Toni Maier, presented by OJ Borg from the BBC cycling podcast BeSpoke, and an outline of the recent changes given by new team member Phil Duff. As well as the two events, and giving us an exclusive interview, ASSOS also revealed they’re opening a mono brand store in Regents Street, London. They really are getting closer to the customer – a failing Duff told us that has impacted them in the past.
We caught up with new CEO Phil Duff to find out more about how the marketing for the long time black sheep of cycling has changed…