On Friday the 25th of November, 2022 I cycled across town for the only Black Friday event I could even pretend to care about. Black Friday traditionally marks the point in the year where businesses sell off stock at a reduced price to go “into the black” (from being in the red). It has spurious origins in failed investments in bullion and has come to be a landmark in the consumerism calendar. While it is an absurd nonsense on a planet choked by the relentless manufacture and marketing of tat, you can’t blame small businesses for joining in, because small and independent businesses are the ones that most need to go from “the red” into “the black”. In terms of joining in, by acknowledging the absurdity of “Black Friday” no one did a better job than London based Albion Cycling.
As part of their mission statement to “get people outside for longer” the whole team set up at iconic “cycle cafe” Look Mum No Hands, to offer a whole day of free repairs to any cycling garment made by any manufacturer. When I stumbled in with holes burned in my shoes by 500 firework wilding teenagers in Girona, and my ass hanging out of torn Guantanamo orange trousers, designer, Graham Rayburn was putting the finishing touches onto a mauled and shredded Rapha jacket that he’d designed in his time working at Rapha years earlier, back from the grave of obsolescence and away from landfill. A little table set up at the back of the room with a sewing machine and a heat press, with little box repair patches staffed by a more than capable crew, not selling anything, fixed both my trousers and the holes in my shoes.
I left, having not spent a penny, all fixed up and with a free pack of repair patches to use at home. Albion are a small but growing business with a tiny team designing and prototyping in house in London. Working and reworking ideas in their small studio in Greenwich. Their dedication to their mission statement sets them apart from other manufacturers working at the same scale, and their dedication to being an encouraging and empowering force in the cycling community is exemplary. From free lifetime repairs to their support of the ultra-distance scholarship, a number of athletes and grass roots events, to their garments which are designed around utility longevity and repairability. I can’t see another clothing manufacturer so dedicated to making cycling accessible and inclusive. I’m a huge fan and I can’t wait to catch up with the team in their studio in London to take a closer look at their process.