One of the nice ladies that made our new kit in Italy
Recently, one of our far-flung correspondents visited the Nalini apparel factory in Italy – the same factory that produced our new Bike Hugger team kits. He filed this report:
The Nalini / MOA Sport facility in located in the small Italian paese (village) of Castel d’Ario, just a few clicks down the road from the historic city of Verona. Castel d’Ario is a mix of agriculture and industry, with fields of rice and groves of poplars (harvested for paper) pushing up against industrial buildings.
One of which is the ultra-modern Nalini / MOA Sport complex. The moment one enters the building it’s apparent this company is devoted to professional cycling. Signed jerseys and historic photos adorn every wall. Mario Cipollini, Ivan Basso, Franco Pellizotti (to name but a few), plus framed mementos of MOA Sport founder Vicenzo Mantovani. It could easily double as a pro cycling museum.
About Vincenzo. In the early 1960s, Vincenzo was one of Italy’s premier cyclists, whose palmares includes a runner-up finish in the sprint pursuit at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. His Silver Medal hangs on the wall above the receptionist. Vincenzo’s brother, Claudio was an elite soccer star. When he wasn’t playing for A.C. Milan, he was kicking it for the Italian national team. They started the company in 1970, committed to serving the professional cyclist. Today, Claudio oversees MOA Sport and Nalini. (His brother passed away several years ago.)
Nalini and MOA Sport outfit at least half the riders in the pro peloton, in gear made entirely on site in Castel d’Ario. And that is not an exaggeration. Nalini / MOA is a classic vertical business, controlling all aspects of apparel design and construction – fabric spinning, garment fit and design, material preparation, graphic design, sublimation dye (the heat transfer process that puts the color, design and graphics into the fabric), sewing and construction, and quality control. (Each item even goes through a metal detector ensuring that a stray sewing needle doesn’t made an escape.)
There is no “off-season” at Nalini. After the busy winter season making pro team kits, the 300 employees continue building team replica gear for all the Nalini / MOA Sport pro-sponsored teams, as well as crafting the Nalini Collections for serious every-day riders – Summer, Winter, Base, Underwear, and Shoes.
At the time of our visit, the 2014 Nalini Summer Collection was being shipped worldwide, while the 2014 Nalini Winter Collection was being presented to key customers across Europe. In addition, Nalini and MOA do a considerable amount of private label production for other brands. What brands you ask? Sorry, can’t tell. But you’d be surprised at the marque brands who rely on Nalini’s expertise and unique production capability.
As you follow this season’s pro races and grand tours, keep an eye on the Nalini and MOA Sport teams. As you do, remember that each pro cyclist requires up to 60 individual pieces of clothing, from bibshorts and jerseys to shoe covers and gloves. A change in design – a new sponsor, perhaps – requires 60 new pieces for each team member. Few companies have the capability to pull this off.
All the Nalini Collections, as well all the replica team gear, are imported into the US by Albabici, located in Oxnard, California. For all the celeste green Bianchi buffs reading Bike Hugger, Albabici also imports the Bianchi Milano clothing line, made by – you guessed it – Nalini.