INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPER: 60 SECONDS WITH FIGATA CICLISMO FOUNDER ANDERS BERENDT
We’re always excited to find new, independent cyclewear brands. We recently discovered Danish cycling brand Figata Ciclismo and this week we’re chatting to the brand’s founder, former pro cyclist Anders Berendt. Anders was Denmark’s National Champion five times before reaching senior level but was forced to quit the pro circuit after suffering an injury at the age of 21. We think you’ll agree that pro cycling’s loss, however, is cyclewear’s gain.
Anders, what is it about cycling that makes you happy?
It depends on the situation. I started riding when I was 8 years old (and now I am 30). I had to find a sport as a hobby, and the Tour de France just seemed very interesting on television. I decided I had to try this sport. A few weeks later I won the first cycling race I competed in. I made some incredible friendships through the sport as a child. As I got older and the sport became more serious, I was happy about the experiences I gained, travelling the world and competing in the big races. It is only now, after my cycling career came to an end, that I think about how great it feels to ride a racing bike. But one thing that really satisfied me as a pro was travelling to Tuscany in the mountains of Italy. I love the city of Montecatini Terme, which is my second home. I was happy every time I went for a ride in the beautiful Italian countryside.
Now that my professional career has come to an end, cycling makes me happy in a different way. Now I have time to enjoy nature, the wind and the freedom, without feeling any pressure to go out in the bad weather and ride for 150 kilometres a day setting a new personal record.
If you could cycle anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would like to discover New Zealand by bike. I have heard so much about the country’s natural beauty. I would also like to cycle in Hawaii.
What inspired you to move into the world of cycling apparel?
After my pro cycling career ended, I had to buy my own cycling apparel as I didn’t have any sponsors to support me anymore. I didn’t really find the quality good enough on the smaller brands I discovered back then. I must admit, I was a little afraid to look like an old man on a bike going for a ride each Thursday and finish it of with a beer — not that I don’t do this sometimes (and it makes me happy to), but I want to be able to show that I know what I am doing on a bike… looking like a pro in a passionate kind of way. I like to have style when I go for a ride, and I was sure I wasn’t the only one who wanted that.
I have since discovered that there are many other brands who create some really nice cycling apparel, but I do feel that my background as a pro rider and a graduate Design Technologist means I have something unique to contribute to the cycling community around the world. My sister also helps me a lot since she holds a degree in Fashion Design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Only 12 students are admitted each year. It helps to know I have the best possible backup when I need help in the design process!
Which other brands do you admire? Who’s producing exciting kit in your opinion?
I really like a brand like Mirra Collective: they have a unique identity and you can see that their clothing has a clear vision behind it. It seems like they have a plan, and they stick to it.
I also have to mention Rapha. Even though I hate to say it, I do have enormous respect for them. I feel about Rapha the same way I felt about my worst competitors in my cycling career. I respect them, but I want to beat them! My brand is quite different from Rapha, but still much the same. Every Time I Google “Rapha” and see that they describe themselves as “The World’s Finest Cycling Clothing and Accessories…” I feel kind of disrespected! Every time I read it, I just want to do better. I make sure to read it each week. I think this is how my background as an athlete is moving Figata forward as a company. Rapha is a motivation for our brand to create the world’s future leading cycling apparel for the discerning cyclist, but I understand it’s a process and it will take time.
I also like two brands from Australia, Volero and MAAP, plus m o n o from London. I also follow a company called Lumiere Cycling — even though it’s not really my style, I like to take inspiration from the best creative designers in the business. Mirra, Volero, Lumiere, m o n o and MAAP are great inspiration combined. Follow @FigataCiclismo on Instagram and you can see other influential designers that we’re following. Mirra is my favourite though, after Figata Ciclismo of course! ;)
What is your current favourite ride?
My favourite road in Denmark is “Strandvejen” in the summertime. You will meet a lot of like minded cyclists on the road and you have a great view from Denmark over the sea to Sweden with expensive million dollar houses along the way. On the way you will pass several great coffee stops.
You’ll find my all-time favourite ride in Tuscany, Italy. I like to go from Montecatini Terme city and pass the Montecatini Alto climb, which is approximately 15 kilometres long, then turn around, going back down the hill with the view across the Montecatini and Tuscany area. From Montecatini Terme there are so many great roads to discover, including the legendary Monte Serra mountain where you’ll find many pro cyclists riding each day. Cities like Prato, Piza, Lucca and Firenze are within riding distance if you are up for a great trip… the coastline is also a great way to go to. You will pass the top of the last mountain with an amazing view over the sea before going downhill to the seafront. It’s beautiful.
If you could go for a bike ride with anyone at all, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would like to go for a ride with the legendary Marco Pantani and ask what really happened to him.
What song is guaranteed to get you in the mood for a ride, no matter what time you went to bed?
There are a lot of great songs I am listening to! At the moment I’m listening to Morning Glory by Poldoore , LeFynkyIntro by Saint and Back Home by MYNGA. My all time favourite song is Gettin’ Jiggy With It by Will Smith… When I hear that song, I am ready for anything.
What has been your cycling highlight of 2016 so far?
Oh, that’s a difficult question for me. It would have been much easier to answer that back when I had my pro career going on…
Hmm, my cycling highlight in 2016 must be the day I invited some of my old cycling friends to a Figata Ciclismo photoshoot. I needed some models for our apparel riding our bikes. It was just like when we were 10 years old again, even though we haven’t been speaking to each other for years. It was great!
And finally: what’s in store for Figata Ciclismo? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the coming year?
First of all, we’ll launch some new designs for autumn/winter. As we speak, we are testing new samples for a very cool indoor kit designed for use in the local fitness centre or on your home trainer. Zwift’s indoor cycling concept has changed the way people are training indoors, and Figata wants to deliver a great quality, great looking kit designed for indoor use. At the same time we’ll launch a few more jersey designs.
Next year we’ll follow and support the Danish ironman rider Rasmus Næblerød who is going to compete in the European Championship in Ironman. Rasmus will develop a triathlon kit with Figata Ciclismo and we’ll follow his journey with videos, pictures and interviews along the way when he is preparing for the competition.
Our company strategy is, of course, secret, but in relation to design, we believe in a flexible and adaptive design process. We know we have to make quick decisions at the right time if we want to build the world’s future leading cycling brand and we are excited not knowing exactly what designs we launch in 2017… we’ll have to see what is trending in the upcoming season and then create something from that in collaboration with our own Facebook community.
Thank you for my 60 seconds of fame at Vamper.cc!