As a big fan of both your magazine and of Assos clothing, I was very excited to receive the special “All-Assos, All the Time” edition of your fine publication last month.
And while I was (moderately) pleased with the text you saw fit to place on the cover of your magazine — “Assos Precision” — I was disappointed you chose only the top-center of the cover of the magazine for that headline. Why not something more prominent? I mean, since you included Assos in no fewer than three articles, don’t you think you could have included a photograph on the cover, as well?
Also, you could have added exclamation marks to emphasize the endorsement: “Assos Precision!!!” Or better yet, “Assos is Very Awesome! And We Love Them Very Much!” This, after all, pretty much the substance of the articles in the magazine, so why not reflect that on the cover?
So what gives, VeloNews?
Table of Contents Treatment
While I am disappointed with the way you seem to be showing some restraint with your — absolutely justified — love for all things Assos on the front cover, I am pleased to see that you are at least trying to make amends by the time you get to the Table of Contents: “Threading the Needle: Assos means quality in any language.”
You see, that’s the kind of language I expect and require from the non-biased journal of competitive cycling. Something that plainly and simply endorses an extra-awesome clothing manufacturer. And since your statement is self-evident, I think it’s great that you don’t worry about actually substantiating that claim in the articles themselves by actually assessing whether the clothing is worth what you pay for it. Hey, if people need information, that’s what the ad’s for, right? (By the way, when you get a moment, could you please tell me what that ad means?)
I admit to being a little bit concerned when I saw your first editorial mention of Assos in the September issue was little more than a photograph and blurb. Here’s what I think you should have written instead:
“The trim-fit jersey has reflective detailing, full-front wind protection, and a zippered security pocket. NO OTHER JERSEY IN THE WORLD HAS ANY OF THESE THINGS, AND ALSO THE OTHER JERSEYS WILL CAUSE BADGERS TO ATTACK YOU.”
I was, however, gratified to see that you did note the vest adds wind protection — it’s about time a clothing manufacturer realizes that cyclists want wind protection from their vests. I swear, I am so sick of all these vests I’ve got that provide no wind protection whatsoever. Sheesh!
And I’ll bet that formed collar doesn’t just keep out the chill. I’ll bet it also looks sexy as heck. You probably should have mentioned that, too. But I’m going to let it slide, because I know you’ve got to maintain your editorial integrity. Which you’re doing a smash-up job of, by the way.
Analysis of Your Hard-Hitting Assos Expose
I have to say, VeloNews, that I really enjoyed your first story on how much you love Assos: “Threading the Needle: After 33 years, Assos sets the bar for luxury cycling clothing.”
I learned a lot of important things from this article, all of which help reinforce my deep and certain knowledge that Assos is the best clothing manufacturer that has ever existed. For example:
- “While many companies have relocated their manufacturing to Asia, Assos has chosen to continue producing clothing locally to maintain quality control.” This reinforces my long-held belief that it is impossible to maintain quality control over things that are produced anywhere but right at home.
- “The clothing line itself is largely manufactured in Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Italy.” Um, those Slovenians are awesome! Much more awesome than Asia. And it’s not really not all that important to have your clothes actually manufactured locally, anyway.
- “The aesthetic is tidy, modern Swiss, with polished concrete floors, stainless steel kitchen appliances [...] and a white, silver and black color scheme that’s applied to everything, a harmonic blend of Italian and Swiss.” It always has been and always will be of utmost importance to me to know the quality of my clothing manufacturer’s kitchen appliances. And it’s nice to finally know this white / black / silver thing that’s so new and fresh has a hybrid nationality. The next time I go to an Ikea, I’m going to let them know that they’re actually Swiss-Italian, not Swedish. Or Goth.
- “The freshly detailed Audis and Mercedes in the parking lot betray stereotypically Swiss sensibilities.” I love knowing that the people behind my favorite clothing line are driving very expensive cars, because that tells me they really love cycling! And that they fit neatly into nationality stereotypes!
- “Roche plays a major role in design and testing, taking new samples out for long rides around Lake Como and critiquing minute details to ensure the highest quality.” That, VeloNews, is truly innovative. I am quite certain that no other bike clothing manufacturer actually has people try on and use clothing prototypes. Frankly, my mind is still boggling that this idea occurred to them. What will Assos think of next?
- “A Gyrowash simulates hundreds of normal washes to see how things hold up in the laundry.” I’m relieved to know this, because, like many (most?) Assos clothing owners, I generally wash my clothes over and over and over without using them in between.
You know what, VeloNews? You totally got it right. Assos really does set the bar for luxury cycling clothing. You proved it, by not mentioning — apart from vague “other company” generalities — where that bar is set, how others compare, or even what “luxury” means in this context. (This is a question I’ve had for some time).
And I’d go so far as to say that this article sets the bar for luxury journalism.
One thing I really appreciate about your coverage, VeloNews, is that you’re willing to stay focused. Hot on the heels of your hard-nosed investigative report into Assos’ kitchen decor, you’ve got…another article about how much you like Assos. This time, you help me make purchase decisions by telling me that:
- “My mother bought me my first pair of Assos shorts.” It is not clear whether she took out a second mortgage in order to make this purchase, but I think we’ll just go ahead and assume she did. And it was darn well worth it.
- “The fit of these things is so plush it’s worth enduring the chin music from my chucklehead bunch of riding buddies.” I’m not even sure what to say here, except that I hope your buddies have learned their lesson.
- “…The thick padding that goes under your seat bones is actually under your seat bones, not rotated up under your waist.” Actually, the problem I have is that the thick padding from other manufacturers (perish the thought) tends to drift down toward my kneecaps. Curse them! Let’s agree that Assos is the only company that has ever successfully managed to get a chamois between a butt and a saddle. Nobody else has even come close.
- “True to Assos form, there are all manner of small details, such as a small, zippered pocket with a hole for headphones, reflective tabs, two small side pockets in addition to the standard back three, and a loop of fabric at the bottom of the jersey to prevent wear against your bibs.” What’s really amazing to me is that they were able to get the headphones, tabs, pockets, and the all-important fabric loop into that little hole.
- “In all this is a fine kit. So, um, mom?” In all fairness, you should probably check with her first to see if she’s paid off the first kit yet.
After reading this, I have to ask myself: am I ready to spend $678 on this shorts/jersey combo?
And then the answer comes: Who isn’t?
VeloNews, I know you tried your best to give Assos a fair shake with your September issue, but let’s face it, you were unnecessarily hard on them, what with all the research, follow-up questions and comparisons and rigorous testing. Next time, you may want to take it a little easier on them.
I look forward to your December 200-page “Nothing But Assos” issue with great anticipation.
The Fat Cyclist